Striving to increase your productivity at work and conquer your growing to-do list? You’re not alone. Emails, Slack messages, texts, calls, meetings, deadlines, and calendars to coordinate. The average worker uses 13 hours a week on emails alone, which adds up to almost 30% of the workweek. Research from the American Psychological Association lists work as the second highest cause of stress for Americans, coming in ahead of both health and family concerns.
With many distractions and tasks on our plates each day, it can seem impossible to tackle them all. Luckily, there are tips and tools available to help you boost productivity and maintain balance at work.
This seems simple, but it can have a huge impact when implemented. Clutter around us competes for our attention, which affects our ability to focus and process information, and can even increase stress – making it one of the ultimate roadblocks impacting focus and productivity. Much of the clutter we experience in the office is simply paper and files. Scanners and apps, including the ScanSnap iX Series, can quickly convert paper copies to high-quality digital files on its own, sans computer. These devices also feature sorting capabilities allow you to save directly to Evernote, Google Drive, Google Photos and Box to create a digital filing system, which eliminates chances of losing or misfiling important documents. The Fujitsu ScanSnap also has built in features like OCR (optical character recognition) that allow you to add keywords and create searchable files.
Write down each task, deadline and meeting down immediately, and never assume you’ll remember without doing so. Free apps like Evernote and Wunderlist can also help you create a digital to-do list synced between your devices with phone, wearable, tablet and desktop applications. It allows users to collaborate with others on a team, set reminders and organize personal and work tasks in one place.
Block time for deep work
Avoid multitasking and allow yourself time to focus on one project at a time. According to a report by the University Of London, research showed those who multitasked while trying to complete tasks actually exhibited a noticeable drop in their IQs. Try an app that allows you to “pause” your inbox or vow not to check email until you’ve completed a task. Many successful people report only checking email two or three times daily.
Disable pop-up notifications on your phone and desktop so you can focus on the task at hand, instead of spending valuable time trying to re-focus following an interruption. Schedule everything on your calendar, instead of only meetings. Block time to complete a project, check and respond to emails, conduct research, or anything else your job requires. If your team is prone to overscheduling meetings, a slot that appears to be open could get filled quickly, even if you’d planned to use that time for another task.
One of the best things you can do to increase your productivity at work is to actually take a break from work. No time for a coffee or full lunch break? Suggest a walking meeting instead of your regular check-in with your manager. Get up every thirty minutes, even if you just grab water or a snack. Not only does this give your mind and eyes a quick screen time break, it’s also good for your posture and physiological health.
Build time in your day to take a fun break. Instead of getting distracted throughout the day by social media, set time at lunch to check personal email and your Instagram feed. Even better, do something non work-related that engages your brain. Apps like Hangtime allow you to work your trivia chops and connect with friends simultaneously. Want to learn a new language? Tools like DuoLingo offer short periods of interactive, educational content to help you learn any one of the thirty languages offered, completely free.