As you look at the clock, you can't believe what time it is. Your workday's over, and you’re beat. But you did it: You made it through all those hours of work …
... and you have pretty much zilch to show for it.
Your inbox is still a zoo, projects aren’t complete, and you’re supposed to go out and do something fun tonight, but you can’t bring yourself to walk away from this pile of work you spent the whole day not getting done.
Sound familiar? I thought so.
Pumping Up Productivity
It’s easy to work all day but get nothing done. From email notifications to unexpected calls, not to mention the joys of informal office distractions like water cooler discussions and catching up with employees back from vacation, we’re experts at not working when we’re at work. So, I’ll ask you this: What if you could still waste time but have a more productive day?
You can. I do. Every day. Here are my seven favorite ways to raise my productivity, all without raising my blood pressure:
1. Dial the phone. Yeah—that thing you check Facebook on and take pictures of your dogs with? It also dials. When the work is piling on, find a few minutes to reach out and connect with another human being. Call a parent, a sibling or just your friend from 8th grade—whoever it is, just make sure they have nothing to do with work. You might just discover that you stay in touch with a whole lot more people and get a fresh breath of perspective inside your hectic, work-filled day.
2. Take a YouTube jam break. I can’t lie: There are some business conversations that can leave me in a foul mood. I prefer to ditch these moods—and fast. I head on over to YouTube and queue up two or three videos of my all-time favorite songs. After 10 minutes or so of sheer musical silliness and good vibes, I’m ready to get back at it. Oh, but there’s a catch: I can’t look at any work while I’m jamming. This means I’m all the more ready to get back to it once my mini jam session is over.
3. Go in search of funny. What’s funny to one person won’t always be funny to another. I encourage you to find a website (or five) that are your go-to sites for your style of laughs. Every hour or so, I ditch what I’m doing and head over to one of my favorite funny sites to get a dose of something lighter. Maybe it’s the latest cartoon at The Oatmeal or a little "Awwwww" over at BuzzFeed. Set a time limit on your gigglefest, but get your giggles on. You might find yourself laughing your way right back to knocking out that pain-in-the-backyard project.
4. Get moving. Seriously. Just get out of the office. That fluorescent glow only makes your wall-to-wall work seem even worse. Head to the gym and take a class, or just get outside for a walk and a daily dose of vitamin D. Everyone knows that exercise creates endorphins, those feel-good hormones, and you can return to the work (that will still be waiting) with a fresh, healthy rush.
5. Leave for lunch. I don’t care if you brown bag it or hit your favorite deli: Get out of the office to eat! Stop eating at your desk. Every time you want a snack or meal, get out. Take a 10-minute walk with your apple. Find a park bench (maybe with some also-need-to-leave-the-office employees) that's perfect for lunch. Take a lap around the building with your afternoon latte. If you stop turning your desk into a kitchen table, your workday might seem a lot less limiting.
6. Make time for non-human breaks. Half the time, I’m working from my home office. It’s also occupied by two dogs and two cats, all of whom want attention and bark or meow at the most inopportune times. When I’m not on calls and they demand my attention, I’ve started listening. We take more walks, we have some time for play. Snacks are doled out. I get my sanity back, and they remind me that I’d do better to be more cat and dog on occasion and less hard-working human.
7. Log on to social media. You knew this one was coming. I consider Facebook and Pinterest to be the ultimate time wasters that add to my productivity—they’re both a combination of every time waster I’ve listed above, from pets to YouTube. But I set time limits on my personal social media time during my workday so I don't waste too much time. Still, it’s rare that I leave work without a smile on my face. And if your Facebook feed isn’t putting a smile on your face, you need new friends.
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