How Can I Become More Productive at Work ?

September 8, 2023

I was recently listening to some lectures on mindset and how we can use certain tools to enhance our productivity. Scientists currently believe that there are 4 main areas in the brain involved with the pursuit of goals: the amygdala, basal ganglia, lateral pre-frontal cortex and orbital frontal cortex.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of advice I learnt that we can use our visual senses to help us focus better. When we are for example driving a car, we use a panoramic view. Focusing on something we need to accomplish by staring at the screen allows us to narrow our attention which increases levels of hormones in our brain related to alertness. If we can sustain this for a period of say 30 -90 seconds, it should help us refocus (and yes, you can blink during this !).

Bear in mind that this will also increase your systolic blood pressure but this is transient and therefore considered to be safe. However if you have any cardiac conditions, do discuss this with your GP beforehand.

Improving productivity will help you to complete tasks; here are some strategies that may help.

  1. Set Clear Goals and Priorities: Define specific, measurable, and achievable goals for each day or week. It’s better to have one large goal and break it down. You can also prioritize tasks based on importance and deadlines.
  2. Create a To-Do List: Make a list of tasks you need to complete, and update it daily by writing out a new list. If you use sticky post its, do not put these in the same place each day – anything that shows up regularly in our environment tends to get cancelled out by our visual senses. Apps can be useful, but pen and paper is more effective. Try to use complete sentences and verbs.
  3. Time Management: Allocate how many hours you will do each day/week for different tasks.
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  4. Minimize Distractions: Identify common distractions in your workplace and find ways to reduce them. Some people find it helpful to put their mobile into airplane mode or even hand it over to a colleague. Some people like music, others prefer to work in silence, so if you like music, use headphones.
  5. Organize Your Workspace: Keep your workspace tidy and organized works for some, but don’t make the mistake of tidying your work area up just because someone has told you. I can put my hand on a document in a pile of filing, but I’ve often spent time looking for something I have tidied up… !
  6. Use Technology to Suit: You may like to use apps and tools like project management software, calendars, and note-taking apps. Certain organisations such as the FSB can help with training courses if you are not familiar with apps, alternatively there are usually quite a few videos on Utube that can help.
  7. Delegate Tasks: If you have a team, delegate only those tasks that others can handle efficiently. As always, be careful who you trust. I would always make sure that I deal with certain customers personally. One comment made in error by someone can ruin a business relationship you have worked hard to build up.
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  8. Set Boundaries: Try to define your work hours and personal time to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Avoiding work-related calls or checking emails during personal time is a good ideal, but sometimes you do need to make a call at the weekend, especially when you are starting up.
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