This year, we're finding ways to work smarter to enable us to increase our productivity and achieve a better work-life balance. Here are some of the methods we're using to help our working day run more smoothly.
Checking email can be a big drain on your time and a full inbox can skew your perceived workload, causing unnecessary stress. Be selective and choose only the best subscriptions to read this year.
Removing as much clutter from your screen as possible will help to focus your attention on the task at hand.
On a mac, you can hide both the menu and dock bars (System Preferences > General > Automatically hide and show the menu bar and dock System Preferences > Dock > Automatically hide and show dock) and use do no disturb mode during periods of deep concentration. Or simply mute any notifications which do not require immediate attention.
We also use Slack for day-to-day communication in the studio, which allows us to mute specific channels or all notifications completely.
Dedicate time in the morning to planning your day. Setting an outline of the work you would like to do and an order in which you will do it, helps to give you a focus for the day and enables you to prioritise key tasks.
Then, use the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. I use Gestimer to enable this method.
Finally, take short breaks often, rather than longer ones less often. For example, 5 to 10 minutes every hour is better than 20 minutes every 2 hours. This way of taking breaks fits really well with the structure of the Pomodoro Technique.
Cut out the noise of a busy office and get into the flow of your own project by investing in some noise cancelling headphones (I can highly recommend Bose Quietcomfort Series II). Adopting the policy of not disturbing anyone with their headphones in can be helpful in a busy office. Drop them an email or Slack message and they’ll get to it when they have time.
Once you have your headphones in, you’ll need to choose the right thing to listen to. This is so subjective and depends on the person, environment and task, however there are many options to suit your needs. Whether you prefer music, audiobooks or podcasts, there is plenty to choose from. Or you can customise your needs with apps like Noizio which enable you to create a mood rather than a soundtrack.
These days our phones are never far away from us and we actually often check them without realising. Don’t get sucked into this trap and fall down a phone black hole. If you can, consider putting your phone on silent in your bag and only check during breaks. If you need to have your phone nearby for emergencies, mute any unnecessary apps or set it to only receive calls/messages from key contacts
The human brain is made of around 85% water. To make sure you are operating at the right level of focus and concentration, the average adult needs to drink about eight glasses of water a day (about 2 litres). Use a reusable container and take it everywhere to help your health and the planet.
Keeping your workspace and computer tidy is really useful to retain focus and create an efficient environment. Review your current setup, is it working well for you? Spend some time cleaning up your computer as well as your desk. As you might do a big spring clean every so often at home, apply the same logic at work. Ensuring your work is named clearly and saved in organised folders can really save you lots of time and decrease stress levels. Set aside time to keep on top of this as things can quickly go astray during a busy week.
Being mentally distracted is a killer for productivity. We have a constant stream of thoughts throughout the day which can block concentration but are important. Noting down these thoughts and coming back to them later really helps to clear your mind and focus on the current task before moving on.
Use multiple calendars for work, home and fitness for example. Block book time for even the small tasks so you can plan smarter. Toggle the calendars on and off depending on your environment. The calendar has your back so add tasks such as events, meetings and reminders and check them daily to maximise your productivity during the week and be efficient without missing a beat.
These are some of the best ways we’ve found that help productivity and make the best use of your time. We hope this is helpful to you in 2019!