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5 Fun Ways to Increase Your Productivity

5 Fun Ways to Increase Your Productivity

A lot of us look for ways to improve and better ourselves around the start of a new year. What better time to turn a blank page and start fresh? At the same time, I think we’re sort of always looking for good productivity tips, no matter what time of year it is. Everyone could always be more productive, right? We all have long to-do lists and, if possible, we want to get more things done in a shorter amount of time.

Admittedly, I’ve tried a lot of productivity tips and they always work for a while but then they get sort of boring and I stop doing them. Let’s face it, you’re less likely to stick with new habits if they aren’t something to enjoy. So, combining productivity and fun is the perfect solution for making productivity tips stick with you. Read on for five fun ways to increase your productivity:

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1. Make things a friendly competition.

Whether you’re trying to be productive at work or at home, making things into a competition can do a lot to rev up productivity in a fun and interesting way. If you’re with coworkers, challenge them to a contest. Who can type something up the fastest? Who can sell more of something? Who can clear out their inbox the fastest? Then have a “prize” for the winner – lunch on you or them, maybe?

You can also do this if you work by yourself. Challenge yourself to complete something and then offer yourself a reward. Studies show that people are more motivated if they have an incentive for completing a goal.[1] Rewarding yourself gives you something tangible to work toward and it offers an instant gratification that makes you want to push yourself and hold yourself accountable at the same time.

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2. Take more breaks.

Breaks are shown to make people more productive, especially if they’re feeling unmotivated or burnt out by their work tasks. If you’re a workaholic, it might be tempting to skip that 30 minute lunch break, but breaks are crucial. A break allows you to unwind, recharge, and go back to your work with a whole new sense of drive and focus.

So, take regular breaks and spend your time doing things that you enjoy. Spending your break doing your favorite hobbies has been shown to allow you to relieve your stress and increase your creativity.

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3. Spend some time outside.

Whether you’re feeling tense, unfocused, unmotivated, or completely stressed out, nature can help with that! Nature has been proven to have many benefits. Plus, it’s beautiful and calming. Fresh air can help you clear your mind and breathe easier when you’re stressed. Trees can also improve concentration and alleviate mental fatigue.

Go outside to eat your lunch, or spend your break going for a walk. If you live in a city and don’t have easy access to trees, get a lot of plants for your office! If you work from home, having green plants around you can offer the same benefits.

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4. Do something that makes you laugh.

Laughter is a wonderful thing. It can boost your heart rate up and increase the blood flow to your brain. Not only that, but you’ll just plain feel happier! You could spend this time looking at cute baby animal videos because, yes, studies have also shown that doing so will improve your focus.

Allow yourself a regular “laugh break” during your day! This will keep you motivated because it will give you something to look forward to as well!

5. Listen to music (that you love).

Do you have a favorite song that, when you listen to it, you can’t help but dance to? I think we all have one of those! And when you listen to it, you may notice that you’re able to focus better, have more energy, and feel way more motivated to get things done.

So if you feel unproductive, just play your favorite music. Not only will this give you an energy boost, but it will also help block out distractions so that you can stay focused. That’s why a lot of offices play music in the workplace!

Reference

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, it’s time to do something about it.

Here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm, leaving you calmer, in control, and a lot less stressed at work.

1. Write Everything Down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when work feels overwhelming is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s occupying your thoughts[1].

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind, write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind.”

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will help you stop feeling overwhelmed at work. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have emptied your head, go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. You can learn how to create a more meaningful to-do list here.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago to help when work feels overwhelming. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and we humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take[2]:

When feeling overwhelmed at work, use Parkinson's Law.

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad. It’s more wishful thinking than bad judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage when we’re feeling overwhelmed at work. If you have estimated that to write five important emails will take ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is that you put yourself under a little time pressure, and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time, so it plays tricks on us, and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our team members to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening, and we get more focused and more work done. This will help when work feels overwhelming.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos to avoid getting overwhelmed at work. Schedule time for each task, especially high priority tasks, while also grouping together similar tasks. This will help relieve stress and anxiety in your daily work life.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done, and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer, and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one[3]. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend, or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss or a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away and will only make you feel more overwhelmed at work. You need to make a decision to deal with it, and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved.

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed, and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend about the problem.

    He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem, and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I pay a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first was: don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second: there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we are feeling overwhelmed at work (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

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    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

    It also means that, rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible, and you can make decisions about what to do about them.

    Often, it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be that you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    When work feels overwhelming, it’s not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work. It can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    It’s easy to feel like you have too much on your plate, but there are things you do to make it more manageable. 

    Make a decision, even if it’s just talking to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution.

    When you follow these strategies, you can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

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