10 Productivity Tips to Help You Work at Your Best

We all want to be as productive as we can with as little effort as possible. However, it’s important to not only be productive, but also efficient. When we work, we need to have the resources to get us through our day in the best way possible.

In this article, I introduce 10 productivity tips to help you work at your best without requiring excess effort. For each item, I explain why it matters and what you can do to take advantage of it.

Productivity Tips: Intro

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1) Stay positive

It’s always a good idea to stay positive in all areas of your life, and work is no exception. Positivity helps with your motivation and drive throughout the day. It also improves the quality of your work. If you have a negative attitude about anything while you’re working, it distracts you and can hinder your ability to get things done and properly.

What you can do when positivity isn’t your strong suit:


2) Make your office space ergonomic

By investing in ergonomic office furniture and supplies, you’re both improving productivity and protecting your physical health. Too often, we sit in chairs that affect our posture and cause serious harm to our back over time. When we use keyboards and mouse pads that don’t provide wrist support, we risk harm to our hands and wrists, which can then lead to lower productivity.

Although purchasing ergonomic office chairs can get pricey, it’s well worth the investment. These chairs, when selected wisely, can last a really long time, and the physical difference from your other chair is amazing. You’ll have a much higher chance of improved work efficiency than if you stick to a standard chair.

The same goes with your desk supplies. The Mayo clinic provides a great graphic on this subject that I recommend you check out if you want more information about the value of ergonomics.

See some examples of these products on Amazon:

Keyboard

Mouse pad

Office chair


3) Get enough sleep and reserve time for exercise

It’s pretty clear by now that getting a good night of sleep is important. We are all at least aware of that. The next step is to act on it. In my opinion, the number of hours for each person varies. Some people can do their best work with only 6-8 hours of sleep or less. Other people need more like 8-10 to be at their best. Find the range that works for you and stick with it.

As for exercise, this is a big issue for many of us because it requires a time commitment on its own, which can actually affect our workday, in a way. However, there are ways you can get exercise without actually working out. For example, choosing stairs instead of the elevator is a wise decision if you’re serious about staying healthy. It’s not always an option, but when it is, go for it.

Jim Roose of Garage Gym Builder published the Best Fitness Trackers of 2016 article worth checking out if you’re interested in that sort of investment. Thankfully, you can find equivalent tools for free or low cost in your phone’s app store. I use the Garmin Vivoactive HR. It’s an amazing and motivating smartwatch. I want to track my steps, distance, and active time. Garmin does all that for me and more. If you want to go heavy duty like me, buy a wearable fitness tracker, such as the Garmin I mentioned, a Fitbit device or the Apple Watch.

No matter what you choose, getting exercise throughout the week is essential because it gives you the energy and stamina to work productively throughout the day.


4) Find a system for taking timely, efficient breaks

Tomato Timer

Sometimes, all it takes is for you to stand up and walk a bit. That helps you refresh your body, but it also refreshes your mind. It can then lead to better work and a faster output because you aren’t exhausted from staring at your computer screen for hours straight.

I use the Pomodoro technique for my breaks. There are a ton of apps and websites out there that offer this technique, but only a few have made the cut here.

If you prefer a website version, try Tomato Timer.

If you use an Android phone, experiment with ClearFocus.

As for the iPhone, the Pomodoro Timer might work well for you.

Find the service or solution that is most helpful to you, and stick to this system while you work each day. You’ll see that these breaks can actually help you get more done despite the interruptions.


5) Invest in a second monitor

Dell published a great study on the value of dual monitors in the workplace. It really does help with productivity, but it’s not for everyone. There are a bunch of articles out there with opinions for or against dual monitors. I, personally, think they are a great idea for younger generations because we can easily navigate new technology and many of us have the ability to multitask efficiently.

If you’re not sure whether this is worth the investment, do a Google search, read the Dell study, and try it out for yourself.


6) Look at your to-do list one day at a time

Todoist screenshot
Todoist screenshot

There are benefits of having a paper and pen to-do list. You can design it so that your task list looks less overwhelming, and you don’t have to learn new software.

However, if you are going to go with the software approach, I highly recommend using an app that offers a “Today” view. It should then hide all the other tasks that could potentially overwhelm you. This gives you the ability to focus on what matters that day.

I use Todoist for my task management. I love it. I do have the pro version, but I consider it worth the expense.


7) Track your time spent on different types of tasks

Some tasks are quick. Some tasks repeat. The best thing to do to ensure a productive task schedule is to find out how long it takes you to complete certain types of tasks.

For example, it could take you 10 minutes to schedule your tweets for the week. By knowing this, you’re better able to keep a schedule that allows room for that work.

If you want help tracking your time spent beyond simply billing hours, I suggest you look at either Tracking Time or Rescue Time. They both have the capability to help you with this process.


8) Take advantage of transition or down time

Transition time pretty much means your commute to and from work. If you use public transportation, which could involve a long time period, you could take full advantage of it to get work done. Sure, you could use the time to chill, read or do whatever it is to get you mentally ready for the day, and that works too. I think it doesn’t have to be exclusively one or the other.

Examples of down time can include lunch breaks, evenings and weekends. While I am a huge believer in unplugging after work hours, sometimes we just have to get something done before the next work day when it’s urgent enough. Sometimes it’s necessary to work on a task during personal time so that you don’t get overwhelmed the next business day.

One thing is for sure: don’t work on trivial things that can wait. Your personal time is exactly that. It’s “me” time, so let that time be for that purpose when possible.


9) Use phone app and website blockers

If you have an iPhone, customize the Do Not Disturb feature in your phone’s settings. I’m not aware of its equivalent in Android phones, but experimentation can be of great benefit if you’re interested in that type of feature.

There are also browser apps that can block websites for a specific time period, such as social media sites, so that you don’t get distracted. Chrome has an extension called StayFocusd that’s worth checking out. It seems to have many happy users. PC Mag even wrote a review of this browser extension that is quite positive. When it comes to Firefox, Leechblock is your best bet.


10) Set deadlines and goals

Alarms

Set alarms for approaching deadlines and overdue tasks. Make sure your alarms give you enough last minute notice to get the assignment done. Use an app, such as Todoist (above), to help you with this process.

Create goals for each day or week with a reward for achieving them. If you want to work on the first tip I provided about staying positive, goals can really help with that.

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Summary

1) Stay positive

2) Make your office space ergonomic

3) Get enough sleep and reserve time for exercise

4) Find a system for taking timely, efficient breaks

5) Invest in a second monitor

6) Look at your to-do list one day at a time

7) Track your time spent on different types of tasks

8) Take advantage of transition or down time

9) Use phone app and website blockers

10) Set deadlines and goals