If you’re anything like me, staying focused and productive over the course of an eight hour plus day can be a challenge. For me there are not only a billion things tempting me into blissful distraction (damn you, MagicPen), but there are all those to-dos, unopened emails, and meetings threatening to be a huge time-suck. I get burnt out just thinking about it all.
If you can relate, you’re in luck. I’ve compiled the most helpful tips and tricks that will keep you at peak productivity levels without fear of burning out. These tips come from me and the rest of my marketing team, who are seriously the most productive people I know. Plus, a lot of this advice is backed by science, so you know it’s legit.
1. Take a Walk Outside
This was a team favorite and for good reason. Research shows that taking a walk in any green space can lessen your brain fatigue, and scientists at Stanford have found that walking can increase creative thinking by 60%. So break free from the notion that productivity means sitting at your desk, eyes glued to your screen, and fingers on your keyboard.
2. Talk Out Loud
How many times have you gotten stuck on a presentation, pitch, or piece of content and stared blankly at your computer half expecting the answer to magically come to you? Getting your story right takes practice, and it’s not going to come out right the first time. The best way to hone your message and your story is to verbalize it and talk it through with people.
3. Create Hard Stops
This tip is for anyone that struggles to maintain a work-life balance. Sometimes you just need to set hard stops and deadlines to motivate yourself to finish your project in a reasonable time. Having hard stops at the end of the work day, whether it be a 6 p.m. yoga class or dinner date, will help you stay focused and motivated to get stuff done.
4. Don’t Eat at Your Desk
This one has been talked about a lot. There is tons of research that shows the consequences of eating lunch at your desk, so just don’t do it. I promise you’re not doing any favors to the quantity and especially the quality of your work. Not to mention the crumbs left all over your desk and keyboard – gross.
5. Tackle Easy Wins
Go for the easy wins that don’t take much time or brain power when you’re feeling stuck. This kind of approach coincides with the Getting Things Done methodology, which says to tackle anything that takes less than two minutes. And doesn’t it feel so good to cross those things off your list?
6. Play Ping Pong
I play ping pong a couple times a week, and while I feel like I’m slacking off every time my boss catches me at a game, I know (and deep down he does too) that a competitive game of ping pong is great for productivity.
In fact, ping pong, or table tennis if I’m being official, has been called “aerobic chess.” Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at New York University, says that research actually shows that ping pong activates different parts of the brain stimulating overall awareness while also sharpening alertness and decision making.
7. Get the Right Tools
There are countless tools out there that promise to make you more organized, more effective, and more productive. Here are some of my team’s favorites:
Evernote – Stay organized everywhere.
Todoist – Manage tasks across devices.
Custom Gmail Stars – Red exclamation point for important/undone; Green check for important/done; Blue star for keep for later.
Sanebox for Personal Gmail – Everything important goes into your inbox, while everything else is automatically routed to other folders.
Feedly – One place to read and manage blogs and news sources.
Trello – A project management solution that is simple enough you’ll actually use it with just enough features to make it valuable.
8. Put Headphones On
Listening to music helps focus your mind and block out distracting noise. Plus, research shows that classical music helps you relax and can even heighten your ability to absorb information.
Putting on your headphones and jamming to your favorite Mozart Sonata or movie soundtrack will not only help you focus but will also cut down on interruptions because they signal to your coworkers that you’re in the zone and shouldn’t be disturbed.
9. Get Off Email and Instant Messenger
Research shows that people spend anywhere from 25-50% of their work day checking email. How on earth do we make any progress on big projects when we have a constant stream of emails flooding our inboxes?
And don’t get me started on instant messaging and chat applications. As soon as my gchat starts blinking to let me know I have a new message, it’s impossible for me to ignore it. So block off time that you can unplug. And isn’t it faster to have a face-to-face conversation sometimes?
10. Take a Vacation!
I know it can feel impossible to take more than one vacation day off at a time. A study published last year cited that more than 40% of American workers did not take all of their allotted time off.
The truth is your team will survive without you. The study by Oxford Economics reports that time off from work leads to higher productivity, stronger workplace morale, greater employee retention, and significant health benefits. Vacation is a friend to long-term productivity.
11. Be Proud of What You’ve Accomplished
Don’t forget to be proud of your work. If you aren’t excited about your work, no one else will be, and it will suck the motivation right out of you for future projects. Take pride in what you did well, and know that you always have another chance to improve. Perfectionism is your enemy! It’s amazing how much your productivity will change with the right mindset.
When it comes to staying positive, focused, and productive it’s all about the little things. And with these easy tips in mind, you’ll be an unstoppable marketing superhero!