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improve productivity

Small Things That Can Improve Productivity

We all want to be as productive as possible, right? Reasons might vary; maybe it’s a deadline getting closer, or you just want to finish things faster so you can enjoy some time for yourself. To improve productivity is something we all desire at a certain point and your boss wants it too for sure.

Being productive sounds like the best career skill ever, since it’s on everyone’s lips. 

There are endless discussions and apps about productivity and I know I had to learn it the hard way. I was usually finding myself in critical periods of time when I was supposed to do a lot of things and I discovered those were the most productive periods for me. I have to admit, that I have the tendency to leave everything until the last minute, but who doesn’t love some adrenaline?! Plus, sometimes I’m extremely lazy.

What productivity means to you?

There are endless debates what being productive means. The Oxford English Dictionary defines productivity as “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input”. So, in less fancy words, a standard definition of productivity would be how many things you manage to accomplish in a certain time frame.

Depending on your day to day job, productivity might look different. If you work in a factory, screwing 3000 screws per hour might be productive, while if you’re a writer writing only 1000 words per hour might be unproductive. 

Decide what productive means to you. Is it having your boss telling you you were productive, is it ticking everything on your to-do list for the day? Will it be considered an unproductive day if you don’t accomplish everything, but did the other things excellent? Have the general lines drawn so you can set realistic expectations about your productivity levels.

Small Things That Can Improve Productivity

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Now that you decided how productivity should looks like for you, there’s some small things you can to do help you improve and stick to it.

Clean Your Working Space

While a certain environment can’t create something that is not there, according to a new study about cluttering, having a messy working space can affect productivity. This can vary from people to people and it also does for me as well. I have times when I can’t do anything creative-related if the room is not tidy, or sometimes I really don’t care at all, I’m just focused at my job.

Test to see which one works best for you.

Isolate the Background Noise

Busy cafe, crafty neighbors, loud working colleagues, you name it. Background noises can be a huge distraction.

If the background noises interrupt your work, try to isolate them as much as possible:

  • listen to music and use a good pair of headphones that isolate the outside noise
  • close the windows or the doors
  • go to a separate area where there isn’t that much noise

Last, but not least you can totally pay your moron neighbor a visit. 

Prevent Any Temptations

I’m a huge tea drinker and also a snacker. So, I’ll always find the perfect excuse for some tea time or a quick snack.

Have your favourite snacks and drinks on hand. Prevent any “oh, I need 15 minutes to decide which tea to drink” situations. It might not sound that bad since it’s such an innocent excuse, but it can turn into a monster. I had 3 mugs of tea this morning, just because I was lazy to do other things.

The Old To Do List

The oldie, but goldie hack: the to-do list. 

It might sound so obvious, but if I wrote something down in my planner, I have to complete it. That piece of paper has that much power over me. And I like it.

improve productivity

Writing things down will also free your mind. You don’t have to remember every single thing, because it’s already on the paper so you can fully focus on one task at a time. About that…

Avoid Multitasking

I’ve always said it and I will always say it: multitasking does not exist, people! You can’t do multiple things at the same productivity level and quality as you’d do if you were doing one thing at the time. Also, you can’t do multiple things at one – you are switching between them. So a better term would be switchtasking instead of multitasking.

For me, switch-tasking is very, VERY unproductive. It makes me feel anxious and in the end I’m not contempt with any of the multiple things I though I was mastering like a boss. 

So don’t put that pressure on yourself. Take it one thing at the time, no one has to know. 

Take Breaks

One of the best known productivity techniques – Pomodoro – involves often breaks. Pomodoro uses 25 minutes time slots when you have to focus on your task, followed by a 5-10 minutes break.

Depending on your job and working environment this could be possible or not. BUT the principle should be the same. Try to have breaks every now and then to boost your mood. Also, very important: don’t talk or think about work during your breaks:

  • scroll through social media
  • have a walk around the neighborhood 
  • call a friend for a quick check-up call
  • listen to a podcast or to your latest song-obsession

At the end of the day, all that matters is that you are contempt with your work and you are happy with yourself. 

What small things do you use to stay productive? Let me know in the comments!

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