Let’s face it, no matter how much you love your job, who wants to be at work more than they have to be? But with so many distractions during the work day, it’s easy to get sidetracked.
Increasing your productivity can do wonders for reducing stress and improving your work-life balance. The key is to work smarter, not harder. Here are five ways to get on top of distractions and boost productivity.
1. Use an app
Doo is an app for iOS that helps you work through your to-do list, one thing at a time. The card-based app allows you to add tasks to your list, then set a time, date and optional alert function for each task. Every event is given a cool little icon that best suits the item.
Whenever you open the app, Doo will show you one ‘flashcard’ at a time to remind you of what you need to focus on, and when it’s due, in the hopes of keeping you on track. The snooze option lets you hide tasks or extend your deadline as it floats on by. Swipe up when your task is complete, or click the check box. Your task list can also be synced with iCloud so you can set yourself reminders even when you’re not in the app.
2. Give yourself a break
According to one study, working in 90-minute intervals is typically best for maximising productivity.If you’ve been concentrating for around an hour and half and your brain is starting to succumb to the fuzzies, don’t try to push through.
Physiological fatigue is a productivity killer, so give yourself frequent mini-breaks to clear your mind. Try walking around the block a couple of times, a few minutes of stretching or meditation, or a trip to the coffee shop.
Taking time out to rest and recharge can help you get your head back in the game, increasing productivity when you return to work.
3. Take control of your time
Constantly getting distracted by your inbox or chatty colleagues? Maybe it’s your habit of checking social media on your phone that eats away at your day.
After an interruption, it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus on the task you were working on – so take control of your time by doing what you can to minimise distractions.
Set allocated windows for checking and responding to emails instead of spending the day putting out fires as they pop up. If you can, shut the door of your office or work from home when you’re busy on a time-sensitive project. If neither of those are an option, don’t be afraid to politely ask colleagues if you can catch up later.
A slave to social? Keep your phone safely out of sight and out of mind in your bag or desk drawer.
4. Be strategic
Are you the kind of person who bounds out of bed at first light ready to take on the day, or someone who keeps hitting ‘snooze’ until the very last minute and doesn’t hit their peak until after lunch?
The time of day can have an effect on your problem-solving, and it’s not always what you might expect. Research has found that night owls can have better insight early in the morning, while early birds can have better insight later in the day. This is because we come at things from a different angle when we aren’t feeling the freshest.
On the other hand, the time of day doesn’t generally have any consistent effects on our analytical problem-solving abilities.
So, at the end of each day, set yourself a to-do list for the next day. If you’ve got a job or project that needs some new ideas and you’re a morning person, try scheduling it for the afternoon and tick off the more analytical jobs in the morning – and vice versa.
5. Get moving
There’s no question that exercise is important for healthy hearts and bodies – but what about healthy minds?
Using your lunch break to hit the gym or go for a brisk walk might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re busy, but it might actually be more beneficial for your productivity than staying chained to your desk.
This is because physical activity can make your brain work better by potentially minimising stress, boosting memory, enhancing creativity and improving your ability to stay focused.
So find a form of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. You’ll be doing your body, your brain and your productivity levels a big favour.
 Tony Schwartz, ‘Relax! You’ll be more productive’, The New York Times, 9 February 2013.
 Jennifer Robinson, ‘Too many interruptions at work?’, Gallup, 8 June 2006.
 Mareike B. Weith, Time of day effects on problem solving: When the non-optimal is optimal’, Thinking & Reasoning, issue 4, vol 17, 2011.
 Ben Martynoga, ‘How physical exercise makes your brain work better’, The Guardian, 18 June 2016.
Viva Energy Australia Pty Ltd (“Viva Energy”) has compiled the above article for your general information and to use as a general reference. Whilst all reasonable care has been taken by Viva Energy in compiling this article, Viva Energy does not warrant or represent that the information in the article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use.
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The article was written based on the Doo app still being available for download as at November 2016.
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