Sometimes, finding steady motivation in the workplace can be tough – whether you’ve become complacent in your current position, have too much going on, or simply haven’t been sleeping well.
There are endless reasons why you may need a boost in productivity to get through the day.
What’s more, being able to maintain consistent productivity is a little known hack to getting things done well.
Instead of having a peaks-and-valleys style workflow, being consistently productive will help take your business or work life to the next level.
We tapped into the mindset of CEOs and business owners to get their best tips on staying productive at work – and some of them will surprise you.
Take Advantage of Email Folders
Most professionals can probably relate to an overflowing email inbox that can be difficult to manage, especially when you’re on the road traveling for business. Matthew Ross, co-owner and COO of one of the leading sleep websites, says, “to stay organised and productive, I utilise over a dozen different folders. Every email I receive, I promptly move it to a specific folder to make sure it doesn’t get neglected. Not only does this help keep me organised but it also helps me prioritise which emails I should be responding to first.” He says you can even set certain rules for folders to automate the process depending on which platform you use.
Switch Up Your Workstation
“I recently purchased a desk bike that has helped improve my productivity in the afternoons,” says Ross. “Essentially, it’s just like the exercise bike you would find at your gym except it has a desktop that extends upwards for your laptop. I don’t use it all day obviously but it’s definitely nice to get up from my normal desk and cycle a little bit in the afternoon after eating lunch.”
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there before – you eat lunch and then you suddenly feel like you need to take a nap once 1 or 2 p.m. rolls around. “Luckily, the exercise desk helps me wake up and relieve stress while still getting work done.”
Use Your Earphones to Your Advantage
“When someone on our team wears headphones or earphones, we’re not allowed to disturb him/her. It means he/she wants to be focused and concentrated on what they do, whether it’s coding, designing, copywriting or else,” says Jonathan Aufray, co-founder and CEO at Growth Hackers. This is a polite and simple social cue that will help you stay focused without distraction – even if you’re not listening to anything.
Write a Mindful To-Do List
“At the beginning of each week, we recommend (it’s optional, not compulsory but almost everyone does it as it helps them) our team members make a to-do list on the things they want to achieve by the end of the week,” says Aufray. “We do the same with smaller, daily to-do lists. This allows people to set small milestones and see what they’ve achieved.”
It may also be helpful to take a look at the length of your to-do list before getting started. If it’s too long, you may get lost in the small tasks. Try to only include the top tasks you want to get done.
Work from Home!
While some people think that working from home means daytime TV, afternoon naps and a general lack of motivation, Aufray says it’s actually quite the opposite if it’s a regular routine. “Remote work isn’t for everyone but there are many people who are more productive when they work from home,” says Aufray. “Whether it’s from a coffee shop or from elsewhere, working remotely for up to three days per week will result in more productivity and a clearer mindset.”
Pick a Desk Near the Window
According to HBR, almost half of employees feel tired due to the absence of natural light at their office. So, daylight seems to have a major influence on productivity. “If your work desk is far from the window and there’s no way you can change that, you should at least try to compensate for the lack of sunlight by using a bright lamp,” says John Breese, founder and CEO of HappySleepyHead.
Take Naps at Work (Yes, Really!)
Most people have a one-hour break in the middle of their day and use it for lunch. However, according to Breese, 15-20 minutes should be more than enough to have lunch, so the rest of your break can be dedicated to a quick nap. Even sleeping for only half an hour may increase your productivity immensely.
“Focusing on one thing at a time is a better way to manage your time than trying to juggle multiple tasks at once,” says Sacha Ferrandi, founder and principal of Texas Hard Money and Source Capital Funding. “As a business owner, it can sometimes be difficult not to get wrapped up in multiple things at a time, which can actually lead to a decrease in productivity and performance.” Allowing yourself to give your full attention to the task at hand will bring greater success in your personal life and your business’.
Take a Walk
Take a break and a deep breath after completing a task before reviewing your work. “Get up from your desk, stretch out and maybe take a walk to the restroom or water cooler,” says Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful. “Let your mind reset prior to reviewing your work. This process is almost like having a second set of eyes reviewing your work. There’s a good chance it alters your perspective and you may find revisions are necessary that would have otherwise been overlooked.”
Surround Yourself with Productive People
You’ve probably heard it many times: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. “If you hang around unproductive people who waste their days away, guess what? It will rub off on you,” says Thomas R. Harris, owner of The Exceptional Skills. “Instead, hang around productive people, and it will push you to be more productive.”
Learn to Say “No”
Harris suggests that saying yes to one thing is saying no to another. When you say yes to everyone’s requests, you are saying no to the more important tasks that you have to do. Be helpful, but limit what you say yes to.