Stop getting distracted and follow these work productivity tips.
In a world of digital distractions, finding time to focus can be no easy feat. Indeed, with the average attention span in front of a computer estimated to be a mere 40 seconds before being sucked down a virtual vortex, it's little wonder that we often find it difficult to knuckle down and get the job done. To help you boost your productivity at work and make the best use of your office hours, here are the best work productivity tips to help you concentrate and succeed in your career.
Track and take charge of your online behavior
The first step to boosting your productivity at work is understanding exactly how you spend your time. Whether it's answering emails, sending invoices, updating filing systems, or adding interior-deco inspiration to your Pinterest board, mapping your behavior can reveal a lot about what's creating bottlenecks to your productivity. Web apps like RescueTime, which tracks time spent on applications and websites and creates a detailed report of your workday, or AntiSocial, which monitors social media usage and benchmarks your behavior against peers, can offer some interesting insights into how you're spending your 9-to-5.
Minimize distractions and “feng shui” your computer
Once you've identified the behaviors that are limiting your productivity, cultivate an online environment that eliminates unwanted distractions. In a world where applications are constantly vying for your attention –– a stream of little red flags and notifications that demand immediate resolution –– cleaning your digital workspace will help you focus on the task at hand. There are a host of free web apps designed just for this purpose, such as Writespace for Microsoft Word or Distraction Free Writing for WordPress. If you need a complete computer overhaul, apps like FocusWriter transform your entire screen into a distraction-free interface, complete with customizable backgrounds to help you stay in the zone.
Try time-tested productivity techniques
Productivity is as much environmental as it is mental, and syncing with the natural rhythms of your brain can lead to powerful results. Named for his tomato-shaped kitchen timer, Francesco Cirillo's Pomodoro Technique is a widely-adopted productivity booster for both professionals and students alike. The premise is simple: Work is allocated into 25-minute time blocks with a 5-minute break in between. After four consecutive time blocks, treat yourself to a well-earned 20-minute break. Using short, measured blocks of time will help you resist the urge to jump between tasks. After all, what's so important it can't wait 20 minutes? Regular breaks also help to keep the mind fresh so you can return to each task with renewed energy. Some of the best Pomodoro Technique apps are Pomodoro Keeper, a mobile app which also helps you identify your most productive periods of the day, and Marinara Timer, which creates a custom URL that can be shared by members of the same team to keep everyone's productivity in sync.
Work smart, not hard — or find apps to do it for you
Fine-tune your workflow with apps designed to minimize the monotonous. Routine tasks can be so small we tend to overlook them, but perform them 100 times a day and you'll find that time adds up. Does your work include constant back-and-forth between customers? Try the Canned Responses feature on Gmail, a series of auto-response templates that can be easily inserted into email replies. Are you constantly filling out forms with payment or mailing information? 1Password offers an encrypted vault for all your sensitive information, ready to auto-complete forms with your safely-stored data.
Disconnect and dream peacefully
Just as critical to staying in the zone during office hours is learning to switch off overnight and recharge. Researchers have long identified healthy sleeping habits as critical to productivity, yet mobile phones, tablets, and laptops are increasingly slipping between our bedsheets. Minimize the negative impact of bed-tech with apps like Twilight, which filters the light on your device according to the time of day and uses softer, warm colors in the evening, or Night Shift, an inbuilt iPhone feature that disables notifications from applications during set time periods. Most importantly, make sure the last thing you look at before going to sleep at night and the first thing you wake up to in the morning isn't battery-operated. Your daytime self will thank you for it.
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