Offices were meant to be the best place to get work done. But between the people milling around, the allure of the internet to distract us and the general din that occurs when you stick hundreds of people in a big room together, sometimes it can be hard to be productive.
We’ve got 10 tips to keep you going, even in the most distracting of offices.
Remember: Mornings are Your Best Friend
If you’re not a morning person, getting a lot done in the morning seems daunting — and you probably try to do the lion’s share in the afternoon. But science is not on your side, my friend. According to expert psychologist Roy Baumeister, the most productive time to work is around two hours after you wake up.
This is because your brain starts to get exhausted as the day wears on, and is less likely to make better decisions throughout the day.
Take Breaks — Often
It might be hard to take a snack break or a few minutes for some fresh air when you’re “in the zone,” and it may even feel counterproductive, but taking breaks will help you look at what you’ve done from a fresh perspective.
Even taking some time for some valuable Candy Crush playing will help you decompress a little.
Consider Throwing on Some Headphones (Occasionally)
Drowning out the office din is important, especially when you need to get a big project out of the way. So putting in earbuds for a few hours every day will be really helpful to help you get into that “work mode.”
But be careful about having headphones on all the time — studies show listening to music might lower your concentration.
Make Your Space Your Space
If your cubicle is grey and cluttered with papers, it’s time to do a little revamp. A soothing space with bright colors will actually help your productivity (and probably put a smile on your face). Make sure there’s a spot for everything, so no papers or supplies are just drifting around.
And try incorporating plant-life into your office. Studies find having live plants in the office can ramp up productivity.
Remember the Competition
Especially if you’re in sales, more and more brick-and-mortar stores need to compete with online services, which have tightened belts of brick-and-mortar stores across the world. Then again — there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Let that sense of competition fuel your work when you’re feeling a little sluggish. There should be a little more spring in your step.
Meeting with different teams throughout the day seems like it would be productive, but it’s actually hindering your office’s productivity. Stop putting so many meetings on the calendar and as a rule of thumb don’t meet just to talk about something that could be resolved over a few emails.
Switch Things up Once in a While
Ask your boss if you can leave the office occasionally, and switch out your cubicle for the atmosphere of a local coffee shop or even your home’s kitchen table. The new surroundings might inspire you to think differently.
Priorities, Priorities, Priorities
Multi-tasking sounds like a good idea, but constantly switching gears from one project to another gets confusing and ultimately isn’t the most productive way of doing things.
Be meticulous about scheduling — keeping everything from a daily to a monthly schedule – and try not to deviate.
Dress for Success
Ladies, men are freezing you out of the office. Guys, you might actually find the office the office climate a little too warm. Wherever you fall, make sure you dress in layers for optimal comfort at the office. Shivering through a project won’t make for the best work.
Leave Work at the Office
Research in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology finds checking email after work is actually harmful to your health. Rest assured, your email will still be in your inbox when you come in on Monday morning, and you’ll probably be much more productive starting fresh every day.
In the end, remember how lucky you are to work in an office, surrounded by people working toward the same thing. If you’re really feeling unproductive, just look toward a trusting co-worker to help get you back on track.
Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger and calendar-planning enthusiast. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts, or check out her blog, Productivity Theory for more productivity tips.