While you can’t become more productive overnight, you can start to adopt small changes in your daily routine that will reap huge long term rewards. Try putting some of these science-backed habits into place, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing your efficiency at work and maximizing your daily productivity in no time…
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”— Benjamin Franklin
1. Prepare & Prioritize
Set yourself up for success by preparing for your day the previous evening. Lay out your outfit, pack your gym bag, prepare your lunch, and review the materials for tomorrow’s meeting. These tasks might seem small, but knocking them out the night before will save you a ton of unnecessary stress in the morning and increase productivity from the start.
Additionally, spending just a small amount of time before bed developing and prioritizing a well thought out to-do list will allow you to strategically attack the day and your important tasks with a calm and calculated mindset— and save you a lot of time and brain power in the morning. This is a simple way to save yourself some precious minutes.
“Every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution,” says Best Selling Author & Thought Leader, Brian Tracy. “It takes only about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort through the day.”
2. Exercise Regularly
Did you know that If you don't exercise regularly, you could be putting both your health — and your job — at risk?
One 2017 study found that even small amounts of exercise can contribute to massive productivity benefits in the workplace, including an increase in attention span, working memory, problem solving, getting things done, and decision making. These benefits are generally maintained for 2-4 hours post exercise, so try to squeeze in a morning workout before heading to the office to feel the effects during your workday.
“Sedentary behavior,” on the other hand, “is associated with impaired cognition,” according to a published study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
So, if you can’t commit to a full workout each morning, try implementing small changes to get your heart rate pumping, such as power walking during your lunch break or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Your brain will thank you later!
3. Eliminate Social Media Distractions
If you’re having trouble resisting the urge to constantly check the frantic stream of emails, texts, and social media notifications that incessantly floods your device, you’re not alone in this self-control struggle...
In fact, a recent study surveyed roughly 1,200 employees and found that a whopping 90 percent admitted to checking personal social media accounts during the work day. 60 percent said that they check it between one and five times per day, and nearly 20 percent check it more than 10 times per day!
If you find yourself mindlessly checking your social media and procrastinating during your work day, consider a digital detox so you spend less time on it in general, and/or disabling notifications from particularly ‘noisy’ social media apps to help keep distractions to a minimum, and increase your workplace productivity.
Success and surroundings go hand in hand. Stacks of mail, bursting file cabinets, and disorganized office drawers may seem harmless, but clutter and disorganization can have a huge negative impact on your productivity.
According to Psychology Today, physical clutter can lead to low subjective well-being, unhealthy eating habits, poor mental hygiene, and less efficient thinking. In fact, the effects of cluttered workspaces are so severe that one study found that it actually led to a company’s financial loss, equivalent to 10% of a manager’s salary.
Try amping up your productivity by creating the ideal work environment for yourself. Set aside time to declutter your workspace and incorporate positive changes that will ultimately lead to increased workplace satisfaction, and better overall performance.
“If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it. After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.” — Kevin Systrom
5. Commit to Five Minutes of Work
No matter how well-organized you are, chances are that you have probably found yourself binge-watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, or online shopping when you should have been spending time on work or school-related projects.
Co-Founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, says that he uses a time management trick by committing himself to doing five minutes of whatever he is putting off.
Systrom’s five minute anti-procrastination hack activates the “Zeigarnik Effect”, in which it's much harder to get unfinished tasks out of your brain than completed ones. So the next time you’re struggling to start a task, commit to just five minutes of work, and it’s more than likely that you'll end up finishing what you've started.
6. Set Self-Imposed Deadlines
If the project that you’re working on doesn’t have an exact deadline, it can be extremely tempting to keep pushing it back further and further.
The Journal of Consumer Research published a study that showed longer deadlines, or no deadline at all can lead even productive people to procrastinate on a task, or just not complete it at all. While setting long-term goals is still helpful, it's the short term ones that work best as productivity tools.
Avoid procrastination by creating a false sense of urgency with strict, self-imposed deadlines that will motivate you to stay on track. If you feel you have to get something done by the end of the day, you're much more likely to find enough time to complete the task.
7. Catch Some ZZZ’s
One of the biggest barriers to productivity is lack of sleep. In fact, according to this Harvard health study, getting reduced or insufficient sleep can lead to a greater risk of lowered productivity, increased errors, and lower levels of efficiency.
Luckily, our relationship with productivity and sleep works both ways — Just as poor sleep worsens productivity, good sleep enhances it!
Faster reaction times
Better judgment and decision-making skills
Smoother creativity flow
Fewer errors and more accuracy
Lowered risk of burnout
8. Listen to Music
Many people have found that listening to music while working encourages creativity, and drastically improves their workplace productivity.
One study found that people who listened to music had a significantly better overall mood, leading them to not only be on-task for longer periods of time, but to also complete more work.
However, not all music is equally as effective — as it turns out, listening to music with lyrics can actually be distracting while you read, study, and write because it forces your brain into multitasking. So consider opting for nature sounds or classical music when you need to focus on the task at hand.
Music tempo also plays a role in stimulating creativity and learning; listening to music set in the 50 to 80-beat range puts the brain into an ideal state that scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory, and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”
Try listening to this Bach Classical Study Playlist the next time you need to boost your productivity while working.
9. Take a Break
Working for long stretches without breaks tends to lead to stress and exhaustion, and can create "cerebral congestion”.
Increase your productivity and efficiency by rewarding yourself with a five to ten minute break after finishing a task, and allowing yourself time to step away and refresh when you’re hit with a spell of writer's block.
According to a study published by Fast Company, you can help keep your creative juices flowing by working in segments of less than one hour, with shorter breaks in between. Some people find the Pomodoro technique particularly helpful, in which you work for 25 minutes, followed by a short break.
10. L-Theanine & Caffeine Supplements
When we’re putting off a big to-do, sometimes all we need is a quick boost of energy. Consider trying preformulated L-Theanine & Caffeine Supplements, such as Proper Wild, to “neurohack” your productivity.
“When combined, these ingredients are scientifically proven to boost your energy, focus and productivity, while significantly reducing the negative side effects associated with caffeine use: those unwanted jitters and big crash!" says Proper Wild CEO & Co-Founder, Vincent Bradley.
In fact, a 2013 study found that, when used in conjunction, the two substances helped a group of young adults to focus remarkably better during demanding tasks. The study’s participants also reported feeling more alert and less tired in general.