Being productive at work is probably pretty high up on your priority list, which means there’s a good chance you’re already using gadgets, apps and other techniques to help you block out distractions, set deadlines, make lists and plan your days more efficiently.
5 Unusual Scientific Ways to Boost Your Productivity at Work
No matter how well things are planned in advance, however, we all have the occasional bad day, so the next time your usual productivity tactics don’t seem to be working; you may want to try one of these slightly less conventional tricks.
1. Introduce some background noise
Most of us assume that a quiet atmosphere will help us concentrate and get more done, but this isn’t always the case. One study found that when people listen to music they not only feel more creative but are also able to get their work done more efficiently.
It doesn’t have to be music, however, as another study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that ambient noise can improve creativity and productivity. So if you’re having a hard time concentrating in a calm office environment, putting on some classical music or heading to a bustling coffee shop for an hour or two could help you get back on track.
2. Let there be light
Working in an office environment often means working under artificial lighting, but research shows that this type of lighting isn’t necessarily the most conducive to our work performance.
One study published in the Journal SLEEP found that workers in offices without windows slept less at night and reported lower scores on quality of life measures. A lack of sleep is known to negatively affect our performance at work, making us less productive and increasing the risk of burnout.
If your designated workspace doesn’t have a window nearby, you can invest in a lamp that mimics natural light. Of course, the real deal is always better, so try to get some natural light whenever you can, even if you have to switch desks with a colleague for a few hours or sit outside on a park bench.
3. Allow yourself to do nothing
Oddly enough, research shows that giving yourself the option of doing nothing can actually help you get more done. According to the researchers behind the study, framing our choices in this way helps us understand our preferences and encourages us to persist even when things get difficult.
For instance, you might give yourself the following options:
- Finish project proposal
- Call client
- Do nothing
Seeing these options lined up helps you realise that you’d rather do what you can now and relax later as opposed to relaxing now but having to finish everything at the last minute or even missing your deadline completely and having to deal with the consequences.
4. Reward yourself with some online time
While it’s true that sites like Facebook and Twitter can distract you from your work, getting your social media fix between other tasks at work may actually help you get more done in the long run.
A survey conducted by Evolv, a data analytics firm, found that employees who were active on four or more social media sites actually worked more efficiently and stayed in their jobs for longer than those who didn’t belong to any social networks.
So don’t beat yourself up about it the next time you take a quick social media break while at work. As long as you can limit your browsing time to just a few minutes, research shows that switching to a task that’s a little less demanding can give your mind a break and help you be more productive later on.
5. Make time for humour
Whether you’re experiencing a creative block, are feeling stressed out about an upcoming deadline or just haven’t been on top of your game, research shows that laughter really is the best medicine.
One study found that when managers used humour in the workplace, their employees were more productive. Other research indicates that anticipating a laugh can reduce stress hormones which are thought to interfere with productivity and creativity, and another study even shows that looking at pictures of cute animals can improve your concentration and work performance.
So don’t take yourself too seriously at work and try to inject some humour into your day by sharing a joke with a colleague or even just being willing to laugh at your own mistakes.