Your productivity doesn’t have to be directly tied to how much coffee you drink. In fact, that kind of thinking will get you on a fast track to burn out. So if we [unfortunately] have to moderate our coffee intake in the name of being healthy, how can we improve our productivity level at work? There is no silver bullet, but that’s a good thing! We’ve put together a list of eight productivity hacks to help you maximize your time in the office. Test out a few of them and see what works for you.
1. Use the pomodoro technique to balance work and breaks
The traditional technique separates your day into 30 minute chunks. The first 25 minutes of every chunk is dedicated to working on something. Then you are forced to take a 5 minute break. You don’t have to limit your schedule to 30 minutes though. Instead, you can do 45 minutes of work and a 5 minute break. The important thing is to take lots of mini breaks throughout the day to give yourself a rest. This will help curb your random 2-hour facebook binge when you have plenty of work to do.
2. Get up and stretch throughout the day
This helpful tip would pair well with the pomodoro technique since you could use your breaks to stretch. Part of the benefit of stretching is to give your mind a break, but there are two other productivity benefits as well. The first is that stretching improves blood circulation. That means more oxygen gets to you brain so you can operate faster with fewer mistakes. The second benefit is that stretching removes toxins and lactic acid from your muscles. So be sure to drink water during your stretch break to help flush out those toxins!
3. Wear a “manager hat” and a “maker hat”
Paul Graham contributes a Manager Schedule and a Maker Schedule to his high productivity. This is where you set aside a certain amount of time out of your day to take meetings, plan projects, and perform typical manager type duties. That is your “manager” hat. And everyone has a manager hat. The rest of your time should be set aside for you to actually get stuff done – your maker hat. That may look different from person to person, but the principle remains the same. You’ll become much more productive when you stop mixing your manager and maker duties.
4. Implement the “two minute” rule
Highly productive entrepreneur, copywriter, and author Steve Olenski suggests introducing the “two-minute rule” to take advantage of those small windows of time in between big tasks at work. This productivity idea is simple – If you see a task or action that you know can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. Completing the task right away actually takes less time than having to get back to it later and these “two minute” tasks won’t build up over time. This will weigh on your decision making ability and prevent you from operating at 100%.
5. Stop multitasking – it doesn’t work!
There are hundreds of studies that show that multitasking doesn’t really work. Our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time. You may still be able to function at a high level when doing multiple things at once, but you are not functioning at your highest level. This is one of the easiest ways to increase your productivity. If you find yourself doing multiple things at once, just stack them one after another and you will do a better job in a shorter amount of time.
6. Take advantage of down-time throughout your day
If you deconstruct your day, you will probably find 2-3 hours where you are doing something that doesn’t use your mind. This might be your workout routine in the morning, a commute in to work, or an evening run. You don’t have to produce work to be productive. These are great opportunities to increase your productivity by listening to a podcast that can help you grow the skills you are already learning at work. But as I mentioned briefly in the first point, down time is important. So let your body tell you when you need to unwind – and listen to it!
7. Use automation to get more done behind the scenes
There are plenty of easy-to-use automation tools out there that can help relieve you of those repetitive tasks every day. Two of the tools I use for my personal life and for work are IFTTT and Zapier. Both of these tools allow you to use basic “if statement” logic to get more done. IFTTT is free for everyone and is designed more for personal tasks. Zapier is free up to a certain amount of “zaps” per month and is tailored more towards business tasks. If neither of these work for you, you can always use excel to automate those tedious tasks.
8. Identify distractions and get rid of them
This seems like a no brainer, but it is something everyone struggles with at some level. Distractions look different for every person, so the first step you need to take is identify what things distract you from being productive. Then put together a plan to get rid of those distractions. Easy, right? Not really. There are tons of helpful tools available online, like StayFocusd, that helps minimize distractions from the inter-webs. For other types of distractions, try checking out what our friends at Life Hack have put together to reduce distractions.