Happy October friends! We’ve really been enjoying picking monthly themes for our blog so we’ve decided to spend the month of October deep-diving into ways to help improve and sustain mental and emotional health in the workplace. We’ve all experienced the Sunday scaries before, but it doesn’t mean we have to make a habit out of it.
We are starting things off by handing out our top ten tips for optimizing our productivity at work. Productivity is a key player in keeping us happy at work. When we are productive during working hours we can not only eliminate stress but we also feel good about ourselves. There’s nothing better than looking at a completed to-do list at the end of the day.
So let’s not waste anymore of that valuable time of yours and jump right in. Here are Team Sleekform’s top 10 ways to get down and productive at work.
1. Always Find the Fun in What You Do.
Okay, okay, I know you probably just rolled your eyes at this. I know work isn’t always fun but I try my best to always find a bit of fun in everything I do, and I’ve got a pretty good system worked out.
When I’m about to start a task that I’m not necessarily looking forward to, I first ask myself why I’m doing it. By asking myself why I’m better able to see the value in the task. Once I have a good understanding that I’m going to be contributing something of value to the company that sense of dread starts to dissipate.
That’s when I try to squeeze in the fun. I also like to color outside the lines, so to speak. I try and always take my process to a place of play and put my own spin on the job at hand. When I’m able to really call an idea my own I’m always able to stay focused a lot longer than if I were to just do the bare minimum.
2. Keep That Work Set Up Ergonomically Fresh.
Surprise, surprise! We’re talking about ergonomics on the blog again, buuuut if you’re uncomfortable while you work you are without a doubt going to be distracted. You’re going to wind up wiggling and fidgeting and looking for excuses to get up and walk around. If your discomfort evolves into injury then you’re really in trouble. Doctor appointments, sick days- the time lost will start to add up and your productivity will suffer.
If we feel well, we perform well so get those computer screens up at eye level, your wrists at waist level and get those hips tilted forward so your back is happy.
3. Get Your Work Station Organized
Is it sparking joy? No? Then it’s cut!
Get those knickknacks outta there! In order to stay focused try and only to have the things, you need within arms reach and keep everything else put away in its place. Yes, you heard that right. Try and organize your space with purpose. Give everything a designated space that keeps it easily accessible if you need it and try to always return it to that space when you don’t need it anymore. Physical clutter and quickly become mental clutter- you’d be amazed how good you’ll feel after doing a purge. Almost like a weight has been lifted. Treat the space you work in as a sacred space. Create a place where your imagination can run freely.
4. Declutter Your Computer
This is a big one for me. I am a bonafide Queen of saving files all willy-nilly to my computer desktop with no title, no folder, no nothing. If I start Monday morning off with an empty desktop often by Friday it’s a frightening scene of thousands of icons and files piled on top of each other. It’s pretty shameful, I’m not proud. It is a habit that is helpful to no one. If you ask me to send you something, it takes me a million years to find it and it ends up not only slowing down my workflow, but it slows down my computer as well.
I’ve started organizing my computer desktop at the end of the day so I can open my computer the next day and have a completely fresh start.
Company-wide, we have a very elaborate google drive that has completely changed the productivity and overall organization of the company. We updated it daily and then to weekly checks to ensure that everything we have is in there. We also use it as a way to archive any completed projects, just in case we need to reference it later on. Having a communally organized space saves a lot of time because whenever anyone needs to reference anything we don’t need to go searching for it, or bugging another team member and interrupt their productivity. We all know where everything is kept and how the system works. It also keeps our own computers free from clutter.
5. Hydration Station.
Drinking water isn’t only healthy, it refreshes you as well. Once you feel the first sign of fatigue or hunger, a glass of water can push them away. Then you can finish what you’re doing and rest at a later time.
Besides, not all stomach rumblings are signs of hunger, and drinking a glass of water usually deals with it.
Just make sure you have water within arms’ reach. That way you stay focused at work instead of walking to the water station — and becoming prey to distractions!
6. Take A Notification Vacation.
There’s nothing more lethal to workflow than the beep-beeps and ding-dongs of emails, texts, slacks, Instagrams, calls from your mom, etc, etc. So do yourself a favor and just turn ‘em off. Just do it. Flick ‘em off.
There’s been a ton of research on this topic and experts have discovered that it takes about 25 minutes - well, 23 minutes and 15 seconds to be exact- to regain focus after an interruption. That means every time you answer a notification you receive during the day it will take you TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES to get your groove back! No wonder some days fly by and you feel like you didn’t get anything done.
Woof. Just turn off the notifications and buckle down and just get it done!
7. To Do: Make A To-Do List.
Is there anything more satisfying than crossing something off a list? Personally I love writing down a to-do list the old fashioned way- one a piece of paper. Our team at Sleekform has recently started using Monday.com as our project management tool, but even still, I continue to rock the pen and paper method as well, just for that sweet satisfaction of crossing an item of the list.
8. Prioritize Tasks
To-do lists are great but if you jam-pack your list with too many tasks to really get done, the point of them (feeling productive and self-satisfied) is moot! You’ll end up feeling like you failed when really you just need to do a little bit of prioritizing.
Before writing your list take a look at your deadlines. What needs to get done today, and what can wait until tomorrow? Next, decide which task you want to do the least, and then do it first. I find it’s always best to do the tasks I find the most tedious before lunch when my mind and focus are freshest. I try and plan my meeting for the afternoon so I can get all my tasks done.
9. Boundaries, Baby.
It’s important to take ownership of your work and most importantly your time. If you let people know what hours you need to yourself and that you’ll be unavailable during that specific time (with do not disturb mode on your notifications) people will respect that and understand. If you set our specific “free time” for your teammates to pose questions and talk they will use that time wisely.
At Sleekform we are also big fans of the “standing meeting”. Unless there’s an urgent matter or something that is better-communicated face to face we keep all our meetings set during very specific days and times. Meetings are great, but if they go on too long or happen too often they can easily eat up valuable task time.
10. Work In 90-Minute Intervals.
My favorite way to work is by doing what I call a “productivity sprint” which is when I turn off all my notification and set a timer for 90 minutes and work non-stop for the entirety of those 90 minutes. This helps me stay focused and I’m always so surprised by how much I accomplish in that hour and a half. I find this method especially helpful when I’m doing anything creative- I’ll say it again (and forever) distraction is the number one idea killer.
Once I complete a “productivity sprint” I’ll take a substantial 20-minute break. I’ll step away from my computer, make a cup of coffee and give my mind a break and then hop back to it. When I get into a groove like this the days flow by and the work gets done effortlessly. If you’ve never tried this, I highly recommend it. Go ahead! Sprint!
And there you have it- our favorite ways to stay productive. We understand that some days are more productive than others. There are a lot of contributing factors that play into how much work we get done. Did you sleep well last night? Are there other things on your mind that are distracting you? Life is full of ups and downs and we can’t always have winning days, but if we implement systems and give ourselves the proper tools we can conquer the tougher days with grace and end up feeling good about how we handled ourselves when things got a bit tricky.
Do you have any additional ways you stay productive during the day? We’d love for you to share them with us! Drop us a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our inbox is always open and we love to hear from you!