Productivity tricks and hacks are some of the most popular topics of discussion in work circles. Why? To put it simply, many individuals struggle to remain effective throughout their day without falling prey to a lack of motivation, workplace distractions, or the temptation to overwork themselves without breaks.
However, embracing a working style conducive to productivity doesn’t have to be difficult! Below are five simple yet highly effective productivity techniques for remote workers and office workers which can entirely transform your efficiency and workflow management.
- Stay motivated
- Avoid common office productivity pitfalls
- Adopt a Time-Keeping Technique
- Live by lists
- Take advantage of technology
1. Stay motivated
While remote office workers have the luxury of working at times and locations of their own choosing, staying motivated and maintaining high productivity levels in a remote setting are both easier said than done. However, there are a few simple tips that many successful employees swear by in order to keep them consistently productive.
- Wake up early
Waking up early is a common characteristic of many of the most productive and highly motivated people. You get a jump on the day and keeps the clock on your side. Early starts are a great habit to develop, but an easy one to let slip, particularly if you’re not under pressure to get into the office.
- Develop a consistent routine
Consistency breeds success. Working in a dynamic role or working remotely can make it difficult to implement a routine. But it’s still possible to ensure you have a routine that you can follow in almost any setting. For example, you could develop a morning routine along the lines of: wake up early, get in a run or workout, a shower, a healthy breakfast, make your to-do list, set priorities, respond to emails and then get into your workday.Your routine will instill confidence and clarity, and help your brain to keep motivated consistently.
- Dress for success
Sounds like a cliché? It’s a cliché for a reason. Nothing can throw up mental roadblocks quite like sitting at your computer in your pyjamas. As you dress, your brain goes through a process of reviewing your appearance. It can instill confidence, a sense of preparedness and professionalism that helps you to focus and maintain your motivation.It triggers your brain to think “I’m ready for this!”.
2. Avoid common office productivity pitfalls
In every work environment, there’s always a handful of pitfalls that exist which can tank productivity levels. Procrastination, for example, is one of the most common destroyers of office productivity. Other culprits include sacrificing productivity to perfectionism and falling prey to the temptations of boredom and distractions will negatively affect a productive mindset.
So, what’s the best way to beat these challenges?
- Avoiding procrastination
Do you procrastinate? No?! Well done! Your in the minority! Most people struggle with procrastination at one stage or another so if this is you? You’re not alone. So, why do we procrastinate? Lack of motivation, disorganisation, boredom, distractions… there’s no shortage of things that can trip us up. So here are some simple ways to help combat procrastination:
- Create a to-do lists, prioritise them and then structure your day to get through as many tasks as possible
- Complete a couple of easy tasks to help to build momentum and a sense of progress
- Then tackle the most unpleasant tasks first, to get them progressing and help to lift the weight of dread they can cause
- Set deadlines for yourself, that way you can create a bit of positive pressure for yourself and a real sense of accomplishment when you meet them.
- Adopt a time-management technique to help you structure your day into productive bursts with short and effective break periods
- Favouring productivity over perfectionism
It might sound counter-intuitive, but perfectionism can be a real productivity pitfall. Most of us try to produce our best work every time to make sure it reflects our worth. But completing tasks to a good standard even if they’re not 100% perfect helps a project to progress and prevents you from “going down the rabbit hole” and wasting time unnecessarily.Tasks that are completed well, even if not to perfection, can often be reviewed and completed quickly by a second set of eyes or even by yourself in a second, later sitting. This can save time and allow for a more focused, more productive workflow. Here are a few tricks that can help you to combat your inherit perfectionism:
- Evaluate your tasks and wherever you can, delegate tasks to others. Then you can assign yourself to review the work and put the finishing touches on it if necessary.
- Don’t assume your way of solving a problem or completing a task is the “right way”. If something is done differently to how you would do it, ask yourself – “does it still deliver thee desired result?”.
- Again, set deadlines for your tasks. Open-ended projects will fall victim to perfectionism. Accept that there will always be something else that can be done, but often this will just lead to minimal gains and a loss in productivity.
- Dealing with boredom and distractions
At one point or another, everyone faces boredom and distraction in their job, whether you’re working in the office or remotely, whether you’re the Managing Director or an employee.Chatting with co-workers, surfing the net, spending hours on you emails, “quickly” browsing your social media, daydreaming, chatting with friends and family, discussing upcoming holidays… if your mind wants to wander, there will always be a distraction there to oblige. So, it’s important to have the right structures in place to make sure you can avoid them:
- Again, set your to-do lists and structure your time to make sure you can get through them.
- If colleagues are looking to chat, engage for a couple of minutes then tell them you’ve got to get through your lists. Over time they’ll come to realise when you want to focus and when you’re available to shoot the breeze with them (during your lunch break!).
- Avoid social media altogether. Unless you’re actively involved in your company’s online marketing, there’s really no need to even sign into your social media accounts on you work devices. You can also disable notifications for your social media apps on your phone to avoid consistent breaks in your concentration throughout the day.
3. Adopt a Time-Keeping Technique
Adopting a good time-keeping technique is probably the most effective thing you can do to improve your productivity. And one particular time-keeping technique that is world renowned for its simplicity and effectiveness is the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity hack developed by Italian Francesco Cirillo while he was in college. Office workers around the world have turned to their kitchen timers, phone timers, or browser-based timer applications to utilise this technique and redefine their work day.
Named for the popular kitchen timer shaped like a tomato (“pomodoro” in Italian), the Pomodoro Technique requires only a timer and a piece of paper or digital notepad for your to-do list. Its six straightforward steps will revolutionise the way that office and remote workers think about productivity.
- Pick a task to complete from your to-do list.
- Set the timer for 25 minutes (a 25-minute block is called a pomodoro).
- Work on the chosen task until the timer rings. Avoid distractions during this time, and work consistently on the task at hand.
- Return emails, text messages, and phone calls only after the 25-minute block is complete.
- Put a mark beside the task on your list to track this pomodoro and strike the task off if it’s complete.
- Take a 5 minute break, as a reward for a job well done.
- Repeat the process, and for every four pomodoros successfully completed, take a longer break (20 to 30 minutes or so).
The Pomodoro Technique may seem basic at its core, and it is! However, its principles of distraction-free and reward-based working will work wonders to create a more productive workday. There are any number of Pomodoro timer apps available for most devices and platforms.
4. Live by lists
Work location matters little when it comes to task management. Both remote and office workers would be remiss to underestimate the power of a simple to-do list.
To get the most out of your to-do lists, you can benefit from splitting your tasks into three sections—small, medium, and large jobs. Then, arrange the items within each section according to their priority.
This improved organisation will boost productivity by freeing the mind from worry—no more forgetting about a task or a mental note taken earlier in the day. It’s all on the list! Plus, checking items off lists leads to satisfaction and motivation.
5. Take advantage of technology
The best productivity assistant an office worker could ask for already sits in front of them for the majority of their day. Their computer.
Apps used on a daily basis are some of the best tools that employees can use to help them implement some of the tips above such as list-making and the Pomodoro Technique. The Office 365 suite of apps, for example, has everything any employee needs to get a head start towards a productive day.
Use the Microsoft To-Do App and Outlook for personal productivity
Utilise Microsoft To-Do to create task lists and plan each day via task organisation and prioritisation. The To-Do app makes it simple to share task lists with other users, to sync these lists across devices, add due dates, and break down each task into manageable steps.
Many office workers are also underutilising Outlook as a way to manage their day. To-Do lists can be synced with Outlook and integrated as tasks, and Microsoft will even offer suggested tasks at the beginning of each day.
Use Microsoft Planner in the Teams app for collaborative productivity
While Outlook and To-Do are excellent ways for individual employees to stay on track, Office 365 also keeps the productivity of collaborative teams in mind with the capability of using Microsoft Planner in the Microsoft Team app, which are available in Enterprise versions of Office 365.
At the end of the day, technology and software tools like Office 365 may be the true heroes of productivity techniques for remote workers. However, the most success will be found when all of these tips and tricks can be integrated seamlessly into your daily routine.