Working hard or hardly working? The only productivity tips you’ll ever need

Just settled back into work and already finding it difficult to stay on task? You’re not the only one.

Whether it’s distractions, procrastination or fatigue or a combination of all three, it’s easy to fall into a productivity slump early in the year. That’s why we’re sharing our top 8 tips for staying motivated and efficient at work.

1. Eat the frog

If you haven’t heard this idiom before, it simply means to tackle the task you least want to do first thing in the day.

Why? There are two reasons.

First, many people concentrate better in the morning. So mentally, you’ll be better positioned to get that dreaded task out of the way.

And second, you’ll also start your day with a smile – thanks to that splendid sense of accomplishment that you’ve ticked off something worthwhile… all before your morning coffee.

But how do you determine your loathsome frog?

It’s about reflecting on your to-do list and identifying the task you don’t want to do, but need to do.

This will be the frog you’ve been putting off. The frog you need to swallow when work begins.

2. Put it on paper – and prioritise

We all know the value of writing a to-do list.

But are you organising your tasks in terms of mental load and urgency?

If not, try placing the most pressing tasks at the top of your list – or those that require the most mental energy.

Then, leave those lower order cognitive tasks to the end of the list. That might be responding to emails, paying bills, filling out forms or responding to general requests on Slack.

Structuring your day this way will optimise efficiency and keep you productive until the end of your work day.

3. Set small, specific and quantifiable goals

We tend to stay motivated and remain productive when we feel like we’re achieving things.

That’s why a little secret to productivity is to set small, attainable goals. This way, you’ll feel like you’re ticking things off – left, right and centre.

That might mean reviewing one page of a report instead of making the task to work on the whole report.

It’s also important that your goals are specific and quantifiable. For example, tasking yourself to make 10 phone calls or respond to 20 emails – rather than ‘make phone calls’ or ‘respond to emails’.

4. Stop multitasking

Are you a multitasking master? Yeah, right.

While many of us think we’re talented at juggling multiple things at once, multitasking is really a myth.

And there’s science to support it. Neuroscience research shows us that the brain doesn’t really perform several tasks simultaneously; it just switches between tasks.

This stop/start process in the brain is extremely inefficient – costing you time and making you more prone to mistakes. Over the day, it can also exhaust you.

So forget any magical multitasking powers you think you might have. And instead, be deliberate about the work you intend to focus on for that period of time.

5. Cut the distractions

Distractions. Sometimes, it can feel like they’re everywhere.

And they won’t go anywhere – unless you’re proactive and communicate your expectations.

The best place to start is your phone. Turn off your social media notifications during work hours, as well as those annoying push notifications from apps.

If you really need to knuckle down for an hour or two, you can also turn on Airplane Mode. This might seem anxiety inducing for some. But don’t fret; you can exempt specific numbers, such as your loved ones or important business contacts.

Working from home? Make sure you set clear expectations with your family members or housemates. This might include no loud noise or music from 9am-5pm, as well as the times you are available to chat.

Better yet, invest in a distraction-free workspace like a home-office pod. This is the best way to separate your work and home life, by setting clear physical boundaries on when you can and cannot be disturbed.

6. Block out periods of deep work

You might have heard of the term ‘deep work’.

It means fully concentrating on one task for a prolonged amount of time – without distractions. Ideally, you should complete more difficult and mentally stimulating work during this time.

Practising deep work is essential to achieving your peak performance.

But how do you do it?

Start by imposing time limits and deadlines on your tasks. For example, blocking out 90 minutes with the goal that you will complete one thing by the end.

You should also view your weekly calendar – considering deep work. And ask yourself: how and when will you incorporate it on a weekly basis? Perhaps it’s scheduling in deep work every Monday and Wednesday morning?

That means being intentional about your time and weekly objectives.

7. Take small breaks

Slogging away at a piece of work for hours but feeling too guilty to step away from your computer screen?

For the love of your sanity and productivity, take a break!

This might come as a surprise. But it’s actually better to take small breaks, rather than chipping away at something continuously for hours on end.

So, yes, there is actually productive value in going for that morning coffee stroll. Or taking a break for a brief 10-minute walk. It’ll break up your day – and keep your mind feeling sharp.

Just make sure you’re intentional about when you take breaks. This means not taking them during periods of deep work (obviously!).

8. Find the right space

Did you know: your work environment impacts your health, wellbeing and performance?

That’s why it’s essential to ensure your workspace is tidy, well-lit and comfortable. Because it’s no surprise that a cluttered space creates a cluttered mind.

Plus, as more and more of us stay working from home, you’ve probably realised even more the importance of a positive workspace that inspires productivity.

If you’re still searching for that perfect WFH solution, a Harwyn pod is the answer. Architecturally designed and Australian-made, a Harwyn pod is a truly enticing workspace that encourages productivity and deep work. And best of all, they’re built to last a lifetime. If you’d like to learn more, call 1300 HARWYN (1300 427 996) or send an enquiry now.