7 ways to Increase Productivity

There are times when we find ourselves in a slump and our productivity is low - especially on Monday mornings.  Sometimes our concentration wanes because we’re doing a tedious task or maybe we’re tired and just find ourselves daydreaming about a week-long nap.  When you find yourself with low throughput, here are some tips to help you get back into the game.

1.)    Track your productivity levels.  Keep a record of how efficient you feel during your day.  After a week, come back and look at your log.  If you notice a pattern where your productivity levels are low at certain times of the day, take breaks during those times and come back to work once you’ve regained energy and can work better.  If you can’t take breaks during those times, save them for the tasks you enjoy doing most to help make your slow periods more effective.

2.)    Focus on what you do know.  A lot of us have difficulty pushing through a task or even getting started if we’re not clear on what we’re doing or how we’re going to do it.  To remedy this, break your tasks down into smaller chunks and focus on what you do know.  You know the order you need to do things.  You probably know the first couple of steps you need to take.  You know who to ask for where to look for assistance with the pieces you’re not sure of.  You don’t always have to know what to do – you just need to know where to look or who to ask to accomplish your task.

3.)    Clean your work space.  There are many benefits to cleaning off your desk in addition to being able to find your pens.  Many articles mention increased efficiency and increased focus as some of the benefits.  Take a few minutes to clean and organize it, but maybe wait until your project is underway.  A Psychological Science study reports that having a less-than-tidy work space at the start of your project can encourage creative thinking and help you generate new ideas.

4.)    Move.  I’m talking about your body and your workspace.  Everyone knows how great exercise is for you.  But did you know that just changing your working environment can help you concentrate?  It depends on where you go, of course, but studies have shown that the ambient buzz of a coffee shop makes people more productive.  When it’s nice, go outside and work.  Fresh air has been proven to increase efficiency (as well as decrease illness).

5.)    Play different music.  Playing fast (and loud) music wakes you up, but playing unfamiliar music actually increases focus.  Listening to tunes associated with good times or strong memories actually reduces your work focus.  So listen to something you normally wouldn’t and watch your productivity soar.

6.)    Eat.  It’s hard to concentrate when you’re hungry.  Snacks that are high-protein, high-fiber are best for productivity.  If you choose fruit as your snack of choice, add some peanut butter for energy (and extra yum).  High-fiber cereal with yogurt is also a good choice.

7.)    Nap.  Finally, for those who work from home or close to home, the tip you’ve all been waiting for.  Medical studies have shown that a short (10-20 minute) nap in the early afternoon can increase your productivity, alertness, and even your mood.  Some articles state that that drinking caffeine before your nap can further increase these effects.  Keep in mind that napping any more than 20 minutes will likely cause you to wake up more tired, so set an alarm.

There are many ways for you to increase your productivity and we’ve discussed some in the past.  Inc.com has this great article with even more ways to increase your productivity.  Try all of these out and see which ones work best for you.