With our 24/7 connected lifestyle, we’re all searching for ways to be more productive during our working week. From buying a cactus to going on a holiday, we’ve compiled ten genius productivity hacks to get your ‘To-Do’ list done!
Plant an Office Garden
A recent study from the University of Exeter found that ‘lean’ office spaces (those with few decorations, distractions, decor or souvenirs) are psychologically toxic environments. However, the good news is introducing a few green plants into these sparse environments had dramatic effects on worker happiness and productivity, increasing output by up to 15% percent! So get yourself a cactus for your desk and get your work cranking.
Work with Colour
Colour can have a powerful effect on our psyche. Blues stimulate our mind, yellows our emotions, red our body and green our sense of philosophical balance. Renowned colour psychologist Anne Wright says colour saturation and combination can stimulate multiple parts of our brains at the same time. People who do physically intensive jobs may benefit from surrounding themselves with both red and green tones, while those in creative ‘office’ type jobs may be better suited by a combination of blues and oranges. Colours can be stimulating or soothing depending on their intensity – so not all yellows are created equal; low colour saturation will be more soothing than a bright, bold version of the same colour. You can check out Wright’s book for more details on how to surround yourself with the right colours for productivity.
Although shutting your office door and working in isolation can be beneficial, sometimes, working with other people around can actually benefit your productivity. In fact, low to moderate levels of ambient noise (like in an open plan office, co-working space or coffee shop) may increase creative cognition and productivity. If you can’t take your work to a coffee shop, try Coffitivity, which stimulates the noise of a coffee shop through your computer or smartphone.
Schedule “Free Time”
This may seem counterintuitive to ‘getting stuff done’ but bear with us. Free time is really important. In fact, working too much actually makes us stupid. Long working hours has been linked to a decrease in cognitive function (our brain’s ability to, you know, think and problem solve and stuff). Working less, taking frequent breaks and going on holidays (or at least taking holidays away from work), can all help increase our productivity. So, if you’re feeling swamped, taking some time away from your ‘To-Do’ list may actually enhance your ability to complete it!
Create Airplane Days
If you travel for work, you do one of two things on a plane – you work or you catch up on the in-flight entertainment. But most of us work. And have you noticed anything about the time spent working in-flight? You get A LOT done. Maybe it’s the ambient noise level (see previous tip) or the pressurised cabin air or, wait, maybe it’s the lack of internet, mobile phone and any other technological distraction we’re forced to turn off in flight. Or the fact that no one can pop in to our office, call us ‘quickly’ or otherwise take our attention away from the task at hand. Try simulating the isolated in-flight working experience with ‘airplane days’. For one day, or two half days, a week, turn off your phone, disconnect from the internet and declare your office off limits to visitors (as if you’re mid-flight). You’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish.
Go Meeting Free
Meetings, meetings, meetings. Meetings about scheduling meetings. Meetings where the outcome is to have another meeting… Sometimes, it feels like you spend your whole day in meetings and don’t have any time to get your actual work done! Declare one day of your week meeting free – No Meeting Wednesdays or Meeting Free Monday.
Balance Mind and Body
Meditate, exercise, eat right, sleep well and hydrate! Poor diet and exercise may be making you less productive. Take time out for a walk, jog, pilates or jump on the crazy cross-fit train. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fibre, fruits and veggies. Increase your productivity by up to 14% just by drinking water!
Ok, we’re not saying cut out your caffeine intake entirely. Generally, caffeine is ok in moderation, so your morning latte is safe – phew! However, drinking coffee throughout the day may affect your ability to unwind and sleep later in the day and lack of sleep can have a significant impact on productivity so switch your afternoon cuppa to a glass of water, a quick break in the fresh air or, our next tip…
Naps are not just for children! Naps can improve productivity, alertness and focus. NASA tested the benefits of napping on their pilots; pilots who took a short (40 minute) nap saw their productivity lift by 34%. Some of the biggest, most successful businesses in the world encourage their employees to nap – Google’s headquarters have ‘nap rooms’ with sleeping pods so employees can easily get some sleep time.