If you’re the one in-charge of the business, you don’t have a huge amount of control over your own destiny at work – but there are still many habits you can get into that will help you get more done (and achieve some of that productivity euphoria in the process). Here are a few:
1) Do less, better.
Multitasking! A good skill to have, right? Not so much. Stanford University research has conclusively shown that you’re more productive when you’re focusing on one thing at a time.
If that came as a shock, you better sit-down before you read this next part – a University of London study found that multitasking for extended periods of time had trouble recalling information, paying attention, and just generally getting work done. In fact, inveterate multitaskers find their brains suffering similar effects to people who stay up all night – with their IQs dropping up to 15 points.
2) Embrace your inner morning person.
Your brain is at its best after rest – so schedule your day with the challenging, brain-draining tasks before lunch, and leave the busy work and meetings for the afternoon. That way, you don’t squander the best of your brain on the monkey work.
3) Break it down.
For some reason, the vast majority of us have our work lives structured around the fallacy that working in 4ish hour stints is a good idea – to the extent that we’re made to feel guilty if we’re doing something not work-related any time that’s not our lunch break.
But after sorting through mountains of data, productivity monitoring company DeskTime found that the most productive people worked in sprints. And they believe they found the ideal formula: 52 consecutive minutes of work, and then 17 minutes of rest and relaxation (rinse, repeat). Give it a try, there’s no need to feel guilty – it’ll just mean you’ll be spending a decent slice of your day resting and refreshing your brain, instead of checking Twitter constantly as your tired brain searches for distractions.
4) Plan it out.
It might be hard for creative types to accept the benefits of structure… but the cold, hard facts clearly show that planning your day is key to productivity. Don’t check your email every five minutes – plan a few times during the day to do it, and then spend the rest of your time getting stuck into work.
This doesn’t just apply to emails, though – if there are things you spend a huge number of short snippets of time on each day, find a way to condense all of the work into one block… and you’ll be freed up to blitz through your responsibilities the rest of the time.
5) Work to live, don’t live to work.
You’re always living your life, even when you’re at work (though you might sometimes feel like a desk zombie). So it’s important to remember that, as much as people talk about ‘work/life balance’, your personal life affects your work and your work affects your personal life – meaning there’s no real way to separate them from each other.
So embrace it! Plan ‘you time’ into your business calendar. Find ways to exercise on the way to (or at) the office. Make time for fun at the workplace. Because you’re a human, even when you’re at work – which means to get more out of the productive machine part of yourself, you need to make sure your personal needs are met.