It can be hard to always be productive at work when there are so many distractions ready to pull you away from your tasks. Many companies have plans in place to help employees be more productive, but there are also many ways for employees to take on this responsibility themselves. While becoming more productive can seem like a huge goal to make, there are many small steps you can take that will tremendously help your productivity. Here are the top 10 ways to be more productive in the workplace.
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1. Make to-do lists
While to-do lists seem like a simple concept that isn’t always needed, they are actually critical to the success of employees. Many people come into work everyday knowing what they need to do, but when it comes to actually getting it done, they can forget some tasks since they have too much information in their head. They can also end up procrastinating things they need to get done if they think they have time to do it another day. Writing down all the tasks they need to accomplish everyday and crossing them off after they finish can help a person not forget what tasks they need to do and help them avoid the urge to go home early. It is also important to choose a number of tasks that you can handle, somewhere between five and nine (Boogaard). This will help you sort out your priorities.
2. Take breaks
Even though most people have the urge to get everything done at once, that can actually limit productivity. Taking small breaks throughout your workday has been proven to increase productivity (Boogaard). One good strategy is to take a five minute break every 30 minutes. You can step away from your desk and go on your phone, have a snack, or just relax. These five minutes can help routinely recharge your brain so you don’t get burnt out throughout the day. This will help you pay better attention to your assignments and complete better work.
3. Avoid clutter at your desk
Scenery can have a huge toll on the work one is doing. It is very important to create a work environment that can help you be productive. Keeping your desk neat can clear your mind and make you more comfortable so you can get more work done. It is also important to be surrounded by things that make you happy to increase your productivity. Having a desk by a window to let in natural light can help you work more efficiently. Plants also have that effect, as studies show that people with plants in their workspace have a 12% faster reaction time on computer tests (Boogaard). Lastly, making your workspace physically comfortable with good quality furniture can help boost productivity, as you won’t constantly be thinking about how to make yourself more comfortable.
4. Turn off notifications
Even the most productive people can be easily distracted in today’s world with the easy access of social media and messaging apps. Most people have their computers set to where they can receive text messages on their computer screens. While replying to a quick text from a friend or family member doesn’t take long, it can open up more opportunities for you to get distracted. Turning your phone on do not disturb and putting away as well as turning off notifications on your computer can help you avoid this. While text messaging is normally not something that is too time consuming, it is a big distraction in the workplace and can ideally be dealt with during one of your quick breaks.
5. Make big tasks into smaller ones
Sometimes, coming into the office can be overwhelming when you have a lot to do. Big tasks can seem grueling from the surface, and can make you more likely to procrastinate having a productive start to your day. But, breaking down these big tasks into smaller ones can help them seem not so scary and make them easier to begin. It is a good strategy to focus on your bigger tasks before your smaller ones (Indeed), so take those tasks first. Then, think about what you would be doing first when completing that task. Keep doing that until you have broken the task down into multiple sections. Then, add those sections to your to-do list instead of the entire task as a whole. This can help make your day seem more manageable.
6. Avoid multitasking
Multitasking is something that many people see as a way to get more done in a shorter period of time. But, there are many studies that have proven this to be false. Multitasking can make it harder for people to pay attention in the long run, and can lead to more errors in work (Davis). When an individual gets in the habit of multitasking, they are used to using more of their brain during work. This leads to them having to use more of their brain for single tasks as well, as it can be harder for them to pay attention than people who don’t multitask. When you need to use more of your brain for something, it means your brain is working harder than it needs to (Davis).
7. Stay optimistic
While coming into work can be an underwhelming and sometimes grueling task, it is important to keep a positive attitude. Staying optimistic can increase an employee’s energy level, and allows for more creativity and leadership in the workplace (United Concordia). Having a positive mentality can also rub off on your coworkers. If you come into work everyday with a negative attitude and complain about all the work you have to do, you will bring out the negative side of others’ attitudes. They will want to complain about work to relate and feel a sense of community through that. But, if you remain optimistic, it will rub off on them, and they will find a sense of community in a happy work environment.
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8. Change your environment
Having a desk that makes you comfortable and motivated to work at is important to success in the workplace, but it is still important to get up and move around every once in a while. Changing your environment can be refreshing for when you’re feeling slow and don’t have time to take a break. If you’re doing a less grueling task such as answering emails or something tedious, maybe move to the couch or sit outside (Boogaard). If you have the option to work remote, try out a new coffee shop or restaurant and get lunch while you work. Your brain releases dopamine when you move to a new location (Boogaard), so moving around can help you stay positive and interested in the work you’re doing.
9. Stay off social media
Social media is a major distraction in today’s world, as it is easy to pull up Instagram or TikTok on your phone during work out of habit. But, even though it takes only a couple minutes to take a quick social media break, it can be even more of a distraction. Social media is addictive, and even just a few minutes scrolling through TikTok can give you the urge to pick your phone back up once you put it down. You can also get wrapped up in the subjects you’ve seen online during your breaks that have nothing to do with work, and can distract you even further. Saving social media time for after work is a good way to increase productivity. Your mind won’t wander on the job and you can reward yourself for a hard day’s work by scrolling when you get home.
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10. Don’t be a perfectionist
Perfectionism is often seen as something to strive for in the workplace, however it is the opposite. Perfectionism can cause a hesitation to start projects, as you feel a huge amount of pressure to make things perfect. Many perfectionists feel that if they can’t get a project done perfectly, they don’t have a reason to start (Boogaard). In order to avoid perfectionism, you can set time limits for how long you will work on a project (Boogaard). This will motivate you to finish the project before time runs out, and it will also remove the pressure of being perfect since it is replaced with the pressure of getting it done. After that limit is over, you can go in and make small edits, but the overall task will be completed.
These 10 simple habits can help you go from a distracted employee to one of your company’s top performers. Incorporating these steps into your workplace routine will help you be more much more productive and motivated and will help influence the people around you to do the same.
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