This is probably not the first “Boost Productivity” post you’ve ever read, and it probably won’t be the last. After all, nearly everyone in working America benefits from finding the perfect tip or trick to get into their sweet spot with workflow, so nearly everyone with a blog has at least considered writing a list like this.
That’s why the first source we looked into for this list was the internet. Unfortunately, it became quickly apparent that not all productivity lists are created equal. Some of the tips are just not reasonable for your average worker. How many people are REALLY going to get up from their desk and do ten pushups every few hours? Do you warn the person next to you before you start, or just launch right into it and try not to make eye contact? Or even taking a long walk outside to break up the work day; this makes sense for some, but for others (like those of us here at GIS | HireRight) located in the deep south where the temperature hovers between sweltering and inside-the-mouth-of-Mount-Vesuvius six months out of the year, the risk of heatstroke just isn’t worth the potential boost in focus.
With that in mind, we decided instead to ask the most relatable people we could find for tips: our coworkers. Below are some of OUR favorite tips and tricks to boost workplace productivity, as tested by your everyday average person. And not a one of them involves desk-side cardio.
- Lists, lists, lists! You’ve see this tip before, and there’s a reason. It just works, and several of our folks mentioned this. By making detailed plans for what you need to accomplish in a day, a week, a month, or even more, you can keep track of your progress and foster a sense of momentum. One of our employees suggests taking this even further and breaking down each task into smaller lists that you check off each time you complete them, allowing for a sense of progress on even the smallest of levels. Forward-trajectory is key!
- Listen to music. This can be particularly helpful if you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time. By having background music, you can occupy the background of your mind and, as counterintuitive as it may sound, keep yourself from being distracted. One employee specifically suggested listening to movie scores, as they are composed in such a way to avoid distracting the listener from their main point of focus (the film or, in this case, your work).
- Prioritize, and don’t be afraid to RE-prioritize throughout the day. We all know that if we don’t prioritize things, we risk consequences like missed deadlines or rushed work. However, as one of our employees notes, once you have your work prioritized, you need to prepare to have that plan completely changed at a moment’s notice. Understand and make room for unexpected challenges and surprise projects, and don’t stress when that means restructuring your day. By opening yourself to flexibility (and prepping for surprises), you’ll be able to tackle any hurdle that comes your way.
- Reward yourself in small ways for meeting productivity goals. You’ve made your list. You’ve checked it twice. You’ve prepared for any possible surprises and you’ve got the soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back set on repeat on Spotify. What now? Try setting up small achievement goals throughout the day and rewarding yourself with things like healthy snacks or ten minute breaks. This gives you a payoff for your work, and gives you something to strive for throughout the day.
- Track your daily progress and compete with yourself the next day. A lot of us thrive with a little friendly competition, and what better way to motivate yourself than to compete against yourself? If you managed to complete ten tasks the day before, try implementing a few of these tips and shoot for 11 the next day.
- Take your lunch break and any breaks you are allowed to recharge and reset. This one’s simple. Value your own down-time, and make sure you prioritize it appropriately. Without breaks to eat, rest, and refocus, you may allow stress to pile up. And more anything else, stress is really the biggest killer of productivity.
- If you feel bogged down with a big task, switch to completing several smaller tasks firsts. This links back to the stress bit from earlier. Don’t ram your head against a brick wall if you don’t feel like you’re making any progress or you’ll just burn yourself out more quickly. Instead, switch gears for about half an hour and complete smaller, less intensive tasks. This will get you back into feeling like you’re moving forward, and in a better frame of mind to jump back on the big stuff.
- Make time to learn something new. No matter how productive you are, if you’re doing the same thing day in and day out, you’re going to hit burnout. Make an effort to put aside an hour a week, month, quarter – how ever often you can swing it – to learn something new. Job-shadow another department, take an online course, sit down and interview someone from another field. If you keep your mind active and taking in new information, reduce how often you get bored at work (or at least increase your tolerance for boredom).
- Make sure your workspace is comfortable and suits your needs. This one comes from one of our remote employees, but the advice works for everyone. Make sure all of your resources are in one place. Phone, documents, computer, comfortable chair and pillows, snacks, coffee, everything should be in a place where you don’t have to take your mind away from your work JUST to get your hands on something you need. She also suggests keeping a few personal items around that make you smile.
- Alright, this last one I found online and decided to keep it. Keep trying new tricks! Try something for about a week, giving it a real, enthusiastic effort. If it doesn’t work, try something else! Even if does work, try adding in something else as well! Everyone is different, and if something doesn’t work, move on to the next tick. As we said earlier, there are so many lists like this one, and while we like this one best, you should look until you find your perfect fit.
*GIS | HireRight’s Blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Any statutes or laws cited in this article should be read in their entirety. If you or your customers have questions concerning compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations, we suggest that you address these directly with your legal department or outside counsel.