Is Your Productivity Suffering Lately?

office productivityIn the work world, there are plenty of things to hinder us from being our most productive. Chatty co-workers, inner office antics and general distractions are among the most common. But at what point does a little distraction or office banter become a serious detriment to your productivity and put you significantly behind on your workload?

If you find yourself treading water when it comes to your workload, due to distraction or simply not being able to focus, it may be time to change your inner office habits and create an atmosphere that helps you focus. Here are a few ideas for improving your productivity at work.

Don’t Multi-Task

So many of us, in the interest of getting more done, are convinced that multi-tasking is a direct path to better productivity. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. People who swear by multi-tasking actually tend to get less done and produce lower quality work than those who focus on one goal or task at a time. The co-worker who constantly boasts of his or her ability to do “three things at once” is probably not doing any of them well.

Don’t Forget to Take Breaks

Another thing that many people erroneously tend to do in their pursuit of productivity is overwork themselves. The idea that hunkering over your desk and refusing to make contact with the world for eight hours will increase your productivity is wrong in more than a few ways. The effects of staring continuously at your computer screen are immediately detrimental. Taking a 15 second micro break from staring at your screen, generally once every ten minutes, can help reduce eye fatigue and general visual exhaustion by a huge chunk.

Don’t Eat Lunch at Your Desk

On the same plane as the importance of breaks is the importance of eating lunch away from your desk. Staying at your desk during lunch, under the guise of getting more done, actually impedes your productivity, not only because you’re exposing yourself to more eyestrain but also because you’re forcing your brain to focus on the same topics and tasks for too long a period of time.

Not taking a proper lunch break also tends to lead you towards unhealthy foods. Workers who are worried about getting back to their desk during their lunch hour tend to gravitate towards fast food or vending machines for lunch, which generally only offer empty calories and none of the beneficial energy workers need to make it to 5:00.

Do Similar Tasks at Similar Times

Because the brain tends to function by grouping similar things together, it makes sense why it would benefit your productivity to do tasks that require similar skills, thought processes and actions at similar times. Planning out your day so that similar tasks can be completed within the same time frame can help you get more done by taking advantage of the way that your brain naturally works.

Know Your Socialization Limits

Another facet of slumping productivity at work is the tendency to socialize all day. While it is nice to work with people that you get along with, the urge to make work into an all-day social soiree can have potentially disastrous effects on your productivity.

The easiest way to combat the constant socialization that can occur when you work in closes quarters with a group of people is to set aside times when you can catch up on each other’s day and the latest news, discuss any casual work issues or goings on and generally enjoy one another’s company. When you have budgeted for social time in your work schedule, it’s easier to save a great story until the time arrives, rather than leave your desk in the middle of a project to talk to a co-worker for what could end up being a serious chunk of time. Set limits and stick to them.

Proper Use of Headphones is a Must

Headphones, especially comfortable, noise-canceling headphones, can really help you focus and drown out the often-annoying general office noises around you. When you just need to escape the calamity of a busy work space, headphones are great aids in doing so, and in the age of open workspaces, they have become extremely popular in dealing with a constant noise level in employees’ workspaces.

A negative result of wearing headphones too much, however, is that it can really remove you from office culture. Tuning out all day, rather than at selective moments, can create a distance between you and your co-workers that can have a negative effect on communication levels and cause you to be a step behind when it comes to office knowledge.

A happy work life, one which we are proud of and look forward to each day, is something that most of strive for. Part of that balance is figuring out how to be optimally productive while also enjoying your time at the office. Making a few changes to your inner office habits could help you get more out of your day and out of yourself.

Image Credit: Marcol