4 Tips to a More productive You

Office Acoustics & Why They’re Getting Worse

Business Insider recently ran an article on productivity tools.  From carrying a moleskin for incredibly creative insights to hiring an older assistant, these tips are fabulously unattainable for most.  They assume a certain managerial, possibly even budget-free quality of life.  Most of us don’t have assistants, much less the ability to buy every book we have a hankering for.  That said, I am definitely on the same page as the quoted Ryan Holiday:

“Like all people, I like to think I am a productive person,” Ryan says. “If I am, though, it’s because I’ve been ruthlessly efficient at one thing: stealing secrets and methods from people a lot smarter than me.”

I’m not claiming to be smarter than anyone, but I have balanced being a mom, a student, a teacher, and a professional- all at the same time!  So here are four tips straight from the trenches.  They are my daily go-to’s for better, more productive days.

Prioritize your day. It’s easy to lose a half hour to an hour checking email.  Instead, start your day with more important tasks or items on your to-do list.  Usually, even if you’re not a morning person, you’re starting off fresh and hopefully before you’ve hit any snags.  Only check your voice mail or e-mail once or twice a day, and keep your own messages short and direct. Don’t let low priority tasks interrupt you constantly throughout the day.

Use white noise. Today’s sound masking technology is very precise and floods the background with “white” noise that focused on the spectrum of human speech. Office-wide sound masking can lower distractions by up to 51 percent by covering the excess conversations and noise in an open floor plan. You can also try a personal sound machine, if you don’t have control over the sound quality in the office.

Limit distractions and interruptions. While you can’t control it all, you can certainly control yourself…right?  Try establishing a “no-interruption” time of about an hour to focus on important tasks (see first tip). Start by turning off all your self-distractions, like your phone and e-mail. Spend this time in focused concentration. Turn on a white noise machine to cover office noise(see second tip). You can even post a sign indicating that you currently cannot be interrupted, and a time when you will be available again. You can repeat this focused time throughout the day to make the most of your time.

Improve your posture. This one took longer to really implement.  Actually, it took aches, pains, and hand cramps for me to take seriously.  Typing/working however and wherever you want sounds great, but takes a toll on your body. If you can, adjust your chair to properly fit you, from the height of the seat so that your feet are flat on the floor to the backrest on your chair to fit the curve of your spine. You could also add portable lumbar support if your chair does not fully support your lower back (even a rolled up towel can do the trick!). Then, move your arm rests low enough or out of the way while typing to allow free arm movement.  Finally, be sure your hands are in a neutral typing position.  That means no weird positioning (even while mousing!) or cocked wrists.

Being intentional about your work habits can make all the difference between a day that simply passed and a day that was productive.