Office environments can feel stressful and inescapable at times, with vast quantities of work weighing us down. However, this stress is not insurmountable and by boosting your productivity you can get through more work whilst also improving your mindset and overall well-being.
Here are eight of the best ways to boost your productivity at work.
Establishing a habit of being early in your professional life will place you in a position of power and control. Leaving home just half an hour earlier in the morning will not only allow you to skip the traffic and have your morning coffee (or two) in the peace and quiet of an empty office, it will also impress you colleagues and those in charge. This extra time will allow you to get ahead with your to-do list without interruption, creating a highly productive attitude from the start of the day and allowing you extra time to deal with any issues that arise during the day.
If your desk is covered with a random assortment of old work, rubbish and sentimentality, then it’s more than likely that your brain is cluttered by the same things. Research at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute has demonstrated that a cluttered, untidy environment will actually reduce your ability to focus. A weekly cleanse of both clutter and dirt will leave you better able to maintain your focus and banish distraction. But don’t worry if this doesn’t quite come naturally to you; several authorities believe that the most successful among us are inherently messy.
Unless you use it in your job (in which case you’ll likely have a separate work phone anyway), put your phone away during office hours. Checking personal messages during work is not only likely to lose you the respect of your boss, it’s also a theft of company time. A survey by Kessler International identified inappropriate use of cellphones as one of the greatest issues business owners have with their employees. Use of a mobile is particularly unacceptable when it’s brought into meetings or left out on the desk when with a client or colleague. Allow yourself to check social media and non-work emails once a day, at lunchtime. Apart from this place an embargo on it. This will do wonders for your productivity, focusing your efforts on the job at hand and disconnecting you from the wider web of social media.
If you prefer working in silence, but the colleague next to you is constantly blaring out music, don’t be afraid to ask them nicely but firmly if they’d mind turning down the volume or using headphones. The same goes for any breach of office etiquette; if you are polite, you are completely within your rights to ask your colleagues to respect how you work, and work with them to find a compromise.
Acknowledge that the office environment and the home setting require different mindsets and work to keep these separate. Whilst some studies promote greater integration of our work and home lives, it’s widely acknowledged that without at least some time away from the pressures of the office, productivity will drop. When you go home at the end of the day make sure that you make time not only for your family and friends, but also for yourself. Take time during the week to consider your own priorities and values and how you can align your lifestyle closer to these.
Nothing is worse than feeling so shattered at work that you can’t keep your eyes open or focus on exactly what your boss is asking you. If you’re struggling with getting enough shut-eye, try to establish a nightly routine. Avoid stimulants such as alcohol and caffeine and instead drink chamomile tea. A bath can also be brilliant for inducing a deep sleep, as the temperature drop after we get out of the bath (and also the shower to a lesser extent) is proven to send us to sleep. With exhaustion being an acknowledged issue in the workplace there’s no excuse for staying up procrastinating on your phone or laptop late at night if you truly want to be productive at work.
One in 10 women are iron deficient and the majority of us don’t eat nearly enough of fruit and veg, leading to exhaustion and a lack of productivity during those crucial working hours. If you suspect you’re missing out on certain vitamins, do something to remedy this – even if this just means taking vitamin tablets to supplement your diet. A proper breakfast will set you up for the day; the soluble fibre in porridge and the protein in eggs are brilliant sources of energy to get you through the whole morning. Eating large, infrequent meals causes unhealthy spikes in the level of your blood sugar; prepare snacks and a sustainable food plan for the day in advance. If you take your own healthy snacks you’ll be less inclined to dive into the unhealthy office biscuits or chocolate.
More than half of us don’t bother to leave the office at lunchtime, meaning that the stress and pressures of the day can feel all-encapsulating and inescapable at times. Even if only you only pop out briefly, removing yourself from the office environment will renew and re-energize your attitude towards work, boosting the amount of work you get done. A walk or burst of exercise is the best way to make the most of your lunch break, but even leaving the office for a nearby café or to make a personal call will break up your day and increase your productivity.
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