We all experience some highly unproductive days at work. Sometimes there are just too many distractions which cause us to lose focus. Other times, we just do not have the motivation to finish certain tasks, so we procrastinate.
Either way, such mishaps take a huge toll on the company we work for as well as our own personal work ethic. The work just keeps piling up, and ignoring it forever is not an option.
Being more productive, or improving your team’s productivity, is the result of careful planning and focused efforts. It requires a diligent approach to time management and workflow practices.
Here are five strategies that can help keep you and your employees motivated and productive:
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1. Invest in an inspiring office design
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Although it may sound like a load of ‘millennial nonsense’, the majority of workers are far more inspired to work in a well-designed office than in a drab grey cubicle. If you are unsure whether or not your office design inspires productivity, here are some areas you can make instant improvements:
- Color – It’s well-established that certain colors can impact psychological wellbeing. Red can keep employees stimulated while blue can help them be more productive.
- Lighting – Poor lighting can cause fatigue and eyestrain. Make sure you provide your employees with quality lighting.
- Lounge – Having a dedicated area for tea breaks is truly important for maintaining creativity and focus. Consider installing a cosy café-like setup or lounge near the kitchen area – just try to keep the noise at a minimum.
- Nature – Inspire your workers with high-definition images of natural landscapes or by adding lots of plants. Plants are a great option because not only do they look good, they also provide fresh oxygen and clean air.
- Clutter – Take care of clutter by moving it into storage units or getting rid of it altogether. Invest in multiple-use furniture pieces that can unlock and lock together for various uses. A cluttered office is never beneficial to productivity levels.
- Comfort – Consider standing desks, stability ball chairs, and other health-focused furniture. It helps overall productivity to allow your employees to move around from time to time, because interruptions in the form of back pain and other discomforts can drastically reduce productivity.
2. Devote time to planning your workday
There are many ways in which you can plan your workday, depending on your work style and priorities. Start by arriving at your desk about 10 minutes earlier than usual and planning out your workday before it begins.
A great way to keep things simple and productive is to choose the three most important tasks of the day ahead and just focus on completing these three tasks. No matter what happens, stay focused on these crucial tasks, because finishing them will give you a great sense of accomplishment.
If you have open-ended tasks or projects, it’s not a bad idea to give yourself a deadline. A manageable level of self-induced stress can actually be quite helpful in giving you focus. An easy way of doing this is by making a classic to-do list. Whether it’s on paper or an app on your phone or computer, here are some tips on how to create a proper to-do list:
- Do not make generalizations – Make the tasks as specific as possible.
- Prioritize tasks accordingly – Don’t waste time on less important tasks when you have bigger ones waiting for you.
- Set deadlines for each task – Set deadlines in order to have some room for adjustments during your workday to keep work from piling up.
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3. Eliminate any unnecessary distractions
Minimizing interruptions can sometimes be challenging. You cannot always anticipate if something that will interrupt your workday is about to happen. However, there are some things in your power you can do to manage them through good planning and rational thought.
Firstly, do not even think about working longer hours or packing, even more, work into your shift. This is a recipe for a disaster called occupational burnout, and neither you nor your employer wants that. Minimizing interruptions can mean setting clear office hours, keeping your door closed, or even working from home when it comes to time-sensitive projects.
Another distraction is, of course, your phone. If you cannot keep off social network apps, just uninstall them. Prioritize your phone usage at work. Use it exclusively for things that boost your productivity and focus.
4. Take regular breaks, even if you’re busy
Regular breaks are essential for providing focus and improving creativity. There are even different kinds of breaks you can use to keep your brain stimulated enough to finish what you started.
If you feel like you just read one sentence several times without even realizing what you had read, stand up and move around a bit. Use a 10-minute timer – just set it to beep every 10 minutes and take a one minute break every time it does.
Working long and exhausting hours may earn you some points with the boss, but it is a real creativity killer. Instead of losing all of your strength by carrying certain projects, try taking longer breaks from them. This will give you time to subconsciously think about it and consequently, new ideas will develop in your brain.
5. Take care of your physical health
You cannot expect to be productive if you do not take proper care of your mind and body. Maintaining a healthy diet can actively improve your focus and increase creativity. By undertaking regular exercise outside of work, you will notice a huge reduction in the strain in your muscles. This means less wiggling and adjusting of your seat and stretching and yawning while at your desk.
Sleep is also extremely important. Never expect to become the next Nikola Tesla and sleep for just 4 hours a day. This kind of lifestyle will ultimately leave you feeling worse and worse until you experience the infamous burnout. Maintain a healthy sleep schedule, and if you cannot do that, try to sneak in a 20-minute power nap at work. You would be surprised how refreshed you can feel after such a short snooze!
Hydration is also key. Your brain cannot work if you are not hydrated enough. Dehydration can also cause serious migraines, and those are never fun. Fill up a personal water bottle and keep it by your side. You will not have to get up constantly to get more water and you will stay hydrated throughout the whole workday.
Maintaining your own personal motivation as well as the productivity levels of your employees can be a very difficult task, but when thought-out properly and boosted by optimal working conditions, any company can become prosperous.
It’s not always solely up to the entrepreneur because the employees also need to take responsibility for their tasks. By taking care of yourself and having a carefully planned schedule, you will save yourself a lot of time and stress, and also help your company thrive for years to come.
Always be at the top of your game, and if you can’t, take a short break! It’s the easiest thing in the world to focus if you work on just one task at a time. Remember to take it easy. Put away your phone and turn off that other monitor. Imagine your focus as a straight line aiming for the goal.
Guest Author: Chloe Smith is a cycling enthusiast, business consultant and part-time writer. She believes that passion, courage and, above all, knowledge breed success.