The world of work has come a long way in the last year. And it feels nothing like what we’d expected.
No 9 to 5 workday, no desk in a tower—Today’s work culture has locked our personal and professional life under one roof.
Now, we don’t mind the change as such. Companies that earlier couldn’t imagine adopting remote work are thriving under the new circumstances. Be it a small software company or a global market player, everyone today embraces processes and technologies to adopt the new work model permanently.
There are, however, challenges that we must meet head-on to achieve a productive work culture outside conventional office space.
- Disruptive communication
- Technology hiccups
- Constant distractions
- General lack of motivation
- Social isolation
And the worst of it all, the stress of an ‘always on’ work culture.
With remote work and WFH becoming business as usual, many employees are putting in longer hours and working harder than ever. As a result, the average share of working adults reporting mental health concerns, anxiety, fatigue, and depression has increased significantly since 2019 according to a report by Kaiser.
It seems like being more productive in the future of work is going to cost employees their sanity unless they learn how to work hard without compromising life and health.
How To Be More Productive At Work: 8 Tips
Work-at-office or work-from-home, here are some clear habits that will make you more productive and proactive at work.
1. Plan your day the night before
You never know how your day will turn out. But that should not stop you from planning for the worst. Sometimes you even try waking up early to list down the tasks that you want to finish that day. But then you get lazy, and all you want to do is lay down on the couch in the middle of the day.
That’s why it is advised to plan your day the night before. When you have your assignments, meetings, and commitments for the next day listed out, you wake up with a fresh mindset to give your day a great start. This planning will make you more productive and stop you from getting drained, and help one avoid having poor quality sleep.
Planning your day the night before is a great way to ensure some productivity.
Bonus tip: Before you call it a day at work, jot down 5-7 things you have to work on the next day. List them using note-taking apps like Evernote or organize them by connecting project management apps.
2. Assign your most productive hours to work
With the adoption of remote work, we have also created an ‘always on’ work culture. It sure offers a sound argument against the classic 9 to 5 work schedule, but its effects show that we need a new work schedule.
To make an ideal work schedule, you need to keep in mind that your energy and focus follow their life cycle during the day.
In an 8-hour work schedule, we’re only truly productive for around 2-3 hours. So we’re more focused and likely to get work done during this time without getting overwhelmed.
So, you have to figure out when you are in your best state of flow during the day. First, find out how you’re productive throughout the day and assign your most productive hours to work—using trending productivity apps. Doing so not only helps you find the right time to get work done, but it will also help you save yourself from getting overwhelmed or stressed from work.
Bonus tip: You can identify the pattern in your everyday productivity at work by tracking each task’s start and end times. To get it right, try syncing up your task management app with your work apps.
3. Do the most important thing first
Out of all the things you list in your to-do, only a few are truly important. So naturally, when it comes to starting your day, it’s better to first begin with the most important thing on your list. This is the most straightforward productivity tip, yet most people prefer not to do so.
There is a lot of confusion and misconception around the idea of getting more work done.
We often think that we should check off the maximum items from our to-do list to be productive in a day – wrong!
Productivity isn’t about how many tasks you mark complete in a day but about which tasks you complete and how much they contribute to your bottom line.
Bonus tip: There are two ways to go about it.
First, label each item in your task management list based on its importance and urgency. This method is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. According to this method, if you labeled Task A as important and Task B as both important and urgent, you can quickly figure out that the latter is the one you should prioritize. Here’s an example,
Second, use tried and trusted to-do list apps to focus on high-priority tasks first. Combine these apps with a few custom automations, and you can create a streamlined workflow to update and organize tasks automatically based on your preferences.
4. Take regular brain breaks
Being too busy is a shared complaint among the modern workforce. It seems like we don’t know how to press the pause button.
Yes, we all have targets to achieve in a day, but there is no point in exhausting yourself by aiming to do everything in one go. It’s just not right.
Scheduling regular breaks into your working day is paradoxically related to the quality of work and your ability to be creative. If you’re not taking any break between tasks, then you’re probably not doing yourself any favors. What you’re doing is keeping yourself busy and staying stressed without any good reason.
So, for the love of your work and your health, take a break!
Take a quick walk in the park, have a snack, or sit idle and listen to your favorite playlist. And if not in the mood for doing anything, you can always take a quick nap.
Bonus Tip: Use the Pomodoro Project Management Technique,
Step 1: Pick a task from your task list
Step 2: Set a timer (25-40 mins)
Step 3: Work till the timer rings
Step 4: Take a short break (5-10 mins)
Repeat the steps four times or until the task gets completed. After that, take an extended break (15-30 mins) and follow the same process for other items on your list. Here’s how the technique has worked for people in real life:
“There were quite a few times, especially in the beginning, when I got tempted to ignore the timer. But when I forced myself to stick to the format, the technique started to gel with me.
I was excited to get as much work done as I could during the 25 minutes interval. I was zoned in on the task at hand and didn’t find myself multitasking or getting distracted like before. ”
5. Automate repetitive work
Starting your day by checking your email, creating events for your upcoming meetings on the calendar, or backing up business-critical information in Google Drive or Microsoft Excel – tasks like these have been a part of our work routine for a long time. So long that it almost seems impossible to go through a day without getting your hands into them.
On the bigger picture, the amount of time and effort into doing these small everyday tasks is too much. According to Business Standard News, the average worker spends over 3 hours a day on manual, repetitive tasks.
The good news is that we are at the peak of our technological advancements. For example, take a look at chatbots – they have saved customer support teams an incredible amount of time and effort by handling end-to-end the more common but time-consuming queries that come in! It is one of the key reasons we could adapt to the new remote working environment so smoothly.
So, when it comes to saving the time spent on repetitive tasks, we have access to technology to set up automations to do the mundane jobs on our behalf.
Bonus Tip: It doesn’t take much to set up email autoresponders or automated contract workflows to cut down all that extra labor. For instance, if you use forms to capture lead information and often prefer to keep a backup in Google Sheets, wouldn’t it be great to update your Sheets automatically? Well, that’s possible. Say you are using Gravity Forms to create and capture lead details. Sync Gravity Forms with Google Sheets, and let all the data flow happen automatically while you focus on nurturing these leads.
6. Quit multitasking
Do you often insist on doing ten things at once? If yes, here’s a little stat for your knowledge.
A study conducted by Stanford University proved that multitasking at work (or life) stresses you and affects your mood and motivation. When continued, it can drop your overall productivity by 40%.
When you’re juggling too many tasks or deadlines simultaneously, it naturally creates a tense work environment where you run back and forth between jobs and never really focus on anything. It further leads to more mistakes, more rework, and a lot of time-wasting.
Bonus Tip: Follow the Pareto’s Principle, aka 80/20 rule—20% of your time and efforts at work contribute to 80% of your achievement results. For example,
- 20% of your customers cause 80% of your business
- 20% of investors own 80% of your company’s assets
- And, 20% of your focused efforts go towards 80% of your work
That means, if you’ve got your hands full, consider cutting down on your task list and delegating additional work to someone else in your team.
7. Communicate with your team more often
Office or no office, team communication is always a key factor for productivity. But it’s not limited to just that.
Good communication and relationships between teams go a long way towards creating happier, less stressful, and more productive teams. You have to maintain basic communication etiquette among team members, whether they’re in-house or outsourced, and keep them on the same page.
Whether you collaborate on a problem-solving challenge or catch up for a virtual coffee break, keeping the conversations going within the group is a great way to relax and divert your energy from a tedious schedule.
Bonus Tip: Have daily stand-ups for a quick status check. Connect your team over a video/audio call for small talks and sharing updates on the work front. You can also consider adding short team-building activities to your standup plan weekly or monthly.
8. Do personal chores in their own time
Setting a healthy boundary between work and regular life is more important now than ever.
Working from home comes with many perks, but it quickly becomes a challenge if you don’t keep your work commitments away from your chores and interests. 30 percent of the remote workforce struggles with the same problem as you’re reading this article.
Overcoming this challenge requires you to put some of your best work skills into practice. This includes time management, communication, and commitment.
The most effective way to start will be to have a dedicated (decluttered) office space. You can then divide your day evenly between work and personal chores and bound yourself to a simple rule that you won’t do personal tasks during working hours and vice versa.
Bonus Tip: Pick an appropriate time to unplug from work and communicate the same to your coworkers and colleagues so that no one tries to reach out to you for work during your time.
Also, to reduce the temptation of checking your phone during working hours, turn off the notifications for non-essential apps (group texts, social media, e-commerce, etc.).
Even during our best times, it was challenging for people to balance work and life. Of course, things will be tenser with a crisis and a completely new work culture. But every new challenge is an opportunity in disguise.
In this particular case, the opportunity is to be more productive with improved work habits.
Yes, we know you’re missing going to the office—we do too. But working from home, when done the right way, has its perks. The tips and hacks we have provided here will empower you to balance your work and life better.
So, why the wait? Be as productive working remotely as you were working from the office, and more.
Shalini Singh is a creative writer and product marketer. She loves to speak her mind with clarity and logic and mainly writes on topics at the intersection of modern business culture and technology. When she is not writing, she is exploring a new delicacy or just sitting on the couch scrolling through random posts on Instagram. Currently, Shalini is a Content Marketer at Automate.io