How to boost your productivity

Many of you have had almost a year of working remotely or a hybrid between the office and the home office, or have moved back to the office again.

Either way, managing our time and being productive in our work can be challenging at times.

That said, we can all realise when our office space isn’t conducive to spark motivation and inspiration that allows for flow or focus or we don’t have the necessary strategies in place to make sure we work smart with the time we have at our disposal.  This makes way for us to rely more on self-directed strategies to assist us in working productively while maintain our wellness and a sense of flexibility.

Read on for some valuable tips to ensure you deploy your productivity and energy levels for an efficient workday.

  1. Start fresh and organise your work space

If you feel overwhelmed by all the disorganisation that is ruling your desk, mountains of clutter and paper work then it’s time to start fresh. Clear your whole desk and only replace items that are essential for your daily use.

According to an impressive publication by the Journal of Neuroscience, clutter has the ability to limit the brain’s function to process information correctly. So, if you want to start completing tasks more efficiently, it’s time to get tidying. Add pops of colour to your workspace where possible, such as wall art or décor items. Colour can have a major impact on your mood, with especially greens and blues proven to increase productivity.

Personalise your workspace with for example a scented candle, a plant or a particular photo, a lamp etc, this will help you feel comfortable, focused and motivated throughout the day. These items, particularly scents and plants can have very positive effects on your emotional well-being.

  1. Utilise the natural light in your space

If possible, set up your office in a room with natural light and windows. You will experience the benefits of keeping your space bright and airy, because you’re spending the majority of the day working at your desk, having access to natural light can have an impact on your overall work performance, mood and wellness.

According to research done by Harvard Business Review workers who worked in offices with daylight environments reported a 63% drop in the incidence of headaches and 56% reduction in drowsiness. You will experience the health benefits and increase in alertness in your remote work by choosing to have your office set up in a place that receives natural light and air. If you don’t have access to natural light, then a quick walk out on the balcony or outside space can do wonders for your alertness and general engagement.

  1. Work when you’re at your most productive.

It will be impossible for us to sprint through all our tasks in a day without experiencing peaks and drops in our motivation and energy. However, it’s really important to know when that will take place and to plan your schedule around it.

To really take advantage of your most productive periods, save your harder tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them and use slower points of the day to finish off the easier tasks, these are known as “small acts of success”, and they help build your momentum for the heavier projects that are waiting for you later on. Or if you more productive in the mornings, start your day with your more challenging tasks and do the easier tasks later in the day.

But how do you really know when you’re at your most productive? You can align your work to your chronotype, which is your natural body clock, that refers to your natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle.

About 10% of people are known as larks, who feel most energetic in the mornings. At the other end of the spectrum we have the 20% of people who are owls, or better known as people who do their best work at night. Most of us lie somewhere in the middle of this spectrum and can experience energy bursts in the morning and dips in the afternoon.

In order to plan your day better, start the process of restructuring your day by following this link and assess your chronotype.

Then align the work that requires your most intense brain power with your energy peaks.

  1.  Plan your day the night before.

According to research 44% of workers feel that amidst the change of working from home specifically it has become vital to know how to motivate yourself when you are not confined to working from an office space. One of the most effective methods to use to motivate yourself is with a to-do list and this should be done the night before you need to get these tasks completed.

Preferably while you’re still in work mode, take the final 10 minutes of your day to assess what you need to get done the following day. It’s important to keep your to-do list short so it doesn’t seem overwhelming.

A great method to use is the Urgent-Important Matrix that helps you to prioritise tasks and organise them into four quadrants by urgency and importance. Then you instantly identify tasks in the ‘Urgent-Important’ area that you can focus on while also scheduling, delegating or eliminating the others.

Another method that can be useful is one that is suggested by Google’s productivity advisor. She starts off by writing down her top three priorities on a planning schedule (available to download here

And to top it off she then writes the following underneath her first priority, ‘Until this first task is finished, everything else is a distraction.’ So that’s my one thing I need to get done.”

She then does her planning at micro-level, each hour, for example even the smallest task that needs to be completed is more likely to happen when you write it down, her process also includes “snack sized to-dos,” which are tasks that can be done in between meetings as they only require a few minutes, like making a phone call or replying to emails.

It is important to take control of your day with planning in order to enable you to take on tomorrow’s tasks already planned while having them still fresh in your mind.

By Suzanne Meyer

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