Because you’re procrastinating right now, aren’t you?
1. Work In Timed Bursts
“A technique I use to power through tasks I’m procrastinating over is the Pomodoro timer,” says productivity expert Lee Garrett. ‘It’s a simple premise: choose a task, work on it for 25 minutes solidly, then take a five-minute break.” That’s one pomodoro (the name comes from the Italian for tomato, after its inventor’s round red kitchen timer, in case you’re wondering). “You’ll build momentum,” says Garrett. “I find myself forgoing the break because I don’t want to ruin the flow.”
2. Plan When You’ll Do Your “Busy Work”
Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy it. A study by the University of California found that workers tend to be happiest when doing mundane tasks – probably because it provides the dopamine hit created by accomplishment without the stress of more challenging work. The secret is to plan it for your slumps: rather than waste your post-coffee 10am buzz on ploughing through invoices, save that for the 3pm lull and use your creative bursts wisely.
3. Be More Happy
You’ve always suspected it, but now there’s proof: a 2015 study of 700 people found that strategic “happiness shocks” – a snack or a comedy clip, say – made workers more productive, while real-world shocks like mourning or family matters had a negative effect. If your employer doesn’t take workplace happiness seriously, assume responsibility yourself – use a five-minute breaks to write down two things you’re pleased about on a sticky note, then power through.
4. Warm up
In a Finnish study, productivity topped out at 22˚C – though Cornell research suggests that typing errors drop in even warmer climes. Set the thermostat between 22° and 24°.
5. Colour shift
Researchers at New York’s Lighting Research Centre recommend using 460-nanometer blue, which mimics daylight, for better alertness. If sleep is a concern, red increases alertness without affecting melatonin. Pick one, and switch your monitor’s backdrop.
6. Tune out chatter
The office hubbub not only lowers productivity: excess noise can cause deskbound slump, according to a Journal Of Psychology study. Get over-ear headphones to safeguard your cochlea – and listen to something lyric-free.
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