It may seem obvious but one of the most important tips for enhancing productivity is to get started. Psychology shows that when someone procrastinates they imagine the worst parts of a project which delays them from getting started while their brain “simulates” real work by doing small mindless tasks to fill the time. However once you actually begin a task the “Zeigarnik Effect” takes hold, a discomfort that tends to linger until you’ve completed your objective.
2. Environment – the internal environment of the workplace can also have a marked impact on improved performance.
Researchers have found that a moderate level of ambient noise improves the brain’s cognitive and creative functions. For creative tasks in particular a level of about 70 decibels (similar to what you’d experience in a coffee shop) has been show to enhance performance
The University of Exeter recently conducted experiments that house plants present in an office environment boosted creativity and overall wellbeing by 38 and 47 per cent respectively.
Recent studies have shown that the aromatic flavour of an office environment can have a marked effect on productivity. Upon experiencing the scent of lemons workers made a surprising 54% less errors, with Jasmine 33% and Lavender 20%
3. Limit your email usage
According to the McKinsey Global Institute workers can spend a productivity sapping 28% of the week responding to emails. Some tips to stop emails taking over the working day:
• Limit checking your email to once or twice a day, giving it your full attention.
• Keep emails brief
• Try and email nightly whenever possible and go to bed with an empty inbox
4. Track your time
Recording how productive you’ve been can be difficult, however it forces you to take a hard look in the mirror and reconcile with the fact that you may have been slacking off. Whether using an app like Toggi or just a pen and paper keeping track of your time makes it more likely you will value your time and manage your tasks
Recently Swedish researchers have found that physical activity can lead to higher productivity. Those who exercised during work hours turned in consistently higher quality work and had a higher tolerance of their peers. Another study produced similar results with focus improved for upto three hours afterwards.
6. Cut Social media
This one is a bit more complicated. The big data firm Evolv found that hourly workers who accessed four social networking sites per week both maintained their jobs longer and accumulated more sales whilst another study found short break on the internet helped boost productivity. However this is not to say that accessing social media at work is necessarily the best court of action. According to haron.ie 57% of all work interruption involve email, social media or text messages with an average worker being interrupted once ever ten minutes. Thankfully many apps like “Self-Control”, “Freedom and “Anti-Social” exist to stop you consistently falling down the online rabbit hoe
7. Snack & Gum
Researchers from UCLA have discovered that the brain works best when there are around 25g of glucose in the bloodstream (about as much as in a banana). It keeps the brain alert and focused but if levels get too low we can become easily distracted. Your best bet is to choose food low on the glycemic index then snack throughout the day.
8. Say no the right way
Your productivity can be greatly affected by agreeing to every little task that comes your way. Interestingly the Journal of Consumer Research found that saying “I don’t” when declining an offer (“I don’t have time’) was many times more effective than saying “I can’t”, with students sayings the latter succumbing 61% of the time whilst those using the former only 36%. The rationale seems to be that while “I don’t” is psychologically empowering, “I can’t” has the opposite effect.
9. Looking at cute animals
A researcher from Japan recently concluded a study (“The Power of Kawaii”) which showed that looking of picture of cute puppies, pandas and cats not only improve your mood but actually make you more productive. Those who looked at neutral images or normal adult animals underperformed those looking at the more adorable ones by a significant margin. So when you find your work pace flagging perhaps google a picture of your favourite internet cat to get you back on track.