Ten practical ways to improve workplace productivity

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We’re all in a race to get more done – even if that just means more free time at the end of the day. And if you’re feeling the pressure, it’s worth taking steps to make you more productive in minutes.

If you want to make changes to improve your productivity, then consider the ten tips we’ve listed here – they’re practical options that work right away. When so many productivity tips might only deliver a benefit in a few weeks or months, that’s a boon.

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The ten tips we’ve detailed here can be achieved quickly – some within minutes, and some within a couple of days – and they’re applicable if you’re regularly going to the office or working from home.

And don’t worry if you’d like some more tips to help you make the most of your working time, either: we’ve got tips for boosting your productivity when you’re not feeling your best and a guide to building a better work/life balance

Take regular breaks 

This might sound counter-productive – like you won’t get as much done if you keep stepping away from the task at hand – but if you take a short break from your job every hour, you’ll get more done by the end of each day.

There’s science behind this seemingly strange idea –studies have shown that short breaks can boost your mood and concentration levels. If you step away from the working environment regularly you’ll give your brain a chance to rest and reset, and that’s important for maintaining your energy levels and productivity across entire days.

Decline meetings 

Have you ever sat in a meeting or on a video call, feeling lethargic, and felt annoyed at how much of your time is wasted? We’ve all been there, and let us reassure you: it doesn’t have to be this way.

Next time you’re asked to attend a meeting, consider if it’s really necessary for you to attend – and if it’s not, politely explain that you think your time could be better spent getting on with the job rather than sitting in the meeting with everyone else. You could even suggest keeping discussions to emails or instant messaging apps if that’ll be more efficient and effective.

Of course, you’ll have to attend some meetings – that’s unavoidable. But next time you’re in a meeting, make sure you follow the agenda, take care not to overrun, and don’t be late. If you stick to those rules, even necessary meetings will take less time and free up more space for actual work.

Pack your morning routine 

It’s vital to have a morning routine that can help you get ready for a successful day. It’ll look different for everyone, but if you want to improve your productivity, you can change how each day starts.

If you want your morning routine to encourage calmness, mindfulness and mental wellbeing, then meditate and get exercise – it’ll set your mind up for the day ahead.

For a more practical approach, use your time before work to manage emails, handle your social media or even do your online grocery shopping. Your commute could become the time to think about how you’ll approach your day, or plan new projects. All of this will free up space in your brain, which will help you be more productive when you sit down to work.

Sort out your space 

If you have a cluttered, disorganized working space, you’re more likely to feel chaotic and disorganized when you’re working, and that’s no good for productivity.

Instead, clear your working area of stuff that you just don’t need – either tidy things away or just throw them into the bin. And instead of having even the best office desk crammed with stuff and mess, make sure that everything you need to get the job done is within arm’s length so you spend less time looking for it.

And if you really want to create a productive work environment, don’t stop there. Deploy plants, candles, flowers and pictures to create a more pleasing and calming space, and you’ll find that productivity and focus will follow.

Get some exercise  

There’s plenty of evidence that physical movement improves brain functionality, so if you get exercise before work or during the day you’ll benefit from better focus, a boosted mood and improved concentration – and, in turn, more productivity.

Exercising before work is the best option for all-day productivity. But, if that’s not possible, even getting away from your desk for a short walk is great – and remember that some companies have gyms at the office. And, no matter what kind of exercise you choose, remember to be consistent.

Delete the distractions 

During the average workday we’re bombarded by notifications from our smartphones, inboxes and social media apps, and every one has the potential for procrastination – often for minutes at a time. Add that up and you’ll lose plenty of time, and your work will suffer as a result.

Instead, disable notifications for apps and sites that you just don’t need – you’ll instantly gain time. Uninstall apps if you want to clean things up, commit to specific email time instead of looking at every message that arrives, and set your phone to flight mode if you’re desperate.

Eat well 

If you want to keep being productive all day, then you’ll have a hard time if you eat terribly and don’t drink enough water.

Instead, commit to a healthy diet as part of a practical, instant change to give your brain a fighting chance. Start the day with a good breakfast, eat a nutritious lunch and replace fatty snacks with cleaner, healthier options and you’ll feel the benefit. And drink plenty of water – your brain will be far more alert.

Prioritize the tough tasks 

No-one necessarily wants to tackle difficult work tasks, but if you get the tricky or challenging work jobs out of the way first then the rest of the day will be smoother – because your brain is at its best earlier in the day, and you’ll get a morale boost if you get the tough stuff done quickly.

If you don’t do this, you’ll be distracted by those difficult jobs for the rest of the day – they’ll be lurking in the background, waiting to trip you up. Get the hard yards out of the way first, and the rest of the working day will benefit.

Take two minutes 

Workdays are rarely linear or straightforward, so you’ve got to deal with issues quickly before they derail your whole day. In some cases that means parking tasks until later – but, in other cases, it means deploying the two-minute rule.

It’s a simple concept: if a task appears on your radar and you can complete it within two minutes, do it immediately. It’ll keep pesky, irritating errands off your to-do list and get them done more efficiently than going back to them at another time.

Invest in some new technology 

This may not be a practical choice for some depending on how much money you’ve got to spend, but if you spend a good portion of your working day waiting for your computer to catch up with you then it could be worth investing in some new hardware.

If you buy a new computer or laptop an increase in processing speed will help you get more work done quickly. A second screen will make your workflow more efficient because it’ll give you more space, and investing in a better keyboard and mouse can speed up typing and navigation. It’s even worth buying the best office chair for your workspace if your current seating arrangement isn’t very good – a terrible chair can cause back pain and lethargy.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.