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Almost everyone would rather work smarter than harder. An ideal state of mind is one in which one achieves top performance, gets through tasks, and feels accomplished.

How to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

When you're passionate about your business, being productive can be as satisfying as the work itself.  

To increase your productivity at work, you must be honest with yourself and break habits that hold you back.  

The way you think needs to change as well. Rather than being reactive problem solvers, most of us need to be proactive in anticipating roadblocks and preventing them.

The process involves some planning with SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Mindsets and habits are difficult to change and doing so takes practice.  

Taking control of our workday means replacing our bad habits and reactive patterns with good habits. Here are some tips on how to become your most productive self at work (and in life!) and increase productivity.

Prioritize Taking Care of Yourself

First things first, genuine self-care means investing time in your mental, emotional, and physical health. In this way, you can effectively deal with whatever life throws at you. Here are some quick tips to take care of yourself:

Your Basic Needs

A vital aspect of self-care is ensuring that your body has the basic elements it needs to survive and thrive.  

If you work in a field that requires a lot of dedication, such as service work or healthcare, this is especially true. Consider Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs bottom rung, which consists of warmth, water, food, and rest. Providing for these needs is simple, but often overlooked:

  • Rest and recuperate regularly to keep your body healthy
  • Hydrate yourself
  • Consume healthy foods
To practice genuine self-care, it is essential to address these basic needs. Maintaining sustained productivity is possible thanks to their ability to keep your body alive and healthy.

Communicate with Others

Your needs also include security, intimacy, and self-esteem. Communicating with others can fill these needs. You can manage stress and anxiety in your life most effectively by talking to a friend. Make time for it!

Establish Boundaries, Especially If You’re Working from Home

By separating your work and rest zones, you will be able to relax and unwind at times. In a home office where you can easily blur the lines between work and downtime, this is a crucial habit to establish. Is it possible to increase productivity at home if you work at home? Concentrate entirely on your work by setting clear boundaries. You can unplug after work by making a meal, spending time with family or friends, exercising, or relaxing with a book.

Slow Down

Americans have an unhealthy mindset that revolves around "doing."  

The general attitude is such that having a job doesn't matter as much as what you do while you're working and that setting goals and achieving them are the only ways to add value to living life. Being in a state of constant action and accomplishment isn't healthy. Life is not a competition.  

Many people believe that slowing down or pausing for a moment shows weakness and a lack of ability. This is ironic since the key to living a happy, fulfilling life is often to slow down and breathe. Reflecting on your needs can help you become more productive.

Self-Care Increases Efficiency

Consider how you can incorporate self-care into your routines so that you can be more productive, not more efficient. Taking time out of your busy schedule to care for yourself will enable you to be healthy and more productive while you work, resulting in a more holistic approach to productivity.

Capitalize on Your Peak Energy Times

Identifying when you are most mentally energized is different for everyone.  

Many people like that time before the rest of the family is awake, some love a lazy coffee before getting to work. Others are night owls and find themselves energetic in the evening or late into the night. Whatever your peak is, capitalize on that time to get through tasks that you’ve been putting off. Make creative use of energy dips. Because your brain is less inhibited when it has the least energy, it is able to generate ideas more freely. Brainstorm or work on creative projects during your least energetic moments. This must be why some of us get our best ideas in the shower!

Multitasking Hinders Performance

Our work environments today are highly disruptive. When we turn on our computers and sit at our desks, we are bombarded by hundreds of emails clamoring for our attention.  

Our phones are pinging non-stop with notifications for messages, likes, and comments while our colleagues complain about the new company policy designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home. Our attention is constantly being diverted between crises as a result of all these distractions.

Whenever you think you are multitasking, you are simply switching from task to task at the same time, depleting your energy. Despite not exercising during the day, you arrive home feeling drained from switching tasks, and you're not in the mood to cook dinner or work out. Make use of time-limit apps on your phone (or put it away altogether), and focus on one task at a time.

Create a To-Do List

To-do lists are indispensable productivity tools. Getting organized and completing tasks can provide you with focus, as well as give you a sense of achievement when you check things off your list. Making (or updating) a to-do list at the end of your workday while work is still fresh, sets you up for tomorrow’s work, easy organization, and quicker beginnings to the following day.  

When you start your day with this list, you will have mentally planned for your tasks and feel ahead of the game. All that’s left is knocking off each task!

Slash Your To-Do List

Higher productivity demands focus. Look at your list and see if any tasks can be slashed completely. Then, use the following criteria to determine if your to-do list is realistic:

Set Your Priorities for the Day

If you are having trouble prioritizing, follow the 1-3-5 rule: Identify one big task, then three medium tasks, and finally five small ones. This will make it easier for you to prioritize.

Estimate How Long Each Will Take

Set a time frame that you think will be sufficient for completing your most important tasks now that you've identified them. When creating a to-do list, create shorter actions that take no more than an hour. Break large tasks up into smaller, more manageable steps if they will take you more than 90 minutes.

Assign a Time for Certain Activities

"Eat the Frog" at peak productivity time, and do it first if possible. This means completing that one task you've been procrastinating on so you feel accomplished and get more done throughout the day. You should schedule time in your calendar to complete those business tasks that require your complete attention.  

Minimize interruptions from your phone, laptop, and co-workers.

Delegate Properly

One of the biggest impacts you can make when you’re learning how to increase productivity in a business? Delegate!  

You will be able to accomplish more high-level assignments like business development, strategy sessions, and project management when you aren't swamped by minor details and mundane tasks. You'll also be able to produce better quality work.  

A person's performance often suffers when they are overworked or overwhelmed. Work is rushed, communications fall through the cracks, and deadlines are missed.

If you can hand off website design, copywriting, blog writing, and marketing to others, your true focus will be on the things that matter most. Delegation is not a way to slack off and shift your responsibilities to your employees. To improve your productivity, you have to be honest about your workload and give yourself the time and space to complete the high-level leadership tasks you need.

Identify tasks you can delegate to a freelancer or a virtual assistant by reviewing your to-do list.  

There are at least 9 tasks that are wasting your time, and it’s best for your business (and your sanity) to just delegate them!  

Review all the meetings on your calendar and decide which can be canceled in exchange for a short phone call or Slack chat to further simplify things. Are those networking events you’re attending paying off? Put them on hold until you come up with a better strategy. Consider opportunities where you can hire someone to assist with administrative tasks, SEO, or bookkeeping. Ensure that your to-do list includes tasks that only you can complete and aligns with the company's values and goals.

Eliminate Distractions

It can be difficult to stay focused in a busy workplace, whether you work from home or not. There are phone calls, emails, text messages, and if you are in a home office, family or pets. Occasional distractions are harmless, but frequent interruptions can have a negative impact on your productivity.

Join a Productive Team

Concentration is contagious, so surround yourself with the most productive colleagues. You'll be less likely to get interrupted unnecessarily if you work next to or sit next to someone who is a pro at focusing on their tasks.

Divide Tasks into Manageable Chunks

Our productivity can be affected when large tasks seem overwhelming, which leads to us embracing interruptions.  

You will feel more able to accomplish your goals if you break a large task down into smaller tasks that require less time. Smaller tasks are more likely to keep you focused on getting each mini-task completed, ensuring you're more likely to stay on track.

Establish Boundaries with Colleagues Who Interrupt You

Setting some boundaries with someone who tends to distract others can help you focus on your task. It is possible to inform someone you have to work on a specific task politely and without hurting their feelings. Let them know when you’ll be able to answer their questions.

Block Social Media Distractions

Put your phone away! Yes, it’s difficult. If you find it impossible to avoid social media or celebrity news, consider investing in one of the distraction-free apps available. These solutions will block you from selected websites for a specified duration:

  • Forest to motivate you to put down your phone
  • Serene facilitates deep focus sessions
  • Freedom to block distractions on all your devices at once
  • LeechBlock NG provides free browser-based blocking of websites
  • Cold Turkey Blocker schedules system-wide blocking
  • RescueTime integrates website blocking with time tracking
  • SelfControl for an all-in option for people with no self-control

Make Time for Breaks

Moving your body, even for 15 minutes, gets your blood flowing and re-energizes you to leap back into tasks. It’s more effective than a cup of coffee and doesn’t have a crash afterward. Take a brisk walk around the block, drink a large glass of water, and get back to work. Your brain will reward you!

Plan Phone Calls

When you are about to start a project that requires your focus, turn off your phone. Make all your outgoing calls at a specified time so you spend less time trying to reach people and more time having productive conversations. Leave your phone on if you're working on something that doesn't need your full attention; it will save you from having to return a handful of phone calls during your day. Knowing when your phone will distract you is important, so get it out of the way.

Focus on Your Focus!

When we try to change everything at once or take on too much, we tend to burn out. Be realistic about which of your commitments, opportunities, and to-dos you should actually accomplish. You cannot transform your life overnight. It takes time to make big changes. Concentrate on just one change for a period of three to six weeks. If you succeed in doing that one thing, you'll gain confidence and momentum for the next goal. Creating sustainable change will become much easier.  

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