Let’s be honest. We all want to be more productive, but this can sometimes be challenging.
Being “always connected” means that there are more distractions than ever these days. Below I’ll share 6 of my favorite tips for increasing your productivity at work. Essentially it boils down to the fact that you have to be really smart about how you manage your time and energy.
I should add one caveat by saying that I really do believe that most of this won’t work if you are in a company with a really toxic culture. It just makes implementing these ideas that much harder.
Regardless, with a bit of effort, you will still be able to reap some benefits and increase your productivity. So let’s get started.
1. Manage Time In Small Blocks
I’d like to introduce those of you who might not be familiar to a concept called the “pomodoro technique.”
There has been some research that shows that the brain can only really focus for 25 minutes at a time on a single task. The premise behind the Pomodoro technique is that you time yourself working for 25 minutes, and then take a break for 5 minutes to quickly re-energize. This is a great Pomodoro tool that can help you track your time.
It’s also important to stay relaxed, stay calm, and be well rested. Studies show that you are more productive when you are well rested.
Don’t waste your time in meetings, and working on projects that you feel aren’t that important. Asana does something called “No Meeting Wednesday’s” where they specifically schedule that day to be for uninterrupted work.
2. Learn How To Say No
This is one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned.
It’s crucial to learn how to say no.
This can be hard, because we all want to be nice to each other, and it’s important to maintain good relationships with co-workers. With that said, there are many ways to learn how to effectively say no. Warren Buffett once said,
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.
We would all be wise to listen to his advice.
3. Find The Right Environment
This is more important than you might think. Finding the right space to think and focus will help you increase your productivity at work.
Even things like lighting can have a huge impact on how productive you are. I’ve read articles that say you have to have bright, natural lighting to be productive, and I’ve read other articles advocating dimming the lights.
I guess whatever works best for you. Personally, I like dimming the lights. I find it soothing, and it helps me focus.
The key point here is finding a context in which you can be in your zone and be more productive.
4. Be Alone To Increase Your Productivity At Work
Many of the top CEO’s say that they like getting into work early to focus and concentrate. But getting in early isn’t necessarily the answer, especially if you’re not a morning person (like me).
The solution? It’s simple: it’s about that alone time.
Remove all distractions. Turn off your phone, put some headphones on with the right type of music to improve your productivity. Whatever works best for you.
If your employer will allow it, I would recommend working from home at least one day a week. You’ll get your best work done on that day.
If you need some arguments to convince your team, I would definitely recommend watching this TED talk called Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work by Jason Fried (founder of 37 Signals). It’s amazing.
5. Use The Right Tools To Help You Achieve More
I would recommend using a set of tools to help you manage your work. Done right, this will increase your productivity tremendously.
It’s important to make sure to write down all of your ideas using a tool like Evernote, but I’d like to share with you some of the tools that I use to help me manage my work.
- Sqwiggle – We use this product every day here at Officevibe. It makes collaboration super easy regardless of where you work from. Despite the lack of screensharing feature, it’s one of my favorite products out there. Plus, it’s free for up to 3 people so you could easily test it out now!
- Trello – Having a clear picture of what you’ve done, what you’re working on, and what’s left to do in a clean, easy to read board will make your life so much easier.
- Yammer – If you’re working in a team of more than 10 people, I would recommend having some sort of internal social network to share links, ideas and communicate with the team.
- Google Hangouts – This is a great free alternative to something like WebEx or join.me. I use this one a lot. Also very convenient for our CultureTalks.
- Google Docs – I love Google Docs. Everything is in the cloud, accessible from anywhere, and everything saves automatically. All of my writing initially happens on a Google doc.
- Grooveshark – It’s nice sometimes to listen to some music while you’re “in the zone”. Definitely one of my favourites.
- Pomodoro.me – This is the tool I mentioned earlier, it helps you manage your time efficiently in small, 25 minute blocks.
- Greenshot – A screen grabbing tool that is a must-have for any PC user. For Mac users, I haven’t been able to find anything as good unfortunately.
- Feedly – This is arguably the most important tool I use, because it keeps me updated with the latest best practices from my favourite news sources.
- Workflowy – This is one of my favourite tools for note taking, and I use this product religiously. If it’s good enough for Matt Cutts, it’s good enough for me.
- Officevibe – Shameless plug! But of course the team and I use Officevibe every day ;)
6. Delegate Simple Tasks
If you’re anything like me, then your list of to-do items is bigger than you can handle, and your backlog of ideas could keep you busy for years.
To increase your own productivity at work, you need to be able to accept the fact that there’s no way you’ll complete all of your items.
I recommend you delegate some of your tasks, and I mean truly delegate. I say truly delegate because a lot of times when a manager delegates a task they will end up micro-managing. This is a waste of both people’s time.
If you have no one to delegate to, feel free to use a micro-tasking website. Depending on what the task is, you could use a website like Elance, Fiverr, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Mturk, or any other one you’re familiar with.
Manage Your Energy
This tip is realistically for the more advanced user who really has time to dedicate to learning and practicing this, but if you do, it can radically change the way you work and think.
If you’re looking to take your productivity to the next level, I would recommend reading Tony Schwartz’s book The Power of Full Engagement.
Essentially, the premise behind the book is about managing your energy instead of your time. It’s a pretty difficult concept to understand, but it can be very powerful.
It’s ultimately about setting up a regiment to ensure you’re your most productive. Things like going to bed and waking up on a consistent schedule, exercising regularly, and finding a nice balance between work and rest, are some of the things that Tony recommends.
Oh and if you don’t know who Tony Schwartz is yet, check him out, seriously.
What do you think of those productivity tips?
Keep in mind that these are only a few simple, inexpensive tips. There are lots of other ways to increase productivity at your office, namely by improving the quality of interactions at your office.
What do YOU do to increase productivity at work?
Any productivity hacks that you’d like to share?
Let me know your thoughts on twitter @Officevibe.