In the UK, most people spend over 40 hours a week at work, yet we have some of the lowest rates of productivity in Europe. So how can we improve our productivity and get more done without working longer hours?
Here are 6 ways to boost your office productivity.
Take a lunch break
This one may seem counter-intuitive, but working longer hours does not necessarily lead to better productivity (as productivity is a function of output/time). Instead, we need to look to be more efficient in the work we do and that requires concentration. No one can maintain optimum concentration for 8.5 hours, especially on an empty stomach.
By taking a lunch break, you can refuel your body, rest your mind and return to the task at hand refreshed and ready to go.
Drink water to keep hydrated
Many people rely on coffee to get them through the day, but caffeine is actually a diuretic (although not enough to cause dehydration in itself). Once the initial caffeine boost wears off, you might find yourself lagging.
Instead, make sure you drink plenty of water. By keeping hydrated, not only will it be good for your health, but it improves productivity by as much as 14%.
Set yourself a goal to drink a glass of water every 2 hours, that way you’ll also step away from the screen and stretch your legs, another productivity booster.
Take a break
Don’t just limit your downtime to your lunch break. Take regular breaks throughout the day to rest your eyes, stretch your legs and prevent yourself from becoming lethargic in your work.
As we discussed, taking a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water, or having a brief conversation with a colleague will all help (building good relationships with colleagues is also key to a satisfying and productive workplace), you might learn something useful about another part of the business, or at least some juicy gossip.
Find your power hour
Most people have a time of day that suits them best. For me it’s from about 10am to 12pm, once i’ve settled into my inbox and before lunch. It is this time where I try to do most of my ‘heavy lifting’.
Plan what you want to achieve today, perhaps make a list, and then identify what task is going to be the most mentally taxing. It could be a particularly carefully worded email, some creative writing, or some calculations. Whatever it is, tackle that tasks during your power hour. Remove all distractions and really concentrate on this task and supercharge your productivity.
Clear your inbox
Emails can be a distraction. Turn of your email notifications to prevent distraction, instead schedule in semi-regular email sessions.
It is surprisingly liberating to have an empty inbox. I’m not saying hit ‘delete all’ but don’t be afraid. Delete anything that’s completed, unimportant or junk. If you can’t face deleting emails, at least archive them so they are tucked away out of view.
Once you achieve inbox nirvana you should deal with each email in your new dedicated ‘email sessions’. Reply, delete or archive.
Now you can spend all of that time that you used to waste sifting through irrelevant emails on something much more productive in the office.
Use time management tools
If you’re old school, you may want to make a list of jobs for the day. I like to schedule tasks in my calendar for the week, giving me structure and prioritising time. For the Generation Y’s and Z’s out there, you may want to use an app or plugin to keep track of how much time you spend on various websites and social media accounts throughout the working week using Chrome apps such as WasteNoTime.
You can then use the app to automatically lock you out of certain sites after a set number of minutes so that you can focus your efforts where they are really needed in the office.
Give it a go. Let us know how you get on.