If you have ever ended a workday with virtually the same to-do list you had that morning, you know that being productive at the office can sometimes be a struggle.
Distractions — many of which stem from the same technology that’s designed to make us more efficient — abound. And good intentions are often not enough to complete our work. But there are strategies and tools you can use to ensure that your energy and attention remain focused on your important business tasks.
1. Audit your energy
George Torok, a business coach based in Burlington, Ont., says productivity is not about managing time as much as it is about managing energy. And everyone has different energy cycles.
“Each person has to discover [his or her] own energy peaks and lows throughout the day,” Torok says.
Understanding your own energy cycle makes it easier to map out a day that is more productive.
“You can’t keep working at the same pace on a particular task and be productive all day long,” Torok says.
Also, recognize that your energy fluctuations can change over time, depending on your age and your health.
2. Move it
We are animals and we’re designed to move. Forcing yourself to work on a project nonstop — and deskbound — will guarantee less-than-stellar work, Torok says.
At least once every hour, you should get up and move around. Running up some stairs, walking around the office and stretching will all increase your intake of oxygen, providing an energy surge. “You need that mental break,” Torok adds.
3. Get a water boost
While the go-to energy drink for most people is caffeine-based, water has its own special properties that make it the ideal beverage to increase vigour.
Up to 60% of the human adult body is water, and downing a few glasses of water throughout the day can help battle dehydration, a certain energy-sapper from which many of us unknowingly suffer.
4. Schedule your distractions
Pretending that YouTube doesn’t exist or that your news feed is down might work over the short term. But the best way to combat the lure of the Internet is by scheduling time to spend on your diversions, according to Torok: “Give yourself an allowance.”
Try a time-management app to track how you are spending your time, especially online. These tools make it impossible for you to lie to yourself about your productivity.
5. Take a coffee nap
The latest buzz in productivity research is the so-called “coffee nap.” Scientists have discovered that drinking a cup of coffee and then napping for 20 minutes is more effective than doing either solo.
It takes about 30 minutes for the brain receptors to fill up with caffeine, which causes them to block the lethargy-causing molecule adenosine that naturally builds up in our cells throughout the day. If you can swing it, drink a coffee, then take a 20-minute nap. The caffeine and the benefits of the nap should be kicking is as you wake up.