The daily grind takes its toll on everyone.
If you're heading to the same office, five days a week, every week, as most of us are, some of the magic that drew you to the gig is sure to wear off. Things become routine, and it's perhaps inevitable to lose a little of that wide-eyed enthusiasm you brought at the outset.
But if you're managing other employees and trying to grow your small business, maximizing productivity among your staffers—and yourself—should be among your highest priorities. Even if you don't feel like you're on the fast track to burnout (yet), it's important your company culture and workspace make it easy, rewarding and even fun to work hard.
Here are a few ready-made proven fixes to integrate into your office culture that will reinvigorate your work and boost your employees' outputs, for the good of the whole operation.
It's long been billed the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. It's a proven concentration-booster. It expands your attention span. It'll help you be more creative. Remember, kicking the day off with a hearty something to eat doesn't just get your body ready to go. Your brain needs nourishment just as much. If nothing else, making time for breakfast will stave off the wrath of the 10:30 blues—you know the ones, where your growling stomach distracts you until you can take a lunch break two hours later. If you want your employees to buy in, investing in a box of granola bars to keep in a common area of your office will help.
Keep music playing in the background
Almost anyone you ask could quickly identify a few favorite songs, choice fist-pumping music or the tunes that help them relax. And research shows if you harness that power in the right way, you just might see an uptick in productivity. This study on software developers shows that increased efficiency and work quality—not to mention better moods and heightened focus—correlate with softly-playing background music in the office. The same study posits that a better mood leads to greater curiosity, which is particularly true when it comes to creative work (like design).
Surf the Internet
It's true. Taking breaks from work to mess around on the web helps workers decompress and sustain a higher level of productivity than working straight through or option for other time-wasters like texting or making personal calls, shows a university research study out of Singapore. People who browse the Internet to get away from work for a little while are "significantly more productive and effective" than their counterparts, and they report lower levels of mental exhaustion and boredom. Go easy on the next worker you catch taking a YouTube break. Unless online playtime outweighs work time, it could actually be a good thing.
Whisper sweet nothings to yourself
On a strictly individual level, positive self-talk can help you be more confident and productive. Start paying attention to your word choice and opt for milder ones when you're talking about something negative. Or better yet, flip those negative statements into positive ones by getting crafty with your words (focus on "I can" instead of "I can't," for example). If you devote yourself to thinking positively by applying these strategies and being willing to talk—yes, out loud—through problems to calm yourself down, your disposition will be all the brighter for it. From there, your employees will notice and your work environment becomes a whole lot friendlier and more functional.
Stay active on social media
A movement to block access to these so-called "time wasters" might be a bit premature. Social networks have proven to be the new frontier in marketing, branding and outreach, and your business should be cashing in. If you've got employees who are particularly active on their own channels, invite them to join your company's social media team. If they've got a basic understanding and demonstrated personal interest in that technology, chances are they'll be assets in shaping an effective strategy. And as an added bonus: If you assign employees tasks they like (for example, folding your office's social media hounds into your online team), they'll be happier and more personally productive, too.
And don't forget the obvious: The more connections you and your staff make on social media, the wider the social Web for your company.
Get on your feet
Most office workers dread meetings. They say they're useless, counterproductive and too long. As managers know, they're often necessary. But they don't need to be seen as necessary evils. Shortening meetings keeps people engaged and focused, as opposed to reclining in a board room's office chair to daydream or doodle. Opt for standing meetings when it make sense; they've been shown to shorten meetings by more than 30 percent. Think about it this way: Who wants to have petty, nitpicky arguments when they have to stand through it all? That leaves more time for meaningful, productive work afterward.
Image credit: Lululemon Athletica