Have you ever looked at the clock, glanced at your still-unfinished to-do list and felt your stomach drop: how can it be that time already?! No matter who you are, where you work or what you do for a living, all of us are trying to get as much done as possible.
It can feel like fighting a losing battle: we might get distracted, we might overwork ourselves and we might actually be working in a counterproductive environment.
In order to get the most out of our days, here are 5 quick tips to maximise productivity and minimise lost hours.
Get tough stuff done first
When creating your to-do list for the day, it’s tempting to put an easy task first so you can get the satisfaction of crossing it off. Unfortunately, this is not helping your overall productivity. Leaving a bigger, more complicated project until later actually increases your chance of falling behind or getting side-tracked with other work. So if this sounds like you, bite the bullet and move that assignment you’ve been dreading to the top of the list.
Yes, sometimes all it takes is good posture. A recent study published with the American Psychological Association found that participants who sat up straight reported ‘higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood and lower fear.’ The conclusion? An upright seated position can increase a positive mood, compared to a slumped seated position. When you feel better, you work better, so if you’re facing a particularly busy day, sit up straight and get it done.
Download helpful apps
We rely on our smartphones for everything these days – communication, directions, weather forecasts, sports updates, entertainment, etc. – so why should it be any different with work? There are a multitude of apps available for download to increase your productivity and improve your focus.
Here are 3 suggestions:
Focus booster – if you find yourself frequently wondering where the day has gone, then it’s time to download Focus booster. This app helps you break your workday into measureable chunks of time and helps you track your productivity progress so you don’t get overworked and stressed out.
GoToMeeting – meetings can be tedious, especially if you have to travel outside the office for them. A videoconferencing app like GoToMeeting that allows you to join a call anywhere is the perfect timesaver for remote workers and those constantly on the go.
Workflow – Ever notice how much time it takes to complete little tasks like getting directions or uploading content to your social media? Well, now you don’t have to waste any more: Workflow connects to your other apps and allows you to customise your phone to automate certain tasks. For example, you can program your phone to upload your latest photo to your Facebook or call an Uber before your next calendar appointment.
Cute animal therapy
Back in 2012, Hiroshima University conducted a study on the effect of cute animal pictures on productivity. Surprisingly, the research revealed participants who looked at cute images with pleasant associations – like kittens or puppies – improved their performance at concentration tasks by 44 percent. So don’t be ashamed if you’re caught cooing over some little lambs or a lion cub – it’s all for the sake of productivity!
Eat dark chocolate
Here’s another excuse to keep eating chocolate: it will keep you energised throughout the day! Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids that increase blood flow to the brain. A little nibble will give you that extra jolt of energy to get you through your afternoon slump.
Anything and everything can become a potential timewaster: a conversation between two nearby colleagues that you’re dying to join, a pointless yet intriguing article you come across online, some juicy Facebook gossip glimpsed in a brief scan of your newsfeed as well as one of these additional productivity killers that can strike at any time. However benign these little distractions are, they can add up and soon you’re looking at the clock wondering where the past two hours went. Productivity tips and hacks like an effective to-do list, apps and even a square of dark chocolate can help us stay focused and efficient.
Gemma Falconer is a member of the Demand Generation team at Citrix and GoToMeeting, a cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles. She has been using collaboration tools/video conferencing/online meetings for the past 6 years and splits her working time between the office and home. Having experienced the flexibility and various advantages of using such technology, Gemma would love for employers to seriously consider offering collaboration tools and flexible working for their employees so they too can truly benefit. Gemma is a mother, keen volleyball player and writer. Find her on Twitter on LinkedIn.’