(April 2020) – There is no universal, foolproof way to ensure perfect productivity — no magical cure-all for distraction, procrastination or any one of the many other things that can interrupt an otherwise ideal work day. The good news? You aren’t alone. Everyone falls victim to these things, probably more often than you realize.
Still, we could all use a little help to keep us on track. Here are a few methods designed to help increase your productivity and give you more time to nurture other parts of your life, leaving you more space to breathe and balance.
- Stop multitasking: It may seem like you are getting more done by bouncing between several tasks at once, but that might not be the case. APA research has found that humans do not have the capacity to switch between multiple tasks without significant reduction in both productivity and accuracy because our brains have only a certain amount of capacity to focus. The study found the time it takes for our brains to adjust to each new task — sometimes just a few tenths of a second — can add up to big losses in time, accounting for as much as 40 percent of the workday. Another study showed that switching between tasks led to a higher likelihood of being distracted. The best way to save time and stay focused? One task at a time.
- Avoid distractions: Especially when working from home, this might seem impossible. But there are a few things you can do to alleviate some of them. Downloading apps that block distracting websites like StayFocused, turn off distracting notifications on your phone, and making your working hours clear to those around you can all help take away some of the noise.
- Manage your to-do lists: Prioritize your most important tasks first, break down big tasks into smaller ones to better gauge your progress and try to take it all one day at a time.
- Take a break: Like the myth of longer work weeks, the concept of skipping breaks leading to more productivity has been disproven in study after study. Working straight through a workday can lead to mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating and, ultimately, burnout.