How do you feel when you leave the office after completing all of your tasks? I’m sure you feel great! The feeling of accomplishment pumps you up, no matter how tired you are. Afterwards, you have a nice, deep sleep and wake up the next day with new motivation.
However, there are days when you feel like you’re unable to finish anything at work. It could be due to a bad mood, attending too many meetings, experiencing a creative block or succumbing to your bad habits.
You know you can’t give those excuses to your manager, but how can you overcome the bad days? In this article, I’ll walk you through 11 amazing tips to increase productivity.
1. Don’t panic, get your comfort drink
Whenever I open my laptop and find that my Jira is full of tasks, I take a deep breath and tell myself not to panic. Then, I’ll make myself a cup of my favourite tea (earl grey) to help me calm down.
As I sip my tea, I’ll open each task to read the description, so I know which one needs urgent action. Most of the time, it looks like I have many things to do but actually, I only have to submit some of them that day.
So, first thing first, don’t panic. It’s a great start to increase productivity at work. Get your comfort drink and see the full picture before you feel stressed for no legit reason.
2. Create a to-do list based on priority
Following point #1, create a to-do list based on the priority of the task. Urgent tasks should come first, followed by high priority tasks and so on.
It only takes you a few minutes to create this task. But, trust me, it’s one of the great tips to increase productivity.
3. Don’t multitask
Many would assume multitasking helps to improve productivity at work. Switching tasks won’t help you complete many tasks at the same time. In a worse scenario, you may end up getting nothing done and of poor quality. Alas, what if your manager asks you to redo the task?
According to research, people who switch tasks are 40% less productive due to mental blocks. Hence, it’s best to commit to a single task and focus on finishing it before moving on to the next task.
4. It’s ok to say ‘no’
Being able to say no helps to increase productivity at work. But, is it really ok to say that your hands are full for the day? Will the boss think poorly of the employees who skip a meeting, as if they can’t manage their time well?
It depends on your situation. As soon as you realise that your capacity for the day is already full, inform your manager and colleague. If you think the task is super important and your presence in the meeting isn’t necessary, discuss it with your manager. Be honest, explain your situation and see what will happen.
By giving them a head up, you’re helping them to understand your situation. They may extend the deadline or reassign the tasks to someone else.
5. Utilise your commute time
If you’re taking public transport to work, commute time is the best period to swap your small activities to productive ones. Instead of scrolling social media, you can read emails, workgroup notifications or brainstorm.
6. Minimise interruptions
Minimising interruptions play an important role in your work productivity. Distractions, no matter how small they are, will slow you down. Before you start working, remember to minimise interruptions.
For example, turn off all notifications, keep your phone away and set a “do not disturb unless urgent” status on your work chat profile. If you’re allowed to work from home, opt to do it so you can work on time-sensitive projects.
7. Work on the most challenging task first
Get your hands on the hardest task first is one of the beneficial tips to increase productivity. It will only become more challenging if you procrastinate. The longer you delay working on that task, the more difficult it feels. The best time to tackle the most challenging task is in the morning when you’re still full of energy. So go on, just do it!
8. Listen to the right types of music
A study found that certain types of music can help to boost productivity. These are six types of music that you should listen to when feeling unproductive:
- Classical music (i.e. Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Chopin)
- Nature music (i.e. the sound of water, ocean waves, bird)
- Cinematic music (i.e. the soundtrack of “Amélie”, “Inception”, “Lawrence of Arabia”)
- Video game music (i.e. Final Fantasy 7, Assassin’s Creed 2, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
- Music between 50-80 beats per minute (i.e. “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars, “Chasing Pavements” by Adele, “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley)
- Your favourite music
9. Have your lunch outside the office
When our plate is full, it’s very easy to work constantly without taking breaks. However, people rarely miss their lunch break. Go out and have your lunch outside the office instead of using a food delivery app.
After sitting in front of your laptop for hours, you’ll feel better with a change of scenery. So, go for a walk in a few minutes and inhale some fresh air. Taking a short break also contributes to your work productivity.
Insist that you’re too busy? Have your lunch alone, so you can skip the small talk and be mindful when eating.
10. Get enough sleep
Try to be in bed by midnight and get at least a 7-hour sleep. Lack of sleep makes you wake up feeling cranky and craving junk foods, which is bad for your health (and mood). Get enough sleep so you can improve productivity at work.
11. Exercise regularly
A study found that midday exercise increases morale and work productivity. Hit the gym during your lunch break, take the stairs instead of the elevator or do some push-ups to boost your productivity.
These are 11 amazing tips to increase productivity that I’ve personally tried and found effective. Bonus tip #12 — if possible, ask permission to work from home so you can skip the commute, focus on the task and deliver it on time.