Let’s be real: We’d all like to do more in less time. But many of us aren’t as productive at work as we’d like. With all the distractions surrounding us—like Facebook, Instagram, and chatty cubicle-mates (looking at you, Cathy)—it’s harder than ever to stay on top of our to-do lists.
At Fitspot, we interact with employees in all kinds of office environment (and of course, we have plenty in our own!) so we know all about the distractions. That’s why we’ve dug into the research to find proven productivity hacks to increase your focus and get more done, every day. Keep reading for 15 simple yet helpful productivity tips to help you become even more of a rockstar at work.
1. Follow the two-minute rule. Created by productivity expert David Allen, this rule essentially says: If a task lands on your desk or inbox and can be handled in two minutes, do it right then. If you have a task that’ll take more than two minutes, delegate it to a later time.
2. Time block. On your Google calendar or Outlook calendar, create an “appointment”—a timeframe—for your various projects for the upcoming day or week. Allow cushions around the timeframes to account for unexpected delays.
3. Close those tabs. One researcher found it takes your brain about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into to the task at hand when you switch between multiple projects (or Facebook, Google, and Twitter). Other studies show that multi-tasking literally drains your brain of its energy reserves. Bottom line: Stop multi-tasking, once and for all.
4. Jot down a fresh to-do list every morning. This helps prime your brain to get into work mode and decide which tasks are your priorities.
5. “Eat the frog.” This saying suggests that you should tackle the most important (and/or most daunting) task of the day first, above all else. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, calls it putting “first things first.”
6. …Or take care of the “housekeeping” tasks first. If the tip above isn’t your thing, or if it doesn’t apply to your work, then take the first 20 to 30 minutes of your day for low brain-power but essential tasks, like answering routine emails or pulling data that you need to parse through later.
7. Get up earlier. You might be amazed at how much more you can accomplish if you wake up an hour earlier.
8. Move your body. Doing these stretches at your desk can help increase blood flow and the flow of oxygen to the brain. Have more time? Take a stroll around the block. Or if your company offers Fitspot workouts, make sure to sign up for the next session!
9. Outsource. Many of us are perfectionists who like to take care of everything on our own (we get it). But in an age when almost everything is available on demand, there’s no reason not to delegate certain tasks. Look into a meal delivery service for lunch; ask an intern to draft emails or enter data; or consider asking a coworker to help out on a time-consuming project.
10. Limit meetings to one hour. This respects your colleagues’ time—and your own. If you absolutely need to hold a follow-up, do so at a later time.
11. Declutter your desk. A clearer workspace can help clear your mind.
12. Take breaks. Research finds that people who take 15-minute breaks every couple of hours are more productive. But that doesn’t mean surfing the web. Take a walk, read an (actual) book, or have a healthy snack.
13. Unsubscribe. Is your inbox overflowing—and overwhelming? Try using a service like unroll.me or simply click unsubscribe on newsletters you never read—they’re just unnecessary distractions you don’t actually have to deal with.
14. Know that good is good enough. Another note for all your perfectionists: Ensuring everything is “perfect” is the enemy of productivity. Do your best on every task thrown your way, but when you’re done, move on.
15. Drink some java. If all else fails, caffeine is your friend! (As long as you can tolerate it.) Coffee often gets dragged for being unhealthy, but many studies have shown that it’s actually great for your body and brain, helping your get focused, stress less, and even feel happier.
Sammy is the COO and Co-Founder of Fitspot. Sammy is an attention-to-detail aficionado who brings a blend of grit and imagination to the zillions of tasks that confront every startup. She has always thrived in operations, working as a production assistant in LA and managing operations in the fashion industry. Sammy wears many hats at Fitspot, doing everything from sketching app screens to managing the customer experience. Sammy has a B.F.A. from the University of Miami, and hails from Australia.