Work can be a distracting place.
While work should be a place you go to get things done, we all have a tendency to be far less productive than we’d like.
Most workers report being productive and getting things done during just 60% of most work days.
It should come as no surprise that our world is ripe with distractions. From YouTube to Facebook, it’s not hard to get derailed from even the most important projects.
The question is … how do you stay focused and productive at work?
Keep reading for an in-depth look at how to increase productivity in the workplace.
If you’re like most office dwellers–whether your office is at home or just one in an endless sea of cubes–your desk is probably not the most organized place on earth.
While that might sound like the least of your worries, a clean desk can be a huge productivity booster.
Before you dive into trying to find the best hacks and tools to improve your productivity in the workplace, take a few minutes to clean up your workspace. Organize and put away paper files and clean up the little things like pens and headphones.
The more you can simplify your workspace, the more productive you’ll be.
Work in Chunks
For many, the workday is both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, you (hopefully) have defined hours to work. On the other hand, you have defined hours to work but little structure for what to do with those hours.
If you’re not careful, the workday can quickly become a series of distractions, rather than a focused day of work.
One way to avoid this trap is to schedule your day, working on specific tasks for set periods of time.
A popular and effective way to budget your time is to use a process like the Pomodoro Technique. With this process, you use a timer and work for 25 minutes then take a 5-minute break. After a few rounds, you take a longer break–allowing you to schedule time for both work and rest.
Keep Your Head Down–Avoid Colleagues
Another productivity black hole in the workplace are distractions from colleagues.
Unless you’re vigilant, it’s easy to let quick conversations turn into drawn-out discussions that do little but distract you and your coworkers from actually working.
Your best bet for minimizing distracting coworkers is to politely make it clear that throughout certain parts of the day, you just need to focus. Let them know that even a little small talk could really derail what you’re working.
While preserving good relationships with coworkers is important–getting the work done should take priority.
Just Say No to Meetings
Meetings are where productivity goes to die.
If you’ve ever spent a day running from meeting to meeting, you know how painful they can be.
A recent study found that many workers spend up to 50% of their time in meetings. While many meetings start with good intentions and can occasionally be productive, most are just wasted working hours.
If you can avoid meetings, do it. Your time will be better spent on actual work. Unless you think a meeting can truly solve a problem, you’ll be better off not attending.
Make Technology Your Friend
While technology can be a source of massive distraction, it doesn’t have to be so.
Technology, surprisingly, can be leveraged for serious productivity. You just need to make it work for you, not the other way around.
The challenge with technology is that it often feels as though the deck has been stacked against us. When you buy a new phone or computer, many of the notifications are on by default. When you download an app, you’re immediately prompted to turn on notifications.
You don’t want to miss anything, right?
Unless you absolutely need to have notifications on, it’s best to turn all of them off.
The same goes for the extra apps or browser tabs that so often get left open while we work. Completely blocking your browser, except for what you absolutely need, is one of the best ways to ensure that technology isn’t running your day.
Shutdown Social Media for Better Productivity in the Workplace
If you really want to increase productivity in the workplace, you’ve got to cut the cord to social media.
As wasteful as many other activities are, social media is one of the worst. One recent survey found that workers spent an average of one hour a day on social media sites. That’s like taking an additional hour lunch break every day of the week.
If you’re having trouble pulling yourself away from your Facebook feed, start by shutting off your social media notifications. Once you’ve done that, try to set aside some scheduled time–preferably during break times already set aside by your employer–each day to check your feeds.
Schedule Time for Email
If you rely on email to communicate with coworkers or clients, it’s easy to let it turn into another productivity killer.
With email constantly flowing into your inbox, it’s tempting to feel like you need to respond right away.
Rather than keeping your email up 24/7, shut it down and only check it at scheduled points throughout the day. It can be scary at first, but limiting your email usage to three or four strategically timed points throughout the day can free you up and keep you more focused through the day.
Odds are that all the urgent emails you’ve been instantly replying to can wait.
Putting It All Together
Staying focused at work can be tough.
In a world driven by distraction, increasing productivity in the workplace has become has become a real challenge for both employees and employers.
Start increasing your productivity today by decreasing distractions, better managing your time and using technology to boost your productivity–not detract from it.
Ready to take your productivity to the next level? Check out the rest of the blog for more productivity insights.