The Evolution of the Workday: 15 Ways Productivity Shapes Our Hours

You’re not alone if you’re constantly distracted and searching for ways to boost your productivity at work. Whether you work at home or in your employer’s office, you want your working hours to be as productive as possible. However, the constant distractions make it seem impossible to be as efficient as you’d like.

Productivity is less about removing distractions and more about navigating the challenges of workplace disruptions. We’ve picked 15 of the best hacks that will help you streamline your focus and help you get more done.

1. Be Realistic About What You Can Achieve

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Time is an illusion. Everything always takes longer than we think, meaning we overestimate how much we can do and underestimate the time it will take. We don’t consider interruptions and unexpected issues, leading to frustration and over-committing to tasks.

You can be more productive with a shorter daily list and prioritizing tasks.

2. Forget About Multitasking

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Multitasking might seem like a positive way to increase productivity, but it is mentally taxing for the brain. It can cause us to feel overwhelmed, make mistakes, and slow down efficiency.

Focus on completing one task at a time, eliminating the distractions of shiny new tasks. If management persists in asking you to switch tasks, discuss the situation with your manager.

3. Use a Time Management Strategy

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There are proven time management strategies that can help you become more productive by structuring your time. The Pomodoro Technique, for instance, encourages us to work in 25-minute time blocks and then take a five-minute break. Those short refresh breaks enable us to reconnect with our work with a clearer mind.

4. Take Advantage of Productivity Apps

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Multiple free productivity apps are available online. For instance, Clockify times your projects so you can see how much time you spend working on them. The results can be surprising. A job that feels like 30 minutes is often an hour or longer.

Once you know the exact time taken for a project, you can better plan for improved productivity.

5. Know Your Optimum Time For Productivity

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Everyone has a different internal clock for productivity. Some people do their best work in the morning, while others prefer working late into the afternoon or evening.

Start monitoring the times of day when you are most alert and productive, and structure the bulk of your work at the times when you hit your stride best.

6. Decrease Interruptions

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When working on priority assignments, turn off as many external distractions as possible. For example, turn off your mobile device and close your emails and social media.

If your team uses a communication app like Slack, notify them that you check messages in time blocks, such as once an hour, or set the status to “busy.”

7. Break Big Projects Into Manageable Chunks

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It’s common to feel overwhelmed when faced with a large, complicated project. Break the task into bite-sized chunks and tick off each when complete. Using an app like Trello to create a list can be helpful, as you get a visual representation when you put a tick against each task accomplished.

Work on the most challenging aspects of the project first, and then it will feel like a home run to complete.

8. Learn to Say No

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You have a finite amount of time and energy, and your productivity will decline if you take on too much. If you’re working as part of a team, know your limitations and say “no” when additional work will compromise your ability to complete. Ask the team leader what they would like you to prioritize and justify your reasons for not taking on extra tasks.

9. Stay Disciplined When Working Online

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Working online often saves a lot of time, but it’s too easy to get distracted, especially if you encounter challenges with a project. Suddenly, you’re on TikTok, chatting to a friend on Facebook, or checking personal emails. You’ve wasted an hour and are now playing catch-up with your work.

Become aware of your patterns of distraction so you can create a habit of staying on schedule.

10. Moderate Meeting Time

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One of the worst time-wasting activities is meetings. Hopping on a “quick” video call several times daily with a colleague or manager may seem productive, but it rarely is. If possible, make a quick phone call instead of video meetings, send a text or email, or use a messaging app. Cutting back on video meetings can significantly improve productivity.

11. Take Regular Breaks

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Regular breaks might seem counterintuitive, but it helps the brain recharge and increase the chances of being more productive when you return to the task. A break is particularly beneficial if you’re stuck on a complex problem.

Take a walk outside, grab a coffee, and forget about work for five minutes. The solution often suddenly pops into your head.

12. Take Care Of Your Health

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If you’re feeling unwell, stressed, or unhealthy, you cannot work productively. Ensure you sleep well every night, hydrate throughout the day, eat healthily, and exercise at least 30 minutes daily. The mind and the body must work in harmony. It’s too easy to push yourself to the limit and experience burnout.

13. Keep Your Workspace Tidy

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A tidy workspace is a tidy mind. There is nothing worse to decrease your productivity than a desk overflowing with papers and sticky notes pinned everywhere. Take a few moments each day to tidy your desk. Organize by priority and, if possible, use a project management app to help you eliminate the paper.

14. Recondition Your Automatic Responses

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Resist the impulse to respond immediately to notifications when you hear the ping of an incoming message. This becomes habitual behavior that self-reinforces over time. Be aware that breaking the habit might be tricky. The first step is to set a specific time to check messages and emails and turn off notifications.

15. Observe A Procrastination Habit

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Procrastination is not laziness. It’s an active process of choosing one activity over another. Often, it happens when we feel overwhelmed or don’t want to do a task because it is complex or tedious. You might notice you’ll do anything to avoid a task and then suddenly scurry to hit the deadline.

One way to overcome procrastination is to observe your reluctance to do a task and do it anyway. Eventually, the new behavior becomes a habit.

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