Some days, getting things done comes easily. Other days, being productive is a struggle.
If this describes you, you’re hardly alone: According to a Gallup poll, only 32 percent of American workers were considered “engaged” in their jobs in 2015. That’s not only detrimental for workplace performance, both for the employee too. Feeling unproductive often goes hand in hand with low job satisfaction and unhappiness in the workplace.
Luckily, there’s an antidote. If you want to be productive and feel fulfilled in your work, there are ways to combat those dreadfully lazy days when it feels like nothing can get you moving. Below are seven tips to get more out of your work day ― and you won’t even have to leave the office:
1. Make a to-do list ― but do it right.
Writing a to-do list is often the first logical step in a productive day, but doing it right is harder than it sounds.
Productivity experts warn about the dangers of overloading your list by putting too many large tasks on it. Breaking your day down into small, manageable items that you can actually complete can help you map out what you need to get done and set yourself up for success. Instead of writing “finish project,” on your list, break a big task up into smaller steps such as “make three powerpoint slides” or “write two pages of report.”
After all, there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing an item off your to-do list. Except, perhaps, finishing the list altogether.
2. Grab a (healthy) snack.
The source of renewed productivity may lie in your stomach. A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that young adults who ate more fruits and vegetables reported increased levels of creativity, curiosity and well-being.
Making healthy snack and meal choices can be a simple but powerful way to accomplish tasks and get your creative juices flowing. Check out these healthy snack ideas if you’re looking for a way to boost that brainpower.
3. Embrace a minimalist workspace.
You spend a good chunk of your life in the office, so it only makes sense that your space will get a bit cluttered. One 2013 study showed that messy desks encourage creative thinking, but beware: that mess can take a toll on your productivity levels.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that multiple stimuli in your line of sight compete for your brain’s attention. In order to increase concentration levels while you sit at your desk, eliminate the excess mess. This will make it easier for you to process the task at hand without distractions.
Looking for more ways to set your space up for success? Check out this handy guide.
4. Coffee, coffee, coffee.
Or tea, if that’s your thing. Of course, you shouldn’t rely on caffeine to replace lost sleep, but it can be the energy boost you need to give your productivity levels a jolt.
In a 2010 analysis and review of existing research, the benefits of caffeine were plain to see. Moderate consumption of caffeine results in increased energy, an improved ability to concentrate and better problem solving skills, among other benefits. It pays to get up from your desk, fill up that mug and let the java work its magic.
5. Force yourself to take a break.
You may feel like you need to stay chained to your desk, but it’s important to realize that the world won’t go up in flames if you make time for a break. In fact, your work might be better for it.
Studies show that employees are more productive when they take breaks throughout the day. According to 2014 research, there’s a precise amount of time you should be on break to maximize productivity: 17 minutes, to be exact. The experiment showed that employees were most productive when they worked for 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break, typically spent away from the computer.
6. Take a nap.
Show this to your boss the next time he or she thinks you’re sleeping on the job.
More and more offices are implementing nap rooms for their employees, and for good reason: the benefits of a small snooze are boundless. Napping has been shown to increase alertness, improve creativity and boost productivity ― all of which will do wonders for your work day.
7. Get up and talk to people.
While working from home is a perk that many modern-day employees enjoy, nothing can replace face-to-face meetings and in-person interactions.
If you’re lucky enough to work alongside peers whom you respect and like, don’t pass up the opportunity to talk to them on a regular basis, about work or otherwise. Workplace friendships can increase job satisfaction and productivity as well as decreasing stress, according to the American Psychological Association.
With these simple hacks in your arsenal, you can knock each work day out of the park. You’ll be a better, happier, more productive employee for it. And who wouldn’t want that?