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8 Clever Ways to Level up Productivity in Your Office

8 Clever Ways to Level up Productivity in Your Office

With so many distractions, it’s not a mystery why we’re not getting any work done. It’s more than easy to get seduced by the internet (naughty little devil) and forget all about your tasks, just because you found something interesting and went down the information rabbit hole.

My office is quite dynamic and there’s always something interesting (or dramatic, possibly) going on and it can be really hard to for me to maintain my focus and stay productive throughout the whole day. Once I realized I’m not getting any work done, I decided to do some experimenting of my own and see what works for me.

1. Help!

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    Don’t hesitate from reaching out. If you’re anything like me, you’re capable of spending hours trying to learn how to do a bit of work that the rest of your task depends on without asking for advice. Being stubborn, or persistent as I like to call it, can be good on occasion, but not in this particular one.

    The chances are at least one of your colleagues had experience with a problem you’re trying to deal with, and if they don’t seem to be able to help you figure it out they can point you in the right direction and give you a base to work on. Swallow your unreasonable pride and communicate with your office – that’s what the teamwork is all about.

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    2. Getting Nowhere? Move on

    Creative jobs can be particularly troubling, especially on those gray days when you can’t find anything to be inspired by. If you continue to bang your head over one single problem for a while, it will create even more obstacles for you to solve.

    Frustrations like this make the whole thing worse – you end up doubting your skills. In order to avoid this blockade, you should simply move on to the next task unrelated to the problematic one if possible. This way, you’ll give your mind enough time to work without you pressuring it to come up with a solution and you’ll get there in time.

    3. Be a Busy Bee

    The very moment you catch yourself doing nothing productive, find something to do – anything that can benefit your overall performance. Procrastination is one deep abyss and you shouldn’t allow yourself to get anywhere near it because it’s really hard to get out of it.

    Therefore, don’t lose time on meetings that are irrelevant to your area of business, make sure you’re keeping up with your schedule and keep track of time – and this is very important – because it can get away from you without you even realizing before it’s too late.

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    4. Listen to Your Body

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      Let’s be honest – you can’t expect your mind to be capable if your body is yelling for nutrients – this is one snooze button you shouldn’t press (this is quite ironic coming from me because I really enjoy my beauty sleep).

      Many people are prone to energizing drinks and junk food because they believe it’s a way to intake a lot of energy for a short period of time. This isn’t healthy, which is why it’s not a solution. Traditional wake-up drinks like coffee work just fine for me, although there was a time when I had to cut back for a bit because I was exaggerating, to be frank.

      If calories are your concern here, you should read up on the subject – the numbers are fairly insignificant and you shouldn’t be bothered by them at all.

      5. Move Those Muscles

      A great way to make your mind work a bit faster is to move your body. Simple exercises like squats will get your blood going faster and help your mind become significantly more productive. The secretion of happy hormones that your glands produce while you workout will make your body more healthy and yourself more useful, and you don’t have to do them for everyone to see – a bathroom or lunch break will do here.

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      6. Challenge Your Mind

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        I already mentioned how troubling lack of inspiration can be, and if you don’t seem to be able to start your engine in the morning, you shouldn’t consider the whole day lost. What you should do is take the matter into your own capable hands and light up your brain with an intellectual challenge such as Sudoku or a quick mind puzzle. There’s a bunch of these games online and you’ll be able to find the one that works great for you.

        7. Don’t Go Nowhere Near Social Networks

        Entering Facebook just to check something that won’t take more than a minute or two is one nasty lie you tell yourself and you know it. It won’t take less than fifteen minutes and that’s the best version – we all know how easy it is to get distracted, so this is a huge no-no.

        It’s not just Facebook but other social platforms as well, so my sincere suggestion is to steer clear of them. Check your messages (email included) while you’re taking a break; this way you won’t miss anything and you’ll stay disciplined simultaneously.

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        8. Aesthetics is Helpful

        Instead of looking at a blank wall in front of you every time you have a blockade of any type, you should do something nice for yourself and decorate your desk with something you like – a family photo, a nice plant, a dear ornament, or something that’s just pretty to look at. Your office and aesthetics around you have a major impact on your performance and you should do something about it.

        The best thing for your productivity would be to try each of these eight things I have listed so you can test them all in order to find the one (or a couple of them) which works best for you. Professional stagnation will eventually lead to you going backward and this isn’t something you should make room for in your career – the sooner you deal with it, the sooner you will keep moving forward.

        Featured photo credit: great-action.com via great-action.com

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        Published on November 18, 2019

        How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

        How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

        Critical thinking is the art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action. It can be learned through powerful techniques listed in this article.

        Before you read further, it is important for you to know that critical thinking is a state of mind, not a tool or strategy.

        If you are bogged down in the trivial day to day matters of your professional and personal life, learning skills to develop your ability to think critically can help you rise above these issues and focus your energies where they are needed – to solve problems and accomplish objectives.

        It stands to reason that the better the learning techniques, the better critical thinking and reasoning will be. My experience in helping people grow means I know exactly what is needed to teach critical thinking (hint: it’s not just pondering over the problem).

        There are 5 powerful techniques that form the base of critical thinking:

        1. Analytical thinking
        2. Communication
        3. Creativity
        4. Open-mindedness
        5. Problem-solving

        Once you learn the techniques listed and start employing them in your daily life, you’ll quickly start to notice a change in the way you approach problems and consequently, how you resolve them too.

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        1. Analytical Thinking

        Analytical thinking is the gathering and breaking down of information into small bites that help make sense of it.

        To use it for critical thinking:

        • Be very clear on why you need the information. This is to recognize your limitations and employ foresight to overcome them.
        • Gather information from as many sources as you can: peers and experts, podcasts, relevant literature and any other place you can think of.
        • Rephrase questions multiple times to get different perspectives on data available and possibly arrive at different solutions.
        • Break down the data into factual subsets and relate each to the issue at hand.
        • Think on paper to make new connections. Write, doodle, make mind-maps or use spreadsheets. Data presented visually can help you make new connections make sense of emerging patterns.
        • Tidy up the workplace. Once data has been gathered, your workspace and your brain will both be cluttered with excess information. Neaten the physical space and clear your mind with meditation. The change in focus will help you view the information in a new light, potentially helping you reach newer, better conclusions.

        Want more information and tips on adopting this powerful technique? What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success has all the information you need.

        2. Communication

        Communication is a key technique for critical thinking as it gives you access to the thoughts of people around you.

        Data can be communicated through audio and visual means and in many cases, through careful observation of body language:

        • Ask for different points of view and seek justification for the same thing. When you invest in the matter, you will be able to explore all options to reach the best solution.
        • Listening without interrupting and only asking questions or voicing concerns once the speaker is done helps you make better connections.
        • Be 100% focused on a verbal or written discussion, you can better hear/read the opinions of the people involved.
        • Paraphrase the speaker/writer’s point of view and ask for affirmation. This enables you to pay full attention and use the input to think critically.
        • In a meeting, subtle communication cues are given by the body language of fellow attendees. An imperceptible frown, a small nod, pencil tapping etc. will all give you clues to what they are really thinking, just in case their actions are not in sync with their words!
        • Active observation, where you are watching and listening intently helps you know what to make of the information that is being passed around. It gives you clues to the general opinion about the topic under discussion and opens up new possibilities.

        The information you gather through such communication will be invaluable in thinking critically to arrive at a decision that is holistic and unbiased.

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        3. Creativity

        Critical thinking is an art, and like any art form, its lifeblood is creativity. To really learn critical thinking, you need to include elements of creativity in the process!

        • Brainstorm with your team in an all-new location or work-shadow an industry expert to step out of your comfort zone. You could be surprised by the ideas that flow at a picnic or a game of billiards!
        • Gather data and tabulate it in the form of colorful, eye-catching charts, graphs and mind maps. The simple exercise makes your mind bring data together in different ways and presents them so multiple unique conclusions can be reached, giving you the flexibility to choose the best one.
        • Play brain games such as Sudoku or chess to appreciate how different factors can be manipulated to reach a preferred outcome. These games help make connections between previously disconnected nerves, giving your brain the power to find multiple pathways to answering problems.
        • In a similar vein, you can forge new neural connections by learning a new skill, a new language or even a new recipe!

        I break down creativity in my other article What is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It. If you want to be good at critical thinking, you need to adopt creativity!

        4. Open-Mindedness

        It’s easy to say you’re open minded but is your mind really open?

        To get an idea,

        • Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact the matter at hand.
        • Hear an opinion that conflicts with your own without forming a response before the opinion is fully voiced.
        • Acknowledge that there may be more than one approach to solving a problem and that they may all be right in some way.
        • Consider your true feelings when you will implement any required changes.
        • Disregard your long-held beliefs and assumptions and let go of habits.
        • Imagine the decision-making factors placed on weighing scales. Are they balanced?

        Open-mindedness is a powerful technique for critical thinking. New possibilities can be uncovered, helping you resolve personal and professional matters in a manner that doesn’t frustrate you or alienate the other party.

        5. Problem-Solving

        Critical thinking is heavily dependent on problem-solving. An effective critical thinker will be a problem solver with the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and negative outcomes, and the experience and presence of mind to resolve them quickly and move on.

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        One of the most effective problem-solving methodologies is the 5 Whys Analysis. Invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motors in the 1950s, it has been used successfully by the automobile giant to get to the root cause of problems.

        The idea behind this is simple: start with the end problem and keep asking why until you get to the root cause of it.

        The general idea is that asking why 5 times from the effect is enough to get to the cause, hence the name. However, the methodology does not limit the questions to 5, and why can be asked as many times as need to peel away the layers until a satisfactory answer is reached.

        To use the 5 Whys Analysis, start off by listing the problem and writing why in front of it. The next point in the list should be answer to the first why with another why in front of it. Continue answering the question asked above followed by a why until you’ve asked the question 5 times and answered it six times. 99% of the time, the last answer will be the root cause of the problem stated in the first point.

        For example, consider the a commonly given scenario where a vehicle does not start.

        1. Vehicle will not start. Why?
        2. Battery is dead. Why?
        3. The alternator is not functioning. Why?
        4. The alternator belt has broken. Why?
        5. It was old and worn out. Why?
        6. The car is not maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

        By this example, it is clearly demonstrated that 5 whys were asked to reach the root cause of the problem.

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        The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

        Over the years, the 5 Whys Analysis has been adopted by millions to reach the root cause of their personal and professional problems. Industry giant Six Sigma has also incorporated the 5x Why Analysis in the Analyze phase of their DMAIC methodology.[1]

        Final Thoughts

        Is critical thinking a new-fangled notion? Not at all. Its history can be traced back to Socrates who questioned commonly held beliefs. This practice was carried forward by leading scholars and thinkers from different times such as Aristotle and Plato, Colet and Moore, Descartes, Galileo and Newton.[2]

        Today’s world is dependent on critical thinking to resolve all sorts of issues. It is now indispensable for issues ranging from personal relationships to professional jobs and those involving the global community.

        The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly, they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

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        Featured photo credit: Mariya Pampova via unsplash.com

        Reference

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