31 Jan Four top tips to boost your productivity in 2021
As we begin this new year, with many of us at home, there is likely to be a great deal of distraction. First, there’s the worry of how to continue to adapt our business to the ‘new normal’, and then there are the physical disruptions such as the television, family, pets and the never-ending laundry. Oh, and don’t forget the continuous ‘ping’ from our phones now that everyone else is home, and most likely sharing the ups and downs of homeschooling via WhatsApp.
As the line between home and work becomes increasingly blurred, it’s easy to feel lethargic, both in body and mind. In fact, as the pandemic hit last Spring, productivity of the UK workforce decreased by over a fifth (21.7%) year-on-year. So how can we boost our productivity? Here are just four of our top tips to help keep you and your team motivated this year.
Go ahead, eat that frog
As Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first”.
In simple words, start your day with optimum productivity by completing your most daunting yet important work task – the Frog – as soon as you sit down at your desk. Once you have eaten it, productivity is kicked into momentum as your most difficult or time-consuming task becomes a distant memory and you’re spurred on with newfound confidence. Although it is human nature to refrain from tasks because they seem daunting or we do not feel confident undertaking them, as the Eat That Frog Method suggests, the best way to overcome this hurdle is to dive in and prove ourselves wrong, i.e., that our Frog didn’t taste that bad after all.
Spring-clean your home office
It’s a phrase we all know well: tidy space, tidy mind. Increase your work productivity by de-cluttering your home office. Make sure your workspace is dedicated, comfortable, well-lit and used for work only. Ensure your must-have items are easy to hand, whether physically or virtually, to prevent wasting valuable time that results in working out of hours.
And while we’re talking about decluttering, removing distractions that side-track your mind is also key. Switch off your phone and your email pop-ups, and shut the door for a period of clarity. As Cal Newport states in Deep Work, it is essential to have a strict time period for working without changing agenda. Consequently, our productivity thrives as our mind is focussed whilst avoiding work creep and burnout.
Become a Pomodoro master
The human brain isn’t designed to work for long stints at a time, but is much more suited to short sharp bursts of focus, using breaks from work to process information and come up with solutions to problems subconsciously. Using Francesco Cirillo’s Pomodoro Technique, divide your work tasks into digestible 25-minute time slots, followed by five-minute breaks. Covering achievable goals in each of your Pomodoro time slots allows your mind to stay sharp and focused with increased day-to-day productivity.
Engage in mindfulness
Ensure your productivity remains on track by setting up regular time slots to engage in mindfulness. This is the act of maintaining present awareness of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and surrounding environment, and is well known to improve our state of wellbeing, and reduce daily stress. Taking time out to complete five to ten minutes of mindfulness activities – three or four times during the working day – helps our brain to focus better on work tasks at hand. As mindfulness holds the ability to regularly centre our mind within the present moment, worries and rumination become increasingly insignificant, reducing stress levels and burnout while bolstering productivity.
Increased technology has created endless opportunities to engage in flexible and friendly user experiences. Headspace, Mindfulness App and Calm are our favourite apps that provide accessible and comprehensive auditory and visual mindfulness activities that fit well into the working day.
Just like 2020, it looks as though this year may also throw up some unprecedented and unexpected challenges. But as long as we keep our productivity levels in check, we’ll be able to face anything that comes our way. Remember, the secret of getting ahead is getting started!