Even though remote work has surprised many of us with how productive we can be while working from home (6 out of 10 of us have reported an increase in productivity since the pandemic hit), there’s still room for improvement.
Studies show that under 60% of an employees’ time at work is spent unproductively.
How can you motivate yourself, then, to work more efficiently whether at home or in the office?
Here are 10 ways to boost productivity at work that are actionable and easy to do.
1. Ambient Work Spaces
Working from home doesn’t work for everyone.
The lack of accountability that comes from being around other people and, especially, your boss can make distractions while working remotely too difficult to resist.
Or, working from home does work but teams are missing the spontaneity that comes from serendipitous meetings. They’re craving the unplanned encounters and creative exchanges that don’t happen when everyone is physically separated.
Breakthroughs can’t be planned either.
The use of tech to grow the virtual office
These pseudo-offices use tech to give people the sense of being with others.
From the Zoom always-on full-time video link to your teammates to the 2D virtual office plan of Teamflow to the mobile app of Perch, these ambient environments offer the next best thing to being in a real office.
Ambient remote offices sound weird, and they are, but they could also spell the future of remote work.
While we’re on the subject of tech, let’s continue the conversation by talking about another trend that helps with work productivity: automation.
Along with ambient remote offices, tech advances in automation also deserve a mention on our work efficiency list.
There’s a movement towards automating as much of the work day as possible.
Whether you’re looking to improve productiveness at the organizational or individual level, consider the following applications.
No matter what you do for work, there’s a way to automate the mundane tasks you do every day.
When communicating with coworkers and organizing meetings, applications like CalendarHero will do the heavy lifting for you.
Traditional ways of automation
If you’re not a fan of programs and applications, we’ve got good news for you.
An automated system doesn’t need to be computerized. Consider building a Kanban board on a corkboard or whiteboard as a visual way to manage projects.
An automation reality check
Of course, you may not be able to automate everything. That’s the realm of hopeful posts on Reddit. You may, however, use applications to do repetitive tasks that normally eat up your work hours.
If you can, automate your work.
3. Cut down on meetings
It is almost a running joke that even in today’s work-from-home life, people still attend too many meetings.
Social media is strewn with photos of full Google calendars and Zoom fatigue has become part of our modern lexicon.
The best advice for improved mental health and increased work productivity is to clear your calendar.
Scour your calendar for meetings you do not need to attend and switch your RSVP to ‘No’.
Communicate with your team about why your time would be better spent working on something else. Then, come up with a plan to make sure you stay informed on what came out of the meeting.
It’s also a good idea for you to incorporate meeting-free days into your schedule.
Set a boundary, let your teammates know your intention behind your free day, then stick to the plan. Learn to say no to every invite that comes your way. Better still, use calendar blocks to automatically decline meeting requests on that day.
When you simply can’t say no to work, however, it’s time to delegate.
When your work piles on past the point of what you can effectively manage, it’s time to delegate.
Remember that you’re part of a team. No one is meant to do everything on their own. Encourage colleagues to feel comfortable enough to ask for help when they need it.
The key to delegating is to let go of the work completely once you’ve given it over to someone else. Micro-managing serves no one and does little to improve job efficiency.
If delegation isn’t working and slows down productivity more than increases it, it’s time for a bigger discussion about why. Get your manager involved. They may have the perfect solution to empower members of your team to take on new responsibilities.
Remember: delegation is a game of give and take. Offer help as much as you ask for it.
And even when you don’t need to delegate, you still boost productivity at work by being a cheerleader.
5. Encourage your teammates and yourself
Whether you’re an owner of a small company, a manager, or another member of a team, you can use good ‘ol fashioned encouragement to boost each other’s productivity.
Encouragement can come in the form of acknowledging their work, offering resources, courses, and tools to make their job easier, and showing your appreciation for their support.
Small tokens of your gratitude or rewards for a job well done can go a long way as well and don’t require a lot of money. Consider this a type of positive reinforcement!
The reward strategy can work on yourself, too.
Too rarely do we acknowledge our own hard work. Don’t wait for someone else to show you encouragement—encourage your productivity boost by giving yourself a small perk.
Perks can include a small gift you’ve been wanting for awhile, a coffee date with a friend, or time to rest and read a book.
Speaking of books, we recommend you read about productivity.
There are a copious number of books on the subject of productivity. We encourage you to pick up a few.
Books can offer you a new perspective on working and teach you alternative ways to streamline your work.
Some of our favourite books on workspace productivity include:
- Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg
- The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Train Your Brain For Success by Roger Seip
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
- Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Deep Work by Cal Newport
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt
- The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
- Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
- The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
- The One Thing by Gary Keller
Now that we’ve encouraged you (see what we did there?) to read books on how to boost your efficiency, we’re now recommending you avoid reading other types of writing that aren’t conducive to being productive.
7. Eliminate distractions
Online distractions can zap the hours off of your workday. These include:
- Social media
- News & media sites
- Chat rooms
Avoid reading these sites by acting like they don’t exist. Easier said than done, we know. We recommend you:
- Turn off your cell phone during your workday if work permits,
- Set time limits on social media apps and websites,
- Better yet, don’t install social media apps on your phone,
- Close your browser, or set limits on visiting sites that are too tempting to ignore (see Point #2),
- Don’t save social media passwords on your browser as this makes it too easy to quickly jump on, say, Twitter, and (see Point #2—again),
- Install focus-aiding extensions, and
- Use website blockers.
Use tech to stop browsing
Where extensions and website blockers are concerned, here is a list of our favourites:
- StayFocused, a Chrome extension that lets you set no-go sites. You set browsing limits during specific times, ideally during the workday. If you try to visit these websites during that time frame, your browser will politely but firmly say ‘no way!’.
- BlockSite, another Chrome extension with similar functionality to StayFocused
- LeechBlock NG, an extension for Chrome and Firefox isn’t quite as comprehensive as BlockSite, but it does the job, and it’s free to use.
- SelfControl, a free app to Mac
- FocusBooster, an extension that offers both free and affordable professional versions, the latter of which gives you unlimited tracking time
- FocusMe, an affordable blocker especially if you chose their annual or 3-year plan
- Cold Turkey, a website blocker not only a cool name but also cut-throat functionality
- Freedom, the Cadillac or website blockers
Methods to stop interruptions
Interruptions, when you’re in the flow, can be hugely harmful to productivity. Tech can help here, too, when it comes to stopping interruptions to and from colleagues.
There are methods you can use to concentrate throughout the day:
When a work-related question or problem comes up, the first thing you can do is talk it out with the duck.
While it sounds kooky, and it is, you’d be surprised by the number of issues that can be revolved without the need to talk them out with someone else.
- Do Not Disturb: Build a work culture of respecting people’s DND time.
Use, encourage, and respect the use of ‘Do Not Disturb’ (DND) settings in email and office communication tools, like Skype.
Like a DND sign on a hotel door, a DND status ensures you’re not interrupted when you really want to concentrate.
- Personal Kanban
- The SMART Method
- Behance Action Habit
- Timeboxing Method
- The Pomodoro Method
- No Zero Days Method
8. Apply the Pareto Principle
Also known as the “80/20” rule, this principle states that eighty percent of results come from twenty percent of the work.
With this in mind, change up your schedule to account for it.
Focus on the right things. Work on the tasks that give you the biggest return on investment (aka time and effort).
These tasks aren’t necessarily the ones you can get done the fastest, they’re often the most important though.
The urgent, less important, quick tasks should be put aside until you have extra time. Better still, see if you can delegate, outsource, automate, or, (seriously!) ignore them
9. Use Time Management Tools
There are too many time management apps, software programs, and extensions to count.
Whether you’re looking to save time and be more productive when sending email communications or whether you want to speed up your social media posting, there’s a tool that can help.
Here are some of our favourite tools divided by category:
These programs let you schedule, post, reply to comments, manage your online reputation, and analyze engagement on several platforms all in one place. Keep tabs on your Twitter, Facebook and instagram accounts in one handy
Email Newsletter Marketing
There are nifty systems that automate the collection of email addresses and the sending of email marketing. Here is a list we compiled of some of the options:
CRM tools help you respond quickly to phone calls and messages from clients. You can also set up ticketing systems or send messages to customers based on their specific needs.
Examples of customer services tools include:
10. Use the Cloud
The Cloud has revolutionised the sharing, collaboration, editing, and use of files.
No longer are you chained to a desktop or external drive that houses your files. Now, you can access what you need, when you need it, as well as edit in one place and collaborate in real time.
With the use of a cloud-based workspace, you can share documentation with clients and colleagues without the need to email attachments back and forth.
Cloud storage is often unlimited, for a fee, so you never have to worry about running out of space. All these spell a boost to productivity at work.
Here are some of the most popular and trustworthy cloud-based workspaces:
- Google Drive
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Apple iCloud
- SpiderOak One Backup
We hope that our trip down efficiency lane has given you lots to think about when it comes to boosting your productivity at work.
Pick a few of the abovementioned tips that you promise to implement and start to see your work efficiency soar.
Now all that’s left to do to increase your productivity is to find the perfect workplace—we offer just the spot!
Learn more about what we offer and how we can help boost your productivity at work. Book a tour at Backbone. We’d be more than happy to show you around.
Want a tour of the space?
Our community of go-getter entrepreneurs could use another one like you! Shoot us a message if you have any questions or want to book a showing.
Backbone Coworking & Executive Offices
104-32615 S Fraser Way
Abbotsford, BC, V2T 1X8