“How can I be more productive? Are there any free ways to boost my productivity?”
These questions have haunted mankind since the dawn of time. Plato once said, “Better a little which is well done than a great deal imperfectly.” But, when we think of productivity, is it the number of things we can get done? Or is the quality of whatever we’re doing? Maybe it can be both if we think a little outside the box.
With that in mind, we’re covering a few seemingly unconventional but well-researched ways to improve productivity – some of which you might not have considered before. Let’s take a look…
1. Take a Break
This is one of the more obvious tips on this list. But, nonetheless, it’s essential, so it’s worth mentioning.
A comprehensive analysis showed that taking frequent short breaks increased the ability to perform workplace tasks and enhanced employee well-being. This same study indicated that our mental and physical abilities become impaired throughout the workday. Resulting in poorer problem-solving skills, increased emotional strain, and the physical completion of tasks becomes much slower.
The research suggests that employees need regular intervals of ‘recovery’ to remedy these issues. That way, our bodies’ physical and mental processes at work have time to return to their base levels.
2. Quit Multitasking
Controversial, we know.
In today’s working environment and even in our daily lives, we’re expected to juggle a multitude of tasks and complete them with the same level of efficiency as if we were only attending to one job.
The idea behind multitasking is that if you do multiple things at once, they somehow get done faster. But is this really the case? Are we more productive when we do more than one thing at a time?
A recent study concluded: “Multitasking led to reduced performance and increased levels of subjective strain.” In fact, it was found that multitaskers in this review were more prone to error, performed individual tasks much slower, and experienced increased stress levels. While the research did find that in the case of virtual meetings, multitasking could generate positive results. This is likely more indicative of the ability to conduct work while giving the appearance of attentiveness in virtual meetings, rather than the amount of work actually produced.
In short, if you want better results, stick to one thing at a time.
3. Play Card Games
Yes, you read that right.
Studies have linked playing games to the development of higher-order thinking skills. In fact, researchers have shown that games can help improve otherwise underutilized skills, which, in turn, can enhance productivity. A more specific example is boosting arithmetic skills with spider solitaire.
Brilliant minds including Bill Gates have enjoyed playing strategy games for years, from Minesweeper to solitaire. He even used to sneak into a colleague’s office to play his brain empowering games.
4. Take a Nap
However, according to research, this isn’t the case. Productivity literature suggests that strategic naps can promote performance and alertness. The study found that naps of 30 minutes or less could increase performance and promote wakefulness, making participants more receptive to new information.
In fact, after an analysis found that the impact of sleep-deprived workers cost the US economy $411bn a year, many employers now encourage napping at the workplace. For instance, you’ll find nap rooms in many big-name offices, including Ben and Jerry’s, Google, and Nike.
5. Exercise (but not at the costly gym)
If you’re feeling sluggish and run-down, and that’s why you’re searching for productivity tips, hitting the gym is likely the furthest thing from your mind. Yet, exercise can improve productivity and workability.
Interestingly, in one study, workers were encouraged to take regular exercise breaks during the workday. As a result, the results showed that workers enjoyed an enhanced sense of well-being and overall productivity improved. Further to this finding, another report on the productivity of workers performing manual jobs showed that participants who frequently exercised could work longer without the need for rest.
The moral of the story? Sporadically, get up and stretch your legs. Perhaps go for a walk around the block or a jog at lunchtime to get the blood pumping? You might be surprised at how much this helps improve your focus!
Are You Ready to Boost Your Productivity?
So what are the key takeaways from these unconventional productivity boosters? For one, playing a game of solitaire might actually make your work go a lot faster than you think! This isn’t just because taking regular breaks, and playing games, can increase your work performance and reduce fatigue. It’s also a great way to break up your day and add a bit of healthy self-competition to your daily routine. Not to mention, it could even sharpen your math skills.
But, if gaming isn’t your jam, let’s not forget our other productivity suggestions. As we discussed, cutting the hectic allure of multitasking can save you lots of time and probably improve the quality of your output. Lastly, exercise and sleep are always a must in terms of physical and mental health. Unsurprisingly, when you take care of your body, your workplace longevity and satisfaction are likely to see a boost too.
With all that said, we hope this has been informative on how to improve your overall productivity. Good luck!