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How to be more productive at work

Rob Harris
Written by: Rob Harris
Length: 7 min read
Date: 30 Apr 2024

Do you find it hard to concentrate at work? Does it feel like you are distracted all the time?

You are not alone.

85% of workers are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work, resulting in $7 trillion lost in productivity found by Gallup in State of the global workplace. That’s a lot of money lost to distractions, fatigue and disinterest. In this article I am going to offer you six ways to improve productivity. 


Morning routines

There are literally hundreds of articles, books and videos supporting the importance of having a morning routine. There are many different ways to make a morning routine and it changes from person to person. 

My personal morning routine is as follows:

  • Wake up around 7am (only look at the time on my phone - I don’t sleep with an alarm).
  • Make myself breakfast - usually it's a mix of cereal, nuts and fruit. This is usually when I check my phone for personal emails and any other pressing matters.
  • Meditate for at least 22 minutes and write in a gratitude journal.
  • Read one inspirational article.
  • Start work.

I haven't always had a routine. In fact, I only started this one this year and I have found that it greatly reduces my stress in the morning. 

Practicing meditation or mindfulness can also be a very good addition to your morning routine to boost your confidence and appreciation for life.

Meditating or going for a walk in the middle of the day could also be beneficial for sufferers of attention fatigue, a neurological symptom that occurs when the inhibitory attention system, that part of the brain which allows us to concentrate in the face of distractions, becomes fatigued.

If you are finding it hard to come up with a morning routine has a plethora of morning routines by different people. If you need some inspiration, this is the place to go. 


Start off slow

Start your day with a task that will only take a small amount of time. Breaking your tasks down into bite-size chunks will give you a sense of accomplishment throughout the day, therefore, boosting your productivity and joy at work.

Tim Deming (a Writer for CNBC & Business Insider) wrote about his experience of writing one rubbish story at the very start of his day to help him get into a flow state. A flow state is when you deeply focus on what you are doing. Anyone can achieve a flow state in just about anything they are doing with the right mindset and interest in the task at hand.


50 minutes on 15 minutes off

Our brains are not equipped to continually concentrate effectively for more than around 50 minutes at a time. Keri Wington (a journalist for the Washington Post) writes about doing 55 minutes of work and then having a half an hour rest boosted her productivity in her article Your ability to focus may be limited to 4 or 5 hours a day. Here’s how to make the most of them.

Similarly, in Deep Work by Cal Newport, a 2008 journal titled Psychological Science an experiment was conducted where they split people into two groups, one group was sent to walk in nature and the other group in a busy city. They found that after 50 minutes of walking through a busy city, the person’s attention level was lower than the people who walked through nature. 

Although you may be thinking “oh I have so much to do, I don’t have time for a break” bear in mind that you may be more productive if you took one.


The power of saying no

I know what you are thinking, “I can’t say no to my boss”. The truth is yes you can and should. Simply put, you are not a superhero; you cannot be everywhere all the time. 

How many times have you said yes to that extra meeting, or yes to a new idea when you simply have no time for it? Probably more than once. This is adding more pressure and stress to your already busy day. 

You don’t have to say a direct NO! That would be hard for you to say and your boss to listen to. Instead, take the time to formulate a response that is a kinder way of saying no. 

Marie Forleo, a New York Times bestselling author, has come up with 19 ways you can say no to different situations. Below is an example of how to say no to your boss from her guide for saying no.

“I hear how important this is. Can we take a look at my current priorities together? Because there’s a lot in motion right now and I want everything to be done right. So I’ll either have to press pause on other projects, or we’ll need to find someone else to take this on.”

Why does it work? The question, “Can we look at my priorities?” demonstrates that you’re on top of things. It also reminds your boss that there are consequences to shifting your focus. 

You can also practice saying no in your life outside of work to boost your wellbeing and stress levels, thus affecting your work life too. 


Turn off those annoying gremlins on your phone aka Notifications

Having your phone near you at all times is both helpful and distracting. My advice? When you need to concentrate, switch your phone to airplane mode, lay it face down on your desk, or even better leave it in your jacket. 

Chris Haydon, our Social Media Manager, gave a skillshare to all of us at FINALLY showing us how to reduce screen time and distractions. 

The key takeaways from this skillshare include:

  1. Swap out the apps that sap your time, I am talking about Facebook, Instagram, TikTok (especially this one), and messaging apps. Swap them for apps like Spotify, Meditation (CALM), and audiobooks. 
  2. Set app/phone limitations. You can do this easily in settings, choosing which apps on which days/times you’d like to limit.
  3. Mute those messaging apps especially if you are in a group. 
  4. FOMO - Don’t let the fear of missing out get to you.
  5. And the most important thing is to prioritise your time.

Reduce the noise around you

Listening fatigue is a real thing and can happen when you have been exposed to a lot of noise for a long period of time. 

This can include: listening to music, a noisy office indoors and/or outdoors, a noisy household, too many meetings (especially on Zoom or Facetime).  

To continually listen and concentrate on different tasks throughout the day can be very straining for the brain. By reducing the amount of noise around you will allow your brain to concentrate more on what's important. 

Ways to combat this include:

  • Make a home office that’s not your sofa or kitchen (or the places others will be). 
  • Wear noise-cancelling headphones
  • Take a walk alone away from noise or anyone else.
  • Listen to easy music such as meditation music or lo-fi. 
  • Use a quieter/different room at the office (if available).
  • Ask others to be quieter (I know it's not the ‘cool’ thing to do but you are in a work environment and your colleagues should understand that).
  • Take a break. In my past and current workplaces, most people struggle to take a break, working through their lunch and leaving late.

Overview: 6 ways to help you be more productive at work 

  1. Make a morning routine.
  2. Start off slow and easy.
  3. 50 mins on 15 mins off.
  4. The power of saying no.
  5. Turn off notifications.
  6. Reduce the noise around you. 

I hope you found this guide useful and as always feel free to reach out to us at FINALLY for any of your marketing needs. 

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