You’re breaking the rules. Yes, you. Productivity guidelines say stay away from internet surfing like this. But, hey, while you’re here, you might as well learn a thing or two. Especially with the new year and all those…ahem…resolutions you made.
Here’s the deal: We all want to be more productive and do more with less time. Instead of telling you what we think you should do, we went to the experts. We’ve gathered the top trending articles about productivity in 2015 from TechCrunch, Inc., Business Insider, Fast Company, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and LifeHack.
We did the math to calculate the top productivity tips, tricks, and hacks of 2015. Here’s the list, ascending by popularity:
1. Eliminate email & use the right tools
Today, email is becoming more of a time killer than a helper. “File sharing, office communicator, remote access, and mobile devices allow us all to stay connected in this hyperconnected world,” said Robert Herjavec, in Fortune, ‘Shark Tank’ star Robert Herjavec’s top 5 tips for productivity.
Get your team set up with the right tools to stay connected and keep the productivity flowing. And, please, minimize or eliminate email from your work life. “Most super-productive people only check their email two or three times a day,” said Amber Brenza in Huffington Post, 7 habits of super-productive people.
“Email is a 40-year-old technology,” said Natalie Walters in Business Insider, 3 ways you’re screwing up your productivity at work – and what to do instead, “so if you’re using it for more than 30% of your day, then something is definitely wrong.”
2. Schedule & prioritize your work and day
Herjavec suggests planning for two weeks out to make sure you are aware of fast approaching deadlines. “If you don’t know what’s coming up on the horizon, it’s easy to lose sight of your goal,” he said.
Also set aside time to do a full calendar review six months or a year out to make sure you’re on track with your yearly goals.
“Choose only five priorities each day and stick to them strictly,” said Bo Nardin on Lifehack, 10 simple productivity tips to organize your work life. “This will make you a proactive person — you won’t be distracted by 100 other ‘urgent’ things.” Pizza…
3. Keep meetings short & focused or eliminate meetings altogether
Stephanie Vozza in Fast Company, 15 habits that will totally transform your productivity, suggests keeping meeting agendas to three items or less. Herjavec advises planning all your meetings in a row to be most efficient.
Or try to eliminate meetings altogether. “Most meetings can be summarized in a two-line email.” said James Altucher in TechCrunch, The 6 things the most productive people do everyday. Or put that pedal to the productivity metal by discussing it in a chat room. Then again, we’re biased toward chat.
4. Eat healthy foods, sleep well & exercise
Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand found that a daily 20-minute run helped lab rats complete problem-solving tasks more quickly than their non-exercised counterparts. FWIW – you probably shouldn’t take your rats jogging with you. The internet thinks it’s a bad idea.
“If possible, build in set times during the week for taking a walk or going to the gym,” said John Rampton in Inc., 15 ways to increase productivity at work. “Getting your blood pumping could be just what’s needed to clear your head and get your focus back.”
What you eat is important, too. “Snack on foods high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants throughout the day,” said Kristen Marquet in Entrepreneur, 7 simple tips to boost your productivity at work. “Granola and berries will keep you full and focused. Sugary foods and energy drinks keep you going only for a short time.” That’s right. Choose foods that will give you more sparkle and less fade.
And don’t forget your shuteye. Make sure to get between seven and nine hours of sleep daily to stay at your optimal productivity level. “Getting enough sleep and exercise is the key to clear thinking, more creativity, and increased energy — which, in turn, make you more productive,” said Brenza.
5. Track & limit time on tasks into 90 minute intervals
Breaking your work into segments with time limits will help your focus. “Researchers at Florida State University have found elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus.” said Rampton.
This tactic will also push you to perform most efficiently. “If you want to increase your productivity before you start…any new task, put a time limit on your work,” said Nardin. “You will see how effective you will become after setting a specific amount of time to do the job.”
6. Take initiative & follow through using self-imposed deadlines
In the same vein, productivity hackers suggest making self-imposed deadlines that keep you motivated without the influence of others.
“For open-ended tasks or projects, try giving yourself a deadline, and then stick to it,” said Rampton. “You may be surprised to discover just how focused and productive you can be when you’re watching the clock.”
Following through can be tough. Brenza suggests “zeroing in on a single action rather than the entire task puts the wheels in motion.” Baby steps, baby steps.
7. Focus on one thing instead of multi-tasking
Multi-tasking is not as glamorous as we might think. In fact, it’s actually harmful for our work. “Studies have shown that people who try to do two or more activities at once end up becoming distracted, and the quality of their work suffers,” said Marquet.
“Multitasking hurts productivity because the brain cannot give its full attention to more than one task at a time—it’s why texting while driving is so dangerous,” said Walters.
Try letting one bird live and see how much you get done.
8. Create a clean, clutter-free work environment
You may not even realize it, but clutter is affecting your work productivity. “Visible files remind you of unfinished tasks,” said Vozza. “An unread book is temptation for procrastination. Even if you don’t think you’re noticing the disorder, it hurts your ability to focus.”
People with neat offices are more persistent and less frustrated and weary. A recent study in Harvard Business Review found that a clean desk helps you stick with a task more than one and a half times longer.
Adding the right design elements can also be beneficial. “Some research shows outfitting an office with aesthetically pleasing elements—like plants—can increase productivity by up to 15 percent.” Rampton said.
9. Take regular 5-10 minute breaks
Taking breaks regularly is more than just a treat. It’s imperative for concentration and focus. And take it from us, checking Reddit doesn’t count.
“Brief interludes from work can actually increase your productivity by getting your blood flowing and allowing you to return to your work with fresh eyes,” said Marquet.
“Studies show that your brain’s effectiveness significantly decreases after 45 minutes,” said Nardin. “Make a habit of having five- or ten-minute breaks every 45 minutes. Stretch your body and allow your brain to regenerate.”
Take a quick walk, stretch your legs, or just let your eyes rest closed and breathe. We suggest the Headspace app to clear your mind midday.
10. Minimize interruptions & distractions
Last on the list, but certainly not the least important, is to minimize distractions. But it’s not easy when there are people around, phones ringing, and emails to read.
“Minimizing interruptions may mean setting office hours, keeping your door closed, or working from home for time-sensitive projects.” said Rampton.
To stay focused and on topic, Vozza suggests putting “nonagenda thoughts into an ‘idea parking lot.'” That way you still have the idea and can return to it, but don’t lose valuable concentration.
We’re wishing you a productive and successful 2016 and beyond! We hope you enjoyed the list…now get back to work.