8 ways to help your productivity at work


With the multitudes of distractions we face, notifications buzzing on your phone, pinging emails and high-pitched laughter from the latest office prank flowing across the open plan office, it’s sometimes hard to imagine how one does focus, be productive and get any work done.

When I say ‘be productive’, I mean it in terms of how efficient you are at getting work done. For example, writing this blog post while attempting to defrost my fingers by clutching my coffee is a challenge in itself, let alone colleagues scootering around my desk, and ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams blasting (for the third time), to my bosses phone quacking (yes quacking) – it’s all rather distracting and causes me to lose my train of thought. The result is low productivity.

So here are 8 ways to increase your productivity at work:

  1. 1. Sit in a new environment
    Getting away from your desk can really help you think outside of the square. It can really energise you and put you into a ‘new’ mode of thinking. Take your laptop or notepad and sit in another room or café – this will not only allow you to move away from normal desk distractions but being in a new environment also helps you to stop and think differently. If you can’t get away from your desk (as silly as it sounds) try rearranging your desk. Why do you think women always rearrange their homes? They subconsciously do it as it energises them and switches their brains into the ‘new’ mode.
  2. Caffeine helps
    Ok this may only work for some of us but coffee is great (and tea if you’re a Brit or that way inclined). This theory is often debated, however, some studies do show that coffee can help you think and focus. Regardless of the debate, as a coffee lover I love tackling a new task with a coffee in hand. Of course, there are the pros and cons of caffeine, so if you’re a health junkie try eating an apple as they are apparently just as good as a coffee!
  3. Light
    Light you say – if you’re at work take a look above you. What type of lights do you see? Let me guess – fluorescent lights! From a stint as a Lighting Consultant, I can tell you it does make a difference which light you work under and unfortunately, the most common lights in a work place are fluorescent tubes. Fluorescent lights are one of the worst to work under as they can flicker and omit UV rays. So you can try to petition for new lights or consider a halogen desk lamp as they are made for task lighting.
  4. Problem-solving while walking
    If you have a problem to solve, try going for a walk and think out the situation. Getting away from your desk and doing some exercise will get the oxygen flowing and help your brain to get into the problem-solving mode. It can help to take a small note pad for your walk to write down bullet points/notes, so you don’t forget them on your return.
  5. Keep warm
    Research shows that if you are cold you are more likely to make mistakes as you are putting too much energy into keeping yourself warm. If you cannot convince the office to change the temperature perhaps they will reconsider if you start wearing your ski jumpsuit to work with your favourite beanie (with a pompom on top, of course) and carry around a hot water bottle.
  6. Stopping checking your emails as they come in
    Emails are a great cause of distraction (as are phone/app notifications) and greatly affect productivity. Consider closing your email and putting your phone away, so you can focus directly on the task without those pinging, vibrating distractions.
  7. Listen to music to improve productivity
    Listening to music while working on tasks can help motivate you and give a bit of a rhythm to your work. If you aren’t allowed music in your office (or have quite a different taste to your colleagues) try listening to music on your headphones. Apparently classical is the stuff to listen to if its complex thinking work you’re doing, and hard rock if you need to get something repetitive done fast. I admit it can be unsocial to have headphones on, but sometimes it is necessary for the task at hand. If you find music distracting, consider listening to coffitivity, which is recorded cafe sounds. Sounds pretty silly I know but it works especially if you are trying to be creative. Coffitivity state that ‘the mix of calm and commotion in an environment like a coffee house is proven to be just what you need to get those creative juices flowing’.
  8. Manage desk interruptions
    Encourage colleagues to make a meeting with you, send an email with their request (as long as you don’t keep checking your emails when they pop into your inbox this can work) or have a project tool where they can submit requests rather than interrupting you at your desk each time they need something.

Some of these tips will help with general productivity, others are worth considering when you are struggling to focus on a particular task, and then for some you will just have to work on your power of persuasion to turn the heating up in the office or get your boss to change that annoying ring tone. What is your number one trick to being productive at work or tackling that colleague’s annoying ring tone?