Boost your productivity
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9 tips guaranteed to boost your productivity today

4 Jul 2017

Feeling distracted? Unproductive? Sluggish? We can help you knuckle down and get through the day.

It always feels so good to leave work feeling like you had a productive day. Feeling overwhelmed and busy all day can make you feel burned out, but if you’re organised and getting through your to-do list, you’ll feel incredibly smug.

However, everything comes with peaks and troughs, so, for every week or month of top-notch productivity, you will probably experience an occasional slump where you will feel unable to get anything done.

Whether it’s the Monday blues, the Friday feeling or those three hump days in between, we can help you boost your productivity when work feels impossible.

Balancing the noise

Noise is one of the main distractions for employees, especially for those who work in an open-plan office.

Phones ringing, doors shutting and general chatting will all play their part in distracting you from your work, and, if you’re in the mood to be distracted, it’s easy to lose productivity.

However, you can use noise in your favour. Smooth, monotonous background noise can block out your office surroundings and help you focus on what’s in front of you.

Noise-cancelling headphones would also be a good investment. There are a huge number of music playlists to choose from on YouTube and Spotify, as well as ambient noise sites and apps such as Coffitivity, Noisli and A Soft Murmur.

Change location

Whether the office is loud and busy or you’re just feeling unproductive from sitting at your busy work desk, a change of location can do wonders for your productivity levels.

If you feel like it’s the distraction of other people, loud phones or being interrupted by colleagues, you need to find a quiet, unused meeting room or office to hole up in for a few hours. Power through your work and then return to your desk later on.

If you’re not so much distracted as you are simply unproductive, a change of scenery might benefit you more. For those who feel unmotivated, working from home, in a café or even outside in the sunshine might be enough to help them get some work done.

Sometimes, feeling less like you’re in work can boost your productivity and prevent you from getting distracted by other things.

Take a break

A half-hour period in which you do absolutely no work may sound like the opposite of a productivity tip, but regular breaks will help to keep you focused.

We’ve advised you before on how to take good breaks and, even if you don’t use them to stretch your legs or get some fresh air, letting your mind wander for five minutes every now and again can still help you stay productive.

A little distraction can be a good thing, as long as it’s kept under control. If you find yourself getting distracted repeatedly during a project, set a timer for five minutes where you stop trying to work and let your mind wander. When the timer goes off, get back to work.

Get some emergency cuteness

Speaking of letting your mind (and your mouse) wander, hands up who is guilty of working on a project only to fall into the rabbit hole that is looking at adorable animals on the internet?

Don’t worry, a little cuteness can go a long way towards a productive day. Studies show that looking at baby animals can actually increase your focus.

As humans, we’re naturally built to respond to baby animal features with positive emotions, which can boost your productivity and mood. Have we convinced you? Then check out these floofy delights to help you finish that project.

Limit your works in progress

Being able to multitask can make you feel proud when it comes to getting things done, but it can also leave you feeling stressed and burned out.

Multitasking has its place at work and, when it’s executed properly, it can be very effective. However, it can also be productivity’s worst nightmare.

To counteract this, you should adopt the Personal Kanban system of working, derived from a manufacturing process used to build cars in the 1940s.

Basically, it involves setting up a board with three sections: options, doing and done.

Put all the things you have to do on post-its in the options section, to see how manageable your daily list is.

The doing section should never have more than three things in it at once. This is how to prevent your to-do list from overwhelming you. Moving things gradually over to the done section will give you a boost and continue to increase your productivity.

Have a snack at the ready

The importance of slow-energy-release foods and healthy snacks are important here. Bananas, nuts, protein bars and yoghurts are all good to have on your desk for when you start to feel peckish.

Keeping a constant supply is important, because the one day you forget to bring a backup will seriously damage your productivity levels.

Not only will your cravings and hunger kick in and distract you, but if you’re aware of your lack of snack, you’ll be thinking about it before you even need it.

Use tech tools

Technology can increase our distractions at work, but there are also a huge amount of tools to counteract these distractions, keep us focused and streamline our workload.

Trello is ideal for managing to-do lists and organising deadlines. You could even use it as an online Personal Kanban system.

Slack can streamline internal communication and eliminate any unnecessary back and forth between emails.

Eternity Time Log keeps an accurate track of how you’re spending your time and helps you see ‘where all your time goes’. This can help you streamline some of your work habits and become more productive.

Group tasks together and power through them

We all know how effective marking tasks off as done can be when it comes to productivity. Newton’s theory of motion states: “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it.”

Put simply, if you allow yourself to remain unproductive, you will continue to not get anything done. If you start working, you are more likely to keep going.

Grouping a number of similar tasks together, particularly small ones, and powering through them will help you jump-start the force needed to get the proverbial ball rolling.

Avoid your email

While a huge number of online tools and apps can help your productivity, your email is probably going to be one of your biggest time sucks on the days you feel unproductive.

If you don’t have time to get your inbox organised today, simply decide to block off time to power through your projects and tasks, and keep your email closed.

When you have a chance, tackle your inbox. Streamlining your email process will save you plenty of time in the future and increase your productivity.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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