Increasing Productivity at Work

May 31, 2014

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"Office work space"

As the workday goes on, it can become increasingly difficult to be focused and productive. Too often, workers find themselves feeling burnt out and unmotivated in the afternoon hours. For regular 9–5’ers, steps can be taken to improve productivity.

Here are a few tried-and-true methods to getting the most out of each day spent in (and out) of the office:

Actually Focus on the Task at Hand

Honestly assess how quickly you could finish an assignment. Without texting and checking your email every five minutes, many tasks can actually be accomplished in a fraction of the time we normally use. Write down a reasonable amount of goals for the day, and commit out loud to working on them until they are done. Put down the distractions and resist the urge to chime into every office conversation—you may just find yourself producing a higher-quality product in half the time.

Take Breaks

As long as you aren’t taking dozens of breaks while still on the clock, do not be afraid of pausing your work every once in a while! The brain can only focus on a task for so long, and taking short breaks to recharge are a necessary part of the workday. Just make sure these breaks are not all about watching cat videos or checking Facebook—stand up, step away from your computer, and go do something else. Grab a bite to eat, walk around the building, go to the bathroom, stand in the break room, or take a power nap. Just give your poor eyes and mind a rest from your job.

Work From Home

This simply is not an option for some people. However, if your company will allow it, see if you can work from home one or two days a week. In a study published in the Harvard Business Review, employees of a call center were allowed to work from home over a period of 9 months. Their happiness and productivity levels were measured against a control group of employees who remained in the office to work. The at-home employees were happier with their jobs, less likely to quit, and significantly more productive than their counterparts. If you are in a line of work that allows telecommuting, give it a try.

Constantly Keep a To-Do List

Sometimes, we waste precious time “deciding” what to do next. Keep a list of the tasks that need to be accomplished, and update it every time you finish a task. Prioritize your responsibilities and set daily time limits for larger projects. Know what you need to get done, and when you are going to do it. Planning out your work days in advance will help you not feel overwhelmed when you show up at the office after battling rush hour.

Employees all operate differently, but everyone can take steps toward accomplishing more meaningful things during the day. For more suggestions on how to revamp your workplace habits, visit

Photo Courtesy of Phil Whitehouse and Creative Commons.

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