Ever start a day with lofty plans for all the things you’ll get done at the office — the checklists that will get crossed off and the projects you’ll finish — only to end the day barely getting through the first couple of things you had planned for the day? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of people struggle with how to have a productive day. Here are some simple tips to increase your office productivity today.
Lower the temperature
In a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, office workers increased productivity when indoor air was between 69-72°F. There was a significant decrease in productivity when the temperature was 75°F or warmer and workers experienced mental exhaustion and discomfort. So, if you start to wonder, “Is it hot in here?” turn up the air conditioning and get a boost in completing your goals.
Look for the green
Do you know that adding a plant to your workspace (especially in a windowless space) can increase your work productivity by 12%? Plants also elevate the mood and sharpen the mind. Don’t have one in the office? Next time you’re near a local home and garden store, stop by to purchase one or more of your favorite plants.
Turn off notifications
As a culture, we’re addicted to the rush we receive when checking notifications. But push notifications can reduce productivity by up to 40%. During work hours, turn off cell phone notifications or put your cell phone on “Do Not Disturb” in order to focus on work and achieve a productive day.
Practice “deep work”
In his book Deep Work, Cal Newport defines deep work as “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit, [which then] create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to duplicate.” It’s a state of focused work in which you don’t allow any distractions, from checking email to standing up for a cup of coffee. You might designate one to several hours a day specifically to deep work.
Start with a focus on you
Starting the day with a positive feeling can do wonders for productivity. Get up early enough to meditate, do yoga, hit the gym, or do other activities that increase endorphins and kick-start your day with an affirmative spin.
Give each day a theme
Chris O’Neill, Gap Board Member and former CEO of Evernote, practices a daily theme that increases productivity and reduces distractions. For example, O’Neill focuses on marketing every Wednesday, whereas on Fridays, he reflects on the week, finishes any tasks that didn’t get done, and plans for the following week. To implement this, identify your current work categories and choose days of the week to focus on each.
Be willing to say “no”
It’s easy to feel say “yes” to responsibilities that aren’t yours. However, your goals for the day must also stay a priority. Be willing to delegate or re-direct additional work that gets in the way of your core productivity.
Take a break
Working non-stop may seem like a logical way to get more tasks done during the day, but studies have shown that taking small breaks throughout the day boosts concentration and productivity. Walk around your building, go outside and take some deep breaths, or go for a coffee run. You’re more likely to come back refreshed and experience a peak in productivity.
Plan for the day ahead
At the end of each day, create a priority list for the following workday. Many experts advise starting with the most important task first and working your way down.
Stop checking emails
Constantly checking emails is distracting and directly impacts your stress level. Most adults check emails around 15 times a day. Yet, a recent study showed limiting email checking to three times a day resulted in the same productivity with a decreased level of stress and a higher positive effect.
Use these tips to lighten your mood, be more productive, increase your sense of accomplishment, and have a more positive experience at work. Go forth and be productive.
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