With constantly buzzing phones, packed workdays, and a never-ending list of personal and professional responsibilities, the mission to increase productivity is always a work in progress. Earlier this year, we provided a few trending strategies for enhancing productivity—from choosing the right playlist to eating more mindfully.
Now that we’re almost halfway through the year, how are you doing on those productivity goals? Whether you’re exceeding your efficiency expectations or need a little extra inspiration, we have four more strategies for eliminating distractions, improving clarity, and increasing productivity every day.
Stay on a single task
As the workforce grows more agile and mobile by the year, we are all becoming more accustomed to multitasking around the clock. We respond to emails while in meetings. We engage in full instant messaging conversations while compiling a spreadsheet. While these work habits are all normal, they’re not the best thing for our productivity.
In “The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance,”neuropsychologist Friederike Fabritius and leadership expert Hans W. Hagemann explore the multitude of negative effects that multitasking can have on performance.
For example, people who are interrupted spend an average of 23 minutes to get back on track and take approximately 50 percent longer to finish their task. Once complete, that task contains about 50 percent more errors. What’s more, research shows that focusing on more than one thing temporarily reduces your IQ by 15 points—more than smoking marijuana or losing an entire night’s sleep.
Instead of overcommitting your attention, focus on one task at a time, removing as many distractions as possible. Another effective tactic is to reserve time on your calendar that’s specifically devoted to a single task or project. If you can’t work through a lengthy block of time without a break (we certainly can’t—we’re only human), try scheduling brief technology breaks, during which you can answer chats, texts, and emails.
Indulge your coffee cravings
For many of us, our days don’t even start until we sip that first cup of coffee. Well according to recent research, that can actually be a good thing. By inhibiting receptors for adenosine (a compound in the brain that causes drowsiness), coffee helps ward off sleepiness and enhance alertness.
But in a recent study of U.S. Navy Seals, researchers discovered that coffee offers benefits far beyond simply keeping you awake. Moderate doses of caffeine (200mg) improved memory, mood, and learning, in addition to boosting reaction time and alertness.
Diving more specifically into workplace dynamics, MIT researchers explored what happened when a bank’s entire call center took coffee breaks at the same time. With increased socialization, time away from workstations, and a surge of caffeine, average call handling time fell by more than 20 percent among lower-performing teams and decreased by eight percent overall at the call center. Based on the study’s results, the manager changed the break schedule at all 10 of the bank’s call centers, forecasting $15 million in annual productivity increases.
Paper-based workflows are a continuous threat to productivity across the organization. From misfiled documents to unnecessary printing, document inefficiencies cost employees 20 percent of overall productivity. Remove these barriers by cutting out paper whenever possible. Instead of outdated processes like printing and scanning, adopt digital workflows that can accomplish the same goals with just a few simple clicks.
The perfect example of obsolete inefficiency is traditional paper-based signing, which demands that employees receive, print, fetch, sign, scan, attach, and email a signed document. The result is more than six hours spent each week approving and signing documents. Due to the inconvenient, time-consuming process of signing, businesses must wait an average of over three days to receive a physical signature—a timeframe that isn’t productive for anyone. Simple workflow tweaks like adopting an eSigning tool help save time on a day-to-day scale, which impacts weekly and annual productivity in a big way.
While most of us are familiar with the physical and mental benefits of exercise, did you know that exercise can have a significant impact on your workplace productivity? A Swedish study discovered that employees who used work time for exercise or similar health-promoting measures accomplished an equal or greater amount of work than their counterparts who worked straight through the entire day. In addition, the employees who exercised during the day reported improvements in self-assessed productivity, meaning that they perceived that they got more done throughout the day.
Even if your company, role, or industry doesn’t comply with a full workout on your lunch break, try quick, simple ways to get the blood flowing. A walk around the neighborhood or a quick set of jumping jacks can still do wonders to spark your creativity and accelerate your productivity.
Are your document habits helping or hindering your daily productivity? Find out now.
This article was originally published here.