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Simple Ways to be More Productive During Your Workday

Lindsay McGuire
April 9, 2019
Min Read

No matter your title, department, or industry, we are all trying to accomplish more with a limited amount of time. The 21st century is all about maximizing productivity and efficiency. We’ve all felt the strain of not having enough time in the day to get everything done on our to-do list. How many times have you thought, if only I had more time?

There’s no way to increase the number of hours in your day—we’re stuck at 24. But you can change how you manage and use that time. This is the key to becoming more productive in the workplace. By using a combination of technology and tried-and-true productivity hacks, you can make it feel like you have more time in your day.

Here are our top suggestions to improve your productivity during the workday so you can get more done.

Gather information and set project expectations early on.

We’ve all been there: you start on a new project and there’s not much detail. But, you have a deadline to make, so you dive right in. After a while, you're stuck and have tons of questions. Now, you have to spend hours, if not days, trying to connect with all the right people to get answers so you can get your work done.

Eliminate this productivity barrier by gathering information and setting project expectations before you begin. Using a project brief or project request form can be incredibly helpful in securing all the information you need from the get go. This will help your team better communicate project expectations and minimize the need for multiple one-off meetings that can take up your precious time.

Take more breaks.

It might seem like a good idea to pop on some headphones and hunker down into your work for hours on end, but this can actually lead to being less productive. Our brains are not hardwired to focus for incredibly long periods of time. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, excessive focus can actually backfire and cause your brain to become overly exhausted. This leads to a lack of creativity, focus, and accuracy.

To keep yourself fresh and working at an optimal level, take some breaks throughout your workday. Many studies have found that taking short, frequent breaks helps you be more productive. Try taking some time every few hours to step away from your desk, get some movement in, and mentally step away from your work. This will allow your brain time to refresh, reboot, and work better.

Fun fact: The app DeskTime found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes.

Eliminate paper.

Let’s face it—excessive paper use is not only bad for the environment, but bad for your time management as well. Think about all the ways paper makes you waste time: printing, scanning, faxing, copying, and mailing are all small tasks that end up being a major time suck. Not to mention what happens when you have to go on a paper chase. Who created this form? Where in the approval process is that paper request? Did my manager sign the sheet I left on her desk?

Make it all stop by taking your paper forms and document creation online. Imagine how much more productive you can be when all your paperwork is online, in one place. You’ll no longer need to waste time running to the printer, searching for paper forms, trying to decipher handwriting, or continually bugging your coworkers about a document you left on their desk.

Not convinced that paper forms waste that much time? Just looking for files, including the paper kind, can take as much as 40% of an office worker’s time. Now, imagine what you can accomplish once you don’t have to worry about paper files and forms anymore!

Learn more facts and stats on paper usage: https://www.formstack.com/resources/blog-paperless-office

Set some focus time and minimize distractions.

The world is an incredibly distracting place and can easily ruin your focus. When you’re hunkered down in your work, it’s smart to minimize distractions to ensure your brain can easily focus on the task at hand.

But what does it really take to create focus time? Here are some simple tips to increase focus and minimize distractions:

  • Close the tab to your email to avoid constantly checking your inbox every 10 minutes
  • Update your status on your chat app so work friends know not to distract you with a DM
  • Reserve an office or put on headphones to minimize interruptions
  • Choose one project to focus on and make a few goals on what you want to accomplish
  • If working from home, close your door to avoid surprise visits from pets or family
  • Eat a snack and grab a drink before digging in—hunger and thirst can kill your focus quickly

Get organized.

Science proves that staying organized helps increase productivity, persistence, and focus. A study by Harvard found that, “people sitting at messy desks are less efficient, less persistent, and more frustrated and weary than those at neat desks.”

It’s clear that keeping your physical desk clear is an important part of keeping your productive. But, it’s important you don’t forget your digital desk as well. Think about all the programs and tabs you have open on your computer in one moment. Could that be causing you to waste time flipping through screens, clicking through tabs, and searching for exactly what you need?

Take some time to organize your desk and your desktop. Set yourself up for success by ensuring you can  easily navigate your surroundings and access what you need in no time. If things are really messy, just take a few minutes each day to tidy up. At the end of the week, you’ll be amazed at how little effort it takes to make a serious increase in productivity!

Related Article: The 5 Best Web Tools for Staying Organized

Improve your workflows.

Studies have shown that workflows can increase productivity, improve output, and lead to more accurate work. They help automate your day-to-day tasks, as well as streamline processes and set standards. But what exactly is a workflow?

Workflow (noun)
The sequence of steps involved in moving from the beginning to the end of a working process.

No matter your title, industry, or business size, we all deal with multiple workflows each week. Do you need to get a project approved? That’s a workflow. Need to request time off? That’s also a workflow. Launching a new project with a full team in tow? That’s a workflow, too!

By identifying all the steps and people involved in your everyday processes and automating each step along the way, you can save ample time each day. Use tools that help you automate email alerts, data transfer, and communication to improve your workflows. Bringing automation to the repetitive, manual tasks you perform on a daily basis will help you increase the speed and accuracy of your work.

Learn More: 5 Questions to Assess Your Need for Workflow Automation

Feeling ready to tackle your workday and become more productive with these tips? We’re sure they’ll help you focus better, improve productivity, and help minimize common frustrations.

As a workplace productivity tool, we look forward to sharing more tips with you on how to conquer your workplace roadblocks to get more done. Sign up for our newsletter to ensure you get all the tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox each month!

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Lindsay McGuire
Lindsay is the Content Marketing Manager at Formstack, splitting her time between creating blog content, writing reports, and hosting Formstack's Practically Genius podcast. She's a proud graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism (MIZ!) and loves connecting with others on LinkedIn.
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