Tag Archives: Productivity

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3 Tricks to Staying Focused at Work

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Improve Focus at Work
There are some weeks where staying focused at work isn’t a problem, then there are others wherein the hours seem to drag along. These three tips will help you turn those daunting tasks and endless unmotivated days back into productive and efficient progress.

Manage your time wisely

This trick sounds like common sense, but there is a science to managing your time for productivity. In order to stay focused, you have to allocate time purposefully and distribute tasks throughout the day based on when you are most productive. Stick to a regular schedule or routine in order to counteract procrastination, and schedule in breaks to avoid burnout.

Try different ways to structure your day to find out what works best. You could try doing all the creative work first thing in the morning, when your mind is fresh, and save mindless tasks for last. Or you could start the day by responding to emails and structuring the day ahead of you. Whichever schedule you discover works best, make sure you manage your time to ensure all work is done when it needs to be. Keeping deadlines in mind is also a great way to maintain focus.

Keep it organized

Staying organized is an excellent way to encourage focus and productivity. In addition to organizing your time, it’s also important to organize your working space and tasks at hand. Keep your desk clean and free from clutter so you can focus on fulfilling your responsibilities.

Organizing your tasks in a to-do list is another great way to stay laser focused on what needs to get done. You can list out issues that need to be addressed within the week, the day or even the hour. As an added bonus, once you finish a task you can enjoy the satisfying feeling of crossing it off your list. A to-do list doesn’t have to be done with pen and paper, there are multiple applications, like Evernote and Wunderlist, that can help you keep track of your checklists right from your phone.

Accept that you will occasionally get bored

Getting bored is inevitable with any job, but that shouldn’t make you lose focus. Even the jobs you truly love and enjoy may get boring in some aspects. Move past the boredom and invest your time and effort in remaining focused at work by reminding yourself that what you do is worth powering through despite the boredom. In order to achieve this, pinpoint your goal and work steadily towards that, while reminding yourself of your purpose and the overarching mission and strategy behind your tasks.


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The Most Productive Office Layout

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Image from Mashable.com

Image from Mashable.com

Incentives and bonuses may not be enough to encourage a productive workforce. Sometimes, the office layout plays a large role in motivation, and should be adjusted for optimum work.

According to Mashable, the most productive office layout consists of comfortable and ergonomic workspaces. That means chairs that encourage good posture and screens and desks that are adjusted to height. A productive office layout should also have natural lighting, be free of clutter, and have the occasional office plant. Give employees space to walk and stretch their legs, as well as the right colors to suit your tasks, whether it’s creative or detail-oriented.

According to Forbes, a highly productive office must have adequate lighting and sound control. This means that employees should be able to focus on their work without distracting sounds. Try installing sound-absorbing panels or agreeing on a playlist in a communal workspace. A productive office must also be arranged smartly, so that employees are in the best position they can be in at the office to do their jobs. For example, don’t situate a receptionist desk far from the phone he or she needs to answer. Alternatively, your office could offer task-specific work stations that have employees moving to different stations in a collective space that are specially designated for different tasks. When employees are moving around all day, their brain stays active and alert. It also reduces the chances of employees zoning out in front of their computers all day.

Overall, keep your office spaces comfortable and well-lit, with sufficient privacy so your employees can make the most out of the work day. Follow the advice from Forbes and Mashable to create the most productive office layout and observe the results.


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Reboot Your Work Drive: Improve Focus at Work

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Improve Focus at Work

Improve focus at work with a few simple tips

Rediscovering a passion for what you do can increase your focus at work simply because you care about what you’re doing. Often, gaining back that internal motivation is just what you and your employees need to increase concentration and job satisfaction. It isn’t easy to find meaning in your work once you’ve grown bored or “burned out,” but it isn’t impossible. Below are a few tips on how you can reboot your work drive to improve focus at work.

Identify hobbies you enjoy to balance your personal and professional life

It’s easy to get tired of work when it’s all you do. Pick one or two non-work-related things you like doing and incorporate them into your schedule to make sure you have enough time away from work. For example, you could choose to go to the gym three times a week after work and visit friends every Saturday. That way, when it’s time to get back to work on Monday you can walk into the office refreshed.

Stay away from emails the first and last hour of the day

It’s easy to wake up and immediately jump into work by checking your inbox. If you succumb to this urge and check your emails from when you wake up to when you go to sleep, you’re never unplugged from work. This can wear you down and keep you frazzled with an unending barrage of emails. Instead, use the first and last hour of your day for yourself. Take time to make yourself breakfast or do some yoga, and in the evenings let yourself read a book or spend time with family.

Keep a to-do list (in one place)

Writing a to-do list can help make your goals more tangible. You have a physical list to focus on each day, with actual tasks you can check off the list once you complete. It’s a great way to improve focus at work because it puts all your responsibilities in one place. However, make sure you keep your list in one place, or you might end up forgetting a few to-dos. For example, if you have a list of tasks in your phone, on your fridge and saved as a Word doc in your computer, it’s more likely some tasks will slip by. Having too many to-do lists also means each time you think of a new task, you have to write it down in each list.

Try a new environment

If you’re stuck in a rut, sometimes switching up your surroundings will help your focus and creativity. It’s easy for our surroundings to affect our work habits. A messy desk or noisy coworker can be distracting. If you want to refocus yourself and view your work with fresh eyes, try seeking out a new place. For example, if you work at an office ask your boss if you can take a virtual day one Friday a month to work at home or at a park.

How do you maintain your focus on work with all the distractions around you? Let us know in the comments.


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The Importance of Routines

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Daily routines help you organize your tasks efficiently to get the most done in the least amount of time. Although it may seem tedious to set a routine and stick to it (whether it’s a morning routine with toothbrushes involved or a work routine with a strict schedule), there are great benefits to sticking with a routine.

It helps productivity

“Peak productivity’s not about luck. It’s about devotion.” – Robin Sharma

Practice and repetition are keys to improving a skill or completing a project. Establish a routine that has you working on something productive for at least 30 minutes every day and you create a foundation for creativity, insights, breakthroughs and whatever else you may be working on.

It saves time

Routines are born because they are consistently the best method, or order of events, to get things done quickly and correctly. Sticking to a routine everyday, especially for the things that need to get done, will help you manage your time so you don’t waste any of it.

It eliminates decision-making

Have you noticed that making decisions gets harder as the day goes on? Turns out, the more decisions you make, the harder it is to make subsequent decisions. Willpower is like a muscle, and it’s possible to exhaust it by using it too much. Following a routine will help you save your willpower for the important decisions throughout the day, like which press release to publish versus which toothpaste to use that morning.

So now that you believe in the power of routines, how do you start one?

Setting a routine

  1. Learn to wake up early and make the most of your mornings. As Lemony Snicket says, “how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you’re going to have.” Eat a healthy breakfast, do some exercise, and reflect on what you want to accomplish during your day.
  2. Get your biggest and most daunting tasks done early. According to Kevan Lee of Buffer, you have the most willpower in the morning. By finishing as much of your serious work done early, you are freeing up the rest of your day for smaller, easier tasks. Not to mention, getting work done early is always a good thing.
  3. Avoid emails until the afternoon. Social media, emails, browsing our phone, playing games and other distracting activities that fight for our attention are best left until after you finish work. Save the “fun” activities for later in the day as a reward for accomplishing something.
  4. Allot at least 30 minutes for important things. If you’re a writer, write for at least 30 minutes a day. If your goal is to improve fitness, exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. A student? Study 30 minutes a day. You can increase this amount over time, but it’s good to start off small with a minimum of 30 minutes.

What routines do you see in your life that has helped you organize your day more efficiently? Do you have any other tips for our readers? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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How to Manage Productive Teams

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Image from “The Office”

There is no magic key to unlocking team productivity. Great team cohesiveness comes from hard work, communication, and a dedicated leader. According to the Harvard Business Review, Gallup has found good managers motivate employees with a compelling mission and vision, drive outcomes despite of adversity and resistance, “create a culture of clear accountability,” and make decisions based on “productivity, not politics.” Managers play pivotal roles in a team’s success, and below are some traits of successful leaders with productive teams.

They know their team members. Managers who know their team members’ strengths and weaknesses understand how to assign the best role for each member. Always play to a team member’s strengths, and help them improve their weaknesses. They may also have hobbies or special skills that could apply to their job.

They encourage continual growth. The best managers care about the growth of their teams, and encourage the development of strengths and management of weaknesses. Team members value managers who are concerned with their self-improvement, and teams get better as a unit as each member grows.

They keep learning. Managers are leaders, and should lead their teams to becoming better and more skilled. The continuous learning of team members is important, and a role model in the endeavor will help guide and refine the process. Managers have to be one-step ahead of their teams; if your employees are taking an intro to statistics class, you should be taking the advanced statistics class.

They think about their employees’ futures. Great managers plan for the futures of their teams as a whole, and for team members as individuals. Train your dedicated, talented employees for advancement within the company. Having a pool of skilled individuals to draw from within your company will safeguard against havoc when someone leaves unexpectedly, and creates opportunities for advancement within a company.

To summarize, in order to manage productive teams, you must understand the strengths, weaknesses, futures and potential of your team members and encourage continual learning and development.


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The Cost of Doing Too Much

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Image from Serendipity Labs

The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” refers to an individual who is versed in all trades, but an expert in none. It doesn’t just apply to careers, but everyday tasks as well. Numerous studies have shown that multitasking actually decreases productivity and the quality of work produced.

According to Wired.com, children did worse on homework when watching television, and employees were more productive when not checking email every five minutes.

“In a 2009 study, Stanford researcher Clifford Nass challenged 262 college students to complete experiments that involved switching among tasks, filtering irrelevant information, and using working memory. Nass and his colleagues expected that frequent multitaskers would outperform nonmultitaskers on at least some of these activities. They found the opposite: Chronic multitaskers were abysmal at all three tasks. The scariest part: Only one of the experiments actually involved multitasking, signaling to Nass that even when they focus on a single activity, frequent multitaskers use their brains less effectively.” – Don’t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You, TIME.com

So what should you do if you do too much?

  • Avoid emails. Studies show that the average industry professional spends 23 percent of the day emailing, according to Nass. Obsessively checking emails both wastes time and causes stress. Focus on one task for longer periods, without switching to your email inbox.
  • Do tasks in 20-minute intervals. Dedicate 20 minutes to perform a task, then switch to a different one for the next 20 minutes.
  • Give your mind a break; get away from your electronics and go for a walk, meditate, or do some yoga.

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Are Your Employees Wasting Time?

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The biggest time-wasters according to Interact Intranet Blog

Do your employees have enough work to keep them motivated and engaged throughout the day, or are they saddled with busy-work to fill a 40-hour workweek?

According to David Cain of Raptitude.com, “the average office worker gets less than three hours of work done in 8 hours.” That means, with the advances in technology and innovation, efficient, motivated workers can get their work done within a 15-hour workweek. So, what are employees doing with the rest of their time?

Profiles International says that 43 percent of employees waste time by chatting with their coworkers, 28 percent surf the web, and 12 percent either text, take personal calls, or use social media. Employees slack off due to lack of incentive, job dissatisfaction, or boredom. Almost 50 percent of employees waste time on Fridays, with 3 to 5 p.m. being the most common window of time for employees to stray. Common workplace occurrences can also be distractions for employees. Nineteen percent of employees in a survey reported too many meetings being a distraction, with 17 percent reporting inefficient team members, and 17 percent reporting coworkers as major distractions.

Cut down on wasted time in the office by keeping employees engaged and dedicated to their jobs. Provide interesting work and help employees understand the bigger picture so they can invest in their roles. Employers can also offer performance incentives, and should use proven assessments to retain high-potential employees instead of distracting employees. Consider maintaining a flexible office schedule to take advantage of each employee’s peak productivity time and maintain a healthy office balance between fun and work.


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Sleep Your Way to the Top

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By Yvonne Manzi
Guest Writer, University of London

In this short and quirky TED talk, Arianna Huffington attacks the trending culture of sleep deprivation as a way of being more productive and reaching success. We should, she says “literally sleep our way to the top”, because a sleep deprived person is not a productive person. Being terribly busy and fitting an unthinkable number of activities within a day may give us a feeling of accomplishment and productivity, but in the long run will drain us of energy, pace and creativity – all traits that are key to the successful individual.

Can’t sleep well? Here are a few simple tips to help you get those extra Z’s at night.

1. Keep regular hours so you can have a set body clock
2. Create a restful and pleasant sleeping environment
3. Exercise regularly (but not before bedtime!)
4. Make sure your bed is clean and comfortable (keep it tidy)
5. Tone down the caffeine – even if you drink it in the morning, it upsets your natural balance
6. Don’t overindulge in caffine, smoke, food or alcohol
7. Write away your worries – keep a journal so you don’t mull everything over before bedtime

…and if all else fails, don’t drink liters of coffee but learn to nap! A 20 minute nap can completely revive you.

So take it from Arianna, “the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting more sleep.”

See the TED talk here: How to Succeed? Get more sleep.


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