When we think of productivity we often simply think it’s about getting as much stuff done as possible. Even organisations are consistently seeking more ways for employees to be more productive so that workload can be increased and profits improved.
As someone passionate about wellbeing, this is not how I see productivity. Instead, I believe productivity makes a fundamental impact on our happiness.
After all, when we’re focussed and in control of our work, we feel less stressed, more creative and bring our best work to the table.
Unfortunately, many of us still struggle with getting to know our productivity pain points, so I’ve shared below ten simple ways you can enhance your focus and productivity.
1) Manage Your Mind
It’s at the times we don’t want to be reminded of life admin, that our brain decides to switch on and tell us that we need to remember to take the bins out or get your Aunt a birthday present.
This happens to many of us when we come to sit down and try to focus on a task, but rather than get side-tracked by non-urgent admin, note down everything that pops into your brain onto a notepad so that you can deal with it once you’re done.
Not only will this help you stay on task, but helps you to manage all the other non-essentials in a time when it doesn’t infringe on a project.
2) Fight Your Fears
Procrastination is the enemy of productivity, but there’s often a reason you’re putting off that task or delaying the start on a project.
The truth is your brain is telling you all the reasons you shouldn’t start, and before you know it you’re blinded by small fears that are just pushing the task further out of your reach.
Self-doubt is the biggest killer of productivity. We think we’re not good enough, or believe we’re going to make a total mess of it. However, rather than you let your fears pick away at you, face them.
Sit down with a sheet of paper, and write down all your fears. Every single one of them, and get all your emotion on the paper. Yes, I’ll even let you put a few swear words in there.
Once you’re done and feel that all of it is out on paper, read it out loud. You may find this strange, but quite literally hearing these words out loud removes their power, and instead there will be a voice inside your head that tells you it’s all rubbish.
Only by tackling our fears head-on can we move on from them and enjoy the challenge of the task.
3) Focus At Will
I discovered focusatwill.com a few years ago, and ever since I’ve been able to be my most focused and productive in any space. From coffee shops, busy trains to libraries.
Focusatwill.com is a website that helps you discover the type of music that helps your brain to focus.
You simply follow the questionnaire and it selects a music genre based on your personality and the way you work.
This is an easy one but can be a great hack.
4) Find Your Space
Where in your environment makes you feel calm and focused?
This is personal to everyone because productivity is personal. What works for one person may not work for another, which is why understanding yourself and how you prefer working is often the biggest trick to being our most productive.
If you work in an open plan office, perhaps you prefer taking yourself off to a conference room for some peace and quiet, or maybe you prefer the canteen where there’s some hustle and bustle.
No matter where you feel you’re most comfortable, make it your mission to find it and make an effort to bring yourself to that place when you need it.
5) Get To Know Your Flow
The same must be said for your personal body clock. Some of us prefer working in the morning and others in the evening. But learning what works for you will increase your productivity significantly. Again, we’re not all the same, so find what feels good for you.
Once you know your flow, begin to plan your day around it. Assigning your most productive time to those peak focus hours, and all the other admin to the time when you know you don’t feel as focused.
6) Take Some Headspace
Before you commence on any project or task it’s essential to get your head in the right place.
If your mind is already overburdened with noise and clutter you’re never going to settle into a productive rhythm.
Whether you prefer taking a walk, or meditating, clear your head of the all the backchat that has been following you around. This way you can sit in your space and fully enjoy working, rather than feeling like your head is pulling you all over the place.
7) Have A Digital Detox
In the modern workplace, we are overwhelmed with information, from instant messaging, emails, social media and news.
Everything is coming at us, all the time. Our brains take a bit of a battering.
Instead, if you know you’ve got a big project or task coming up, take a digital detox and give your brain some space to just ‘be’.
This way you become more conscious of the information you’re putting in front of your brain, and can fully focus and put your energy into the task.
It’s not rocket science, but it may surprise you at how much a difference this makes to your productivity.
8) Tap Into Your Joy
When we’re happier we are more productive, in fact, a study by the Social Market Foundation found that happier people are 20% more productive. And this isn’t the only research that has resounding data to back-up the fact.
But the truth is, it makes sense. If we’re unhappy we’re not fully focussed or feel our best to do our best work. It’s a vicious cycle. We feel like we’re not going to do a great job and therefore we resent the fact we’re forcing ourselves into a task we’re not feeling ready for.
Whether you wake up in a funk, or just having a bad day, tap into something that makes you feel joyful so that you can lift yourself out of the grey cloud and tackle the task with energy and positivity.
It could be singing out loud in the car, making yourself your favourite cup of coffee, or watching funny cat videos on YouTube. Whatever your antidote, find it and use it as your happiness first aid when you’re needing it the most.
9) Stop Being A Perfectionist
It’s an obvious one, but your productivity could be stifled by your own desire to be perfect.
But rather than perfect you should attempt to look at your project as ‘in progress’, because the truth is there may be amends. Whether it’s from clients or colleagues there are always going to be small changes, and that’s because we all see things in different ways.
Holding onto a perfectionist attitude will only make every project you touch frustrating and exhausting.
Instead, do your best but don’t hold onto trying to make it perfect before you hand it across.
10) Ask For Help
Our egos have a lot to answer for when it comes to productivity, and that’s because they get in the way.
When we’re in the workplace it can be easy to take a pack mentality especially if an organisation is dominated by a hierarchy.
This leads us to act in a very different way than how we may behave at home as we don’t want to show any weakness. For example, using our job title to get what we want, or worst of all, not seeking help when we need it.
Help is not a weakness, but many of us still see it as one. This means that much of our work can be delayed because we don’t want to dent our egos.
But removing your ego, no matter your position needs to happen in order for you to accomplish great work.
Allowing ego to rule over you will diminish your productivity and eventually hold you back from creating some of your best work. Put it aside and ask for help when you need it.