We all have exceptional capabilities that can push the boundaries of what is possible, but most of us fail to capitalize on our potential due to a lack of productivity.
There are a million things that can steal your focus from doing valuable things and helping you boost your bottom line. Researchers found that most workers are only productive for less than 3 hours during their 8-hour workday.
Imagine the possibilities of what you can achieve if you could stretch your productivity across your 8-hour workday.
There are certain lifestyle changes you can make to maximize your productivity, and with it, your earnings.
In this blog, we’ve rounded up our list of the 18 most freakishly effective ways to boost productivity.
- 1 1. Find Your Golden Hours in the Day
- 2 2. Cultivate the Ideal Lifestyle
- 3 3. Track the Time You Spend on Each Task
- 4 4. Prepare a Schedule
- 5 5. Give Yourself a Break
- 6 6. Focus on Personal and Career Development
- 7 7. Most Office Meetings are… Unproductive, so Avoid Them
- 8 8. Try to Delegate Tasks as Much as You Can
- 9 9. Listen to Music That Can Boost Productivity
- 10 10. Automate Work-Related Tasks Where Possible
- 11 11. Exercise to Improve Productivity and Brain Function
- 12 12. Eat Healthy Foods to Avoid Energy Crashes
- 13 13. Sleep 7 to 8 Hours a Night
- 14 14. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Difficult Task
- 15 15. Pen Your Thoughts in a Blog or a Notebook
- 16 16. Reach Work Early
- 17 17. Race Against the Clock
- 18 18. Take Time Off From Work
- 19 Wrapping Up
1. Find Your Golden Hours in the Day
There’s a certain time of the day when you’re at your absolute best, but that time differs for everyone. For your friends, it could be 8 AM while others might be night owls who hit peak efficiency in the wee hours of the night. To find your most productive hours, pay attention to your body to get a sense of when you feel most motivated and focused to take on big projects.
Once you’ve settled on your most productive hours, plan your workday accordingly by prioritizing work (from high to low) to take advantage of increased productivity. It’s okay to leave routine tasks for later in the day when you don’t need as much focus.
2. Cultivate the Ideal Lifestyle
Human productivity depends on a combination of sleep, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle choices.
It helps to inculcate healthy habits in your lifestyle, such as working out, eating healthy, meditating, and sleeping on time. The goal is to give the body enough rest and nutrition to recover from a long day and prepare to take on the challenges of the next working day.
It should be noted that different people respond to outside stimuli differently. For example, some people thrive in an office environment while others work best when they’re left to their own devices. Ask any productivity coach and they’ll tell you that extroverts have a hard time working from others, and prefer to feed off the energy of their surroundings (in a good way).
So how can you tell which worker type are you?
Once again, pay attention to your body to find a sense of when it achieves max focus and concentration levels. Have you noticed that your work location impacts your productivity? If so, in a good way or a bad way?
Once you’ve figured out your preferred work environment, try to communicate your findings to your supervisor so they can make suitable arrangements. If not, consider finding a different job or reshape your career path based on where you can maximize productivity, it could be remote work, office, or a combo of the two.
3. Track the Time You Spend on Each Task
If you find yourself reaching for the smartphone every 5 minutes to check up on your news feed, you’re probably wasting too much time.
Your desktop computer isn’t much different either. As a general rule, any device that has a connection to the internet will give you enough reason to get sidetracked. Worse still is when you lose focus and engage in unproductive activities subconsciously and without even realizing it!
This is why it is so helpful to use a tool like RescueTime to figure out how you’re using your time. The app lets you track every minute of every waking hour, and even lets you track daily goals. At the end of the workday, it provides you with a detailed report of how you used your time in the day.
You can also customize the app to limit the time you spend on any particular task and block social media. Remember time is money. And every minute that you rescue from your day is time spent making money.
Want to truly feel ‘in control’ of your time? Then make sure to check out Rescue Time. Start your free trial here.
4. Prepare a Schedule
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book: scheduling your time in advance.
A cursory peek into the lives of successful people will reveal just how efficient they are with their time. Not a single minute goes to waste, at least from their work hours. They keep a diary of events in the day that have happened, are happening, or are about to happen. Some go to great lengths to hire assistants whose sole job it is to remind them of their current obligations.
Of course, this does not apply to time outside of work hours. The time in the day that you allocate for leisure should be spent freely and without restriction.
An expertly designed weekly schedule is a good substitute for a productivity coach. Let the diary or calendar dictate your work hours.
This productivity solution only works best if you vow to stay on schedule, come what may!
Start by creating a weekly schedule on Google Calendar and block out time for fun, friends, and family. Then start blocking out major assignments to create boundaries between work and personal life. It is important to make time for both otherwise, one of the two (usually work), will take up every available moment in your week. And this isn’t healthy either way for you.
Time is a finite resource, so it makes sense to block tasks based on their priority to realistically complete deadlines. Try to schedule your work well in advance before the day begins to stay on top of your obligations.
There are many alternatives to Google Calendar, including TimeTree, Digi Calendar Agenda, Jorte, Business Calendar 2, and Simple Calendar. Try to become familiar with one of them and put them to use.
5. Give Yourself a Break
It may be tempting to create a soul-crushing schedule to make the most use of your time, but your body has finite resources, not a workhorse! It is extremely important to give yourself periodic breaks. Show your body a little self-compassion and it will reward you with never-before-seen productivity levels. Most productivity solutions suggest working in regular busts followed by a small break.
A good arrangement would be to work for 1 hour straight followed by a 15-minute break.
In order for this to work, however, you’ll have to completely remove yourself from work (and anything that has got to do with work) during your 15-minute break. Try to walk a little, work out a little, or just read an article. Even staring at the blank wall for 15-minutes is better than engaging with more work. Of course, try to do something that you enjoy. The goal is to take a step back, refresh, and reset your brain so that it could squeeze in more productivity.
6. Focus on Personal and Career Development
When most people start working on personal and career development, they quickly realize that it’s just too time-consuming.
But it is extremely important to think about your long-term prospects and career goals, and what steps you’ll have to take to get there.
Personal development starts with self-analysis and introspection as you explore your unconscious mind. Career development may include attending a seminar or a training course to advance your career.
Either way, it pays to invest your own time in yourself, even if it comes at the cost of skipping a few work-related obligations (if they’re optional). The main draw of personal and career development is that it will maximize your earning potential over time while also improving your work-life balance.
7. Most Office Meetings are… Unproductive, so Avoid Them
While meetings are extremely beneficial when it comes to brainstorming new ideas and creating solutions, most of them are a waste of time… to put it mildly. Did you know that a whopping $37 billion are spent on unproductive meetings? That’s higher than the GDP of most countries!
But if you must have a meeting, make sure to follow these tips:
Ensure every meeting has an organizer whose job is to schedule everything, set the agenda, and facilitate productive discussions
- Make sure only necessary personnel are included in the meeting. Any resolutions and information can be provided to others on a need-to-know basis via emails, chat, or other means.
- Make sure it has an agenda that every attendee has access to. The agenda should state the items for discussions, objectives, and other relevant material to maximize productivity (a PowerPoint presentation, projector, whiteboard, etc.).
- The meeting should have a goal. If you don’t know what the goal is, then don’t schedule the meeting.
Using a strategy to conduct a meeting will make it more productive, organized, and improve your use of time.
8. Try to Delegate Tasks as Much as You Can
Whether you’re an entrepreneur managing a business or part of a very large project with many moving parts, everyone should have their pre-defined roles based on their strengths and weaknesses.
You should never try to do things on your own. Never try to be a ‘jack of all trades’, because your efforts could fall flat on their face.
If you outsource your work to someone else based on proper communication, they will approach the task differently than you would, but they’ll still your goals.
For example, if you’re running a marketing company, you could delegate certain tasks between your team.
Here’s a rough idea:
- Team 1 is in charge of content generation
- Team 2 is in charge of creating and scheduling social media posts
- Team 3 will prepare a graphic design for content
- Team 4 will proofread work and ensure there are no errors
If you don’t have access to someone with a required skill set, consider outsourcing work to a freelancer instead.
And so on.
9. Listen to Music That Can Boost Productivity
Researchers argue that music could be used as a productivity solution at work. But don’t listen to just about anything, it is crucial to listen to the right type of music. Some types of music are known to hinder productivity while others can help you move along at a much faster pace.
As a general rule, you should avoid music includes complex musical sounds, songs with lyrics, or forms of sound that you don’t normally use in your playlist.
Some types of music are specifically designed as a productivity solution. Let’s explore a few tried and tested types of music that help you perform better at work.
Sounds of Nature
Soothing sounds of nature can improve concentration and cognitive function. Listening to the sound of rainfall, rustling leaves, and flowing water can make you feel serene and at ease, while jarring noises such as car horns and birdcalls can be distracting. Other forms of nature sounds include instruments such as flute and piano, which help you create an environment for work.
Video Game Music
Most video games are known for selecting compositions that are designed specifically to improve your gameplay during intense moments. It’s crucial to time your moves right to power through hordes of enemies and dodge enemy attacks. A good place to start would be the soundtrack from Skyrim, Witcher 3, Mass Effect, and Sins of a Solar Empire.
Video game music keeps your mind occupied on a single task for a longer duration than without music. Most video game moments will feel bland and empty without the right scores.
If work-related stress is beating you down, try to give ambient music a shot. Ambient music can accommodate a varying range of emotions and sustain listening attention for extremely long durations. Ambient music is particularly effective to power through difficult work moments, to help you push through your work, push negative thoughts away, and retain your sanity through the ordeal.
Other types of music that you can listen to work include blues, jazz, and even rock music. If all you want is to cancel ambient noise (due to chatty coworkers and office clatter), use white noise.
Experiment with each type of music and notice your brain’s response.
10. Automate Work-Related Tasks Where Possible
If you’re at your wit’s end because of a to-do list that stretches on forever, you could find a way to automate repetitive tasks. One user on Reddit recounted his story of automation where he claimed to have automated his entire job thanks to his programming skills. He kept at this supposed dream job for about 6 years before forgetting how to code and getting fired as a result.
This is an important reminder that automation can be a powerful way to save time at work, but it should never be used as a replacement for actual work.
The goal of automation is to take care of redundant, repetitive tasks that take all your time in the day.
Here are 3 simple tweaks you can make to automate simple tasks:
Sort and Respond to Emails
Did you know that on average, most workers receive over 200 emails every day and spend a massive amount of time reading and responding to those emails? Between reading emails and replying to them, their ultimate goal has shifted away from doing actual work to achieving inbox zero. This is where automation can come to the rescue.
You can set up rules in Outlook or smart labels in Gmail to automatically sort your emails based on the sender and keywords. This allows you to quickly sort more important emails over less important ones. Those needing canned responses such as, “That’s good!” or “I’m in”, will be dealt with using email templates. This way, you can focus your time on emails that matter.
Evernote Premium is one such tool that lets you take care fo emails. Try to give its free trial a shot to see if it’s useful enough for you.
Use Grammarly to Proofread Your Work
Typos can be embarrassing in a professional setting.
And no, most of your customers aren’t in the habit of criticizing and correcting language, it just doesn’t look very professional.
If anything, a blog post or an email that contains typos and grammatical errors is a tell-tale sign of scammers. Now we know you don’t have all the time in the world to go back and review every single typo you ever made, which is why it makes sense to use a tool like Grammarly to automatically spot and correct your mistakes in real-time, like incorrect grammar, typos, and other contextual errors.
Grammarly even integrates on most platforms, such as Microsoft Word, Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn, and Twitter, among others. You can also add it to your browser as an extension.
Use Custom Workflows to Handle Repetitive Tasks
Custom workflows let you automate repetitive tasks such as changing file names, resizing pictures, and backing up important files and folders. If you’re on OS X, use Automator to automate tasks on your Mac. If you’re a Windows user, use Windows Task Scheduler to create basic tasks. For example, you could delete files that are older than one week or open programs every time you log on to Windows.
11. Exercise to Improve Productivity and Brain Function
Exercise does more than help you build muscles and lose weight. Studies show that people who visited the gym regularly became more productive at work and efficiently managed their time. Exercise can have many important benefits such as:
- Boosting your memory, creativity, and concentration levels
- Help you pick up new skills at a faster rate
- Reduce your pent up stress levels
If done regularly, exercising can give you a huge surge in creativity.
Furthermore, exercising activates a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which is known to boost cognitive function. Regularly exercising means that you’ll have more energy to power through the day, and ensure that you perform your work correctly and to the best of your abilities. Try to take as many opportunities as you can to exercise.
More importantly, regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type II diabetes – all of which severely hamper productivity at work.
12. Eat Healthy Foods to Avoid Energy Crashes
If your morning routine consists of sugar-laden beverages and pastries, it’s time for a change.
Scientists have found a link between eating well and productivity at work. It has been shown that people who eat more fruit and vegetables during the day are not only happier and more engaged at work, but they’re also most productive.
If you’re studying and want to cram a lot of information in your brain to prepare for exams, consider using buying nootropics (with a doctor’s recommendation of course) to boost cognitive function.
As a general rule, aim for three meals per day and about 2 snacks, or a small frequent meal every 3 hours to stabilize your blood sugar. Try not to skip meals because this will increase your cravings for junk food and could result in overeating when it’s time for your next meal.
13. Sleep 7 to 8 Hours a Night
What if you had a magic pill that improved your productivity at once? And not only would it make you feel good but also improve your health biomarkers?
While the magic pill is a work of fiction, researchers suggest there is an alternative: sleep.
A good night’s sleep is a freakishly effective way to boost your productivity. One study found that workers who didn’t sleep enough had lower productivity levels and poor performance at work. An estimated $2000 is lost due to sleep-related loss in productivity.
It is kind of ironic that people don’t get enough sleep because they’re working all the time, and they’re not working efficiently because they’re not getting quality sleep. It’s a vicious cycle that we must break out of.
As a rule, try to sleep at least 8 hours at night. If you make this a habit, you’ll notice that your body will be supercharged for the next day.
14. Reward Yourself for Finishing a Difficult Task
We thrive on instant gratification, but most work-related tasks take a bit while to reach fruition, and that can take the fun out of your work. This is why you should still try to reward yourself for meaningful progress.
To stay motivated for whatever you do, try to reward yourself with meaningful things. Keep track of your small victories and milestones and celebrate them. Bonus points if you can invite a loved one to celebrate your bigger milestones.
Here are a few self-care rewards you can treat yourself to for reaching your goals:
- Go to an art gallery
- Listen to a podcast
- Indulge your taste buds to delicious food
- Go to a concert
- Watch a movie at home
- Throw a big party
- Learn cooking lessons
- Buy fancy clothes
- Play poker with friends
- Take a photo
- Get a new hairstyle
- Book a session with yourtrainer
15. Pen Your Thoughts in a Blog or a Notebook
A blog doesn’t have to be about marketing only. It could be about releasing all your pent-up thoughts in a safe environment. If done right, the blog could go a long way in keeping you accountable and working towards personal growth and self-improvement.
The blog should chronicle your struggles, small victories, and your goals. Before long, you might even attract an audience who will relate to your diary.
But remember, at the end of the day, your blog is about you and not gaining an audience.
16. Reach Work Early
You’ve probably heard this well-worn adage a million times a day: the early bird catches the worm.
And it is every bit as true as it is gross.
The benefit of reaching work early is that you’re able to give yourself a head start over your colleagues and your assignments. You’ll feel extremely rejuvenated when you look up at the clock and it’s barely one hour in and you’ve already completed your work. Not to mention the fact that there are fewer people around, which means there are fewer distractions, which translates into higher productivity for you.
17. Race Against the Clock
While you cannot increase your allocated time, you can race against time. This will help you if you find yourself constantly distracted and have millions of thoughts zapping through your brain at a lightning pace.
Racing against time allows you to become hyper-concentrated towards a singular objective. You can shove junk thoughts in favor of productive thoughts. This only works if you convince yourself that the task must be completed before the timer runs out, through any means necessary.
18. Take Time Off From Work
You have every right to your personal space. And working round the clock 365 days a year is ironically very unproductive. Statistically speaking, time off from work results in more success at work and reduces your overall stress.
Time away from work can also boost creativity. Some of the biggest platforms of today, such as Hamilton and Instagram were due to vacation.
These are our top 18 ways of staying productive at work. If you want to add more to this list or feel that we missed something important, do let us know in the comments below!