by Carthage Buckley, Stress and Performance Coach
To work at your best, you have to remain productive. It is all about getting your most important work done in the shortest time possible while ensuring the quality of your work. You may not realise it but the majority of your daily behaviour, approx. 90%, is habit. You do these things on a daily basis without even thinking about what you are doing. That’s because your brain is designed to be productive. If you had to think about every single action that you take on a daily basis, your brain would probably explode so you form habits which allow you to work through every step of your regular actions without having to think about it. So, in order for you to boost your productivity, you just need to form productivity boosting habits.
7 Unusual productivity boosting habits
The following productivity boosting habits may seem unusual at first but they can help you to make significant improvements in your daily productivity
1. Make your bed
It may seem to be a strange productivity boosting habit to recommend but starting the day by making your bed can give you the productivity boost that you need to start the day. I hadn’t heard of this tip in years until I read it on hubspot recently.
Productivity is all about accomplishment i.e. getting the right things done to the highest standard, as soon as possible. If you are like me you will have realised that you are more productive when you have confidence, motivation and momentum. These factors are increased when you give yourself a sense of accomplishment. The easy way to get a sense of accomplishment is to complete tasks successfully. So, why not start the day by taking the 2 minutes necessary to make your bed properly. By the time you leave the bedroom, you have already accomplished something.
Note: completing tasks is important for gaining a sense of accomplishment however to qualify as a productivity boost, the task must be important. Wasting time completing tasks which do not contribute to the successful achievement of your objectives is not a productivity boosting habit; it is the fundamental productivity destroying habit.
2. Standing desk
If you get too comfortable in your seat, you can start to slow down, switch off and even become sleepy. As the world has switched towards knowledge work, more and more of us spend our days sitting for long periods. This is not good for you and can lead to aches and strains which in turn affect your productivity.
To counteract this problem, many people have made the switch to a standing desk. Their desk has been readjusted to a height which allows them to perform their work standing up. They argue that this allows them to work with better posture and prevents their body and mind from slowing down. It’s not for everybody but the core lesson to take from this is that you need to ensure you include mobility in your day and avoid staying in the one posture for too long.
3. Change your environment
As more and more of us work from home, we can be a lot more isolated. At times, the silence can seem deafening as the atmosphere that comes with working with others is no longer present. You don’t notice the background noise and atmosphere that an open office provides until you have to do without it. There are ways to provide some atmosphere e.g. I am currently listening to a little music as I type to break the monotony of the silence.
Too much of the one situation can be boring and in the long-term; depressing. It is easy to lose motivation and become distracted by things which do not add value to your day. For this reason, I like to change location when I can so that there is something knew. If I have a great deal of reading or writing to do, I relocate to the local library for a change of scene. If it is only a small amount of work, I will relocate to a coffee shop and enjoy a coffee and the atmosphere as I work.
When I return to my desk after being out for a while, I always find that the quantity and quality of my work improves greatly. Changing your environment is one of the simplest but most powerful productivity boosting habits.
4. Work less
Have you ever heard the old saying that ‘a happier worker is a more productive worker’? Well, we are starting to see that it is true. Sweden started the move towards a 6 hour work day. The focus is on trying to ensure that workers are able to spend good quality time with their loved ones. However, firms that have already made the move are not seeing any drop off in performance.
When I first read this story, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. Since implementing a 6 hour work day (I do 3 X 2 hour periods), I have completed far more valuable work than previously.
Consistently working on your most important work is the ultimate productivity boosting habit. When you have a shorter day, you are forced to be more focused and make better decisions. It’s amazing how you suddenly become better at determining which tasks are important and which are not. There will be days when you have to go a little over the 6 hours but in general, you can do all you need to do in 6 hours.
5. Focus on one
Do you know the one term that I hate more than any other in the field of time management? Multi-tasking. I hate it because it is misleading, misunderstood and counterproductive. It has become a buzz word in time management and like most buzz words, it is nonsense.
Here is the simple truth, you cannot multi-task. Multi-tasking suggests that you can focus on more than one task at a time when, in reality, you cannot. What actually happens is that you switch from one task to another, rapidly. However, every time that you switch your focus between tasks, you have to readjust which takes time. You think that you are getting more done but in reality it takes as long and because you are trying to concentrate on more than one task, you are not giving your full, undivided attention to any one task which means that you are likely to make more mistakes. Of course when you add on the time it takes to correct mistakes, multi-tasking takes longer.
The productivity boosting habit you need to adopt is single tasking. It is very simple; work on one task at a time and complete it to the best of your ability. When you are finished that task, move onto the next task. There isn’t a faster way.
6. Take a nap
Even as he ruled the United Kingdom through World War II, there was one productivity boosting habit which Winston Churchill would not forego – his nap in the middle of the day. Imagine that; even as chaos reigned throughout Europe, Churchill insisted on his nap. He understood that his nap allowed his body and mind to recover and he would return to work sharper and stronger.
Many of the world’s great leaders do the same thing. They take a nap in the middle of the day. Your body starts to slow down in the middle of the day. It is ensuring that you recover from the exertions of the morning. So, why fight it? If you take a nap, you can actually maximise the recovery and return to work with more energy.
7. Take a walk
When you are feeling bogged down and you are not thinking creatively, one of the best things to do is to get moving. I walk every day, during working hours, to take my mind off work for few minutes, get some fresh air and get my body moving. By doing something completely different, you give yourself a proper break and when you return to your work, you do so with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh mind. Your creativity and enthusiasm will be replenished.
Productivity boosting habits are simple little daily routines which enable you to make the best use of your time. When you implement these habits on a daily basis, you can start to make significant improvements to both the quantity and quality of the work that you complete. Most of your daily behaviour is governed by habits so it stands to reason that by implementing the right productivity boosting habits, you can ensure that you are as productive as possible. Whether you are working for somebody else or you are self-employed, a lack of productivity can really hold you back. If you are limited in the work that you can complete, you either have to sacrifice your personal time or halt your plans for progression. Neither of these options is desirable. The better option is to work on your productivity habits and ensure that you are getting as much as possible from your day.
About the author
Carthage Buckley is a Stress and Performance Coach who helps entrepreneurs, management and driven professionals to identify and eliminate the sources of stress while developing and implementing strategies to realise their objectives and create a happy, healthy and successful life.
The principle philosophy of Carthage’s coaching is that the individual can shape their own world, rather than waiting for their world to shape them. Working from the inside out, it is perfectly possible for each person to create their own life, allowing them to fulfil their personal desires while living in harmony with the world around them.
Carthage has lived and worked in 5 countries and continues to work with clients all around the world, both in person and via the Internet.