Even though working from home can considerably improve the efficiency with which we accomplish tasks, sometimes we still need a productivity boost. And that’s especially true when working in shared spaces, racing to meet a deadline, or going through a stressful time.
But the simple fact is, there are ways of tricking our minds into operating at 100%. All we need is a couple of adjustments and a few tools to ensure maximum focus and dedication.
So, if you’re ready to hack your efficiency with an arsenal of digital and analog tools, here are the best ones to try out.
Setting the (productive) mood
As you’re probably aware, the environment in which you do your work has a significant effect on how you complete your assignments, so making a few adjustments is certainly worth a try. There is an endless number of things you could focus on, but let’s not dwell on those that require an entire remodel.
Instead, it’s not a bad idea to pay attention to making small changes that will have a considerable impact when combined.
One of the most distracting things in your workspace could be the sounds made by the people around you. If your family members (or noisy neighbors) are making it hard to concentrate, you should definitely invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
But, do keep in mind that playing your favorite album might not be a way to boost productivity. In fact, music with lyrics might just add to the distractions you’re trying to block out in the first place. That’s why it’s important to choose a playlist, or app, that helps you by providing focus-oriented sounds. A solution such as the [email protected] app can increase your average focus cycle from 20 to 100 minutes, prolonging periods between rest and helping you do more without growing tired.
As your circadian rhythm plays a big part in how your brain handles cognitive tasks, you should look into tools that can help you hack your periods of focus and rest.
The simplest solution? A set of smart light bulbs. You can choose any brand you want, depending on your budget, but Philips Hue has a pretty great app. It lets you set up automatic routines, choose predefined settings, and sync your lights with your desktop computer. Pretty neat, don’t you think?
Did you know that there’s an ideal temperature for productivity? According to research, people work best when their office temperature is set to between 70 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, a smart thermostat could just help you achieve more, without too much of an effort. It could also provide additional benefits. These include lower heating costs, energy efficiency, and better sleep (which is quite important for your productivity levels as well).
4. Air quality
If good air quality helps you do more, there’s absolutely no excuse not to include a few plants in your home office – even if you don’t exactly have a green thumb.
An app like Planta could help you take better care of your greenery, giving you easy-to-follow instructions, pro tips, and recommendations for your rooms’ light and humidity levels. And remember, watering your plants is a great way to take a break and move around, which is sure to boost your efficiency once you’re back at your desk.
Getting the most out of your routine
Where you work (and how you handle distractions) has a big influence on your productivity levels, and so do your routines. More often than not, efficiency depends not on working more but doing so in a smarter way. And luckily, there are several great tools to help you do just that.
5. Work + Rest
Seeing that the secret to productivity is rest, it’s not a bad idea to set up your schedule to allow for shorter and longer breaks during the day. If you haven’t tried the Pomodoro technique yet, definitely give it a go, and see whether a week or two of following such a schedule helps you accomplish more. There are numerous Pomodoro apps to help you organize your workday by encouraging you to break it up into 25-minute sessions of focus, followed by 5 minutes of rest.
6. Task tracking
Ok, so the simple truth is, everyone has their internal clock that determines when they’ll be at the top of their game. Tracking your time might just help you figure out when that time is for you.
Moreover, it could also help you identify your most common distractions so you can take the right steps to eliminate them. A great tool you can use for this is RescueTime. It helps you do all this and more, and even offers a version for remote team managers so that you can improve productivity on a company-wide level.
There’s no question about how distracting email can get. In fact, some research data suggests that the average worker spends 4 hours every day checking messages. But the amount of time is not that big of a problem. The biggest problem is that constantly checking your messages throws you off track and shifts your focus from tasks to these incoming messages, which are rarely important, urgent, or relevant to what you’re doing.
Nonetheless, there is a solution to this efficiency pitfall. Firstly, schedule your email answering sessions. One in the morning, one in the afternoon. That’s it. Secondly, try a tool such as SaneBox, which will help you ignore non-urgent messages and set up Do Not Disturb periods so that you can focus on your main tasks.
Don’t forget about self-care
While we’d all like to work super-efficiently, it’s not a bad idea to remind ourselves that we’re not robots. This means that it’s completely natural for our productivity levels to dip and rise. Of course, we can manage these oscillations by taking better care of our health. Still, it’s important to remember that high expectations can often do more harm than good.
When it comes to self-care, there are some excellent tools you can start using, and they’ll not only help you work better, but will make you feel better as well.
One of the main reasons for being distracted at work is the inability to cope with the many thoughts we have during the day. Daily meditation, however, can help address and organize these thoughts, allowing for more focus when at the office. Even more, it can reduce stress levels, which also has an effect on productivity. So, if you’re looking to be better at your job, you can try a tool such as Headspace, and see whether it offers the positive effect you’re after.
According to science, regular exercise (especially cardio) can help the brain tackle tasks better by increasing blood flow. So why not take a few breaks during the day and go for a run, do some squats, or enjoy a 20-minute yoga session? If you’re interested in investing in your physical health, definitely check out Lark, a digital health tool that offers a multitude of great tips on how to get moving, even if you’re stuck at home.
If you’ve ever had a big lunch and realized you couldn’t focus afterward, you probably already know the impact of nutrition on productivity. But, there is a simple hack: wholesome, intuitive eating. Don’t worry if your habits aren’t exactly the best. There are now great solutions to fix your diet. You can download any meal tracking app to your phone, or opt for a psychology-based approach with a tool such as Noom. Either can show great results in as little as a couple of weeks.
Most adults don’t get enough sleep on a daily basis. Yet, if you’re aiming to boost productivity, you might want to make sure you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of shuteye each night. Sleep deprivation leads to memory issues, diminishes cognitive speed and accuracy, and negatively impacts reasoning.
And the simplest tool to hack your rest? A comfortable mattress, some blackout shades, and a “no screens before sleep” rule. Of course, you can take things a step further as well with a sleep tracker or your smartwatch, but focusing on sleep hygiene will get you great results without the added cost.
As you can probably guess, doing your job efficiently does not have to mean slaving away at your desk for 12 hours each day. You can do more in less time, as long as you take the right steps. And luckily, there are numerous tools that will make your quest for productivity easier.
Nevertheless, remember that productivity in itself should never be your goal. Instead, focus on taking the steps to improve your physical and mental health, all the while finding ways to make your work more rewarding. If you’re happy with what you do and are feeling great, you’re sure to find that nothing will be able to stop you.