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10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity at the Office

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10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity at the Office

You stagger into the office five minutes before your are suppose to start, you have a coffee in your hand. You do like your job, but it is hard to hit the floor peppy and productive every single day. It feels even harder when you find yourself sitting for so long at one time. That is the nature of the job, but how can you change things up a little to create an environment that is more productive and more enjoyable?

Here are ten strategies that can set the tone and keep you motivated to be productive:

1. Plan

Get to your desk about 15 minutes early and write out a daily list of tasks and plan out your day before it begins. This will help to keep you focused and on track throughout the day. Set out your top three most important tasks to do first.

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2. Power hour

Commit! Dedicate the first hour to getting as much done as you can. Avoid your email inbox, favorite blogs, and voicemails, and get right to work. This sets the tone for the day and gives you a great sense of accomplishment that can follow you through to home time.

3. Recess

When we were kids we probably loved recess more than school, but our teacher knew that we needed small breaks to help us learn better. The same is true for working. Allocating specific time periods when it’s okay to become distracted can help make the rest of your day more productive. Just keep them short and then get back to it.

4. Time chunking

By shifting your focus between tedious and repetitive tasks and those that are more engaging, you can keep yourself more happily involved in your work throughout the day. Give each task category a time frame and alternate back and forth between them for best results.

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5. Rock the clock

Rather than working on a project until it’s completed, resolve to work on a project for a set period of time, then change your focus. This will keep you productive and eliminate some of the tedium associated with working on the same project for long periods of time.

6. Organize your email

You can increase sanity by keeping your inbox organized, especially if you get a lot of correspondence on a daily basis. Use folders and filters to keep your email inbox organized and it will be as beneficial as having a tidy desk or cubicle. I personally like to strive for Inbox Zero: daily is great, but definitely by Friday afternoon.

7. Listen to music

Music can help you settle into your work routine. Low-volume music can drown out noises in the office without interrupting other people around you. Choose music that helps you focus without distracting you. It has been shown that while listening to Classical music your IQ actually increases—you might want to give it a try!

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8. Drink up

Hydration is important for a variety of health reasons. Fill up a personal water bottle and keep it with you all day. Keeping a water bottle by your side will prevent you from having to get up over and over to get more water and ensures that you stay hydrated throughout the day. I love to use a 1 liter bottle, and drink one before lunch and one after lunch.

9. Leave your desk for lunch

Having a lunch break away from your desk can disrupt your productivity routine, but it does provide some much-needed relaxation and respite from your work. Enjoy your lunch break and return to your work with renewed energy and focus. Exercising during lunch, even if it is just a quick walk around the park, will also help to keep your energy up.

10. Keep it professional

Respond to personal emails and deal with personal phone calls on your own time. By clearly separating work and home, you can focus yourself better during the day to get more done. If you have important personal tasks that need to be done, use your break or lunch, but walk away from your desk.

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Hit your stride

You can stay productive during work hours if you plan out your day and really think about what you’re doing at work. It doesn’t take much forethought to have a good workday, but the time you put into planning can pay off big time!

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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