How to be Productive in the Office

Apr 21, 2016 | The ONE Thing | 0 comments

Black and white modern office

We often think of the office as a safe haven when it comes to productivity, but that’s not always the case. Just because you’re in the office doesn’t mean you’re going to be productive, especially in today’s world.

Open office environments, offices that resemble broom closets, and shared desks are a norm for many businesses looking for solutions to restricting floorplans, which can sometimes leave employees feeling exposed to distractors. This situation is expected to worsen in the future. According to a recent survey by CoreNet Global, 40 percent of professionals expect their average office space per worker to be less than 100 square feet within five years. This is a far cry from the ideal 500 to 700 square feet sought out in the 1970’s.

With shrinking office space often comes shrinking productivity—unless you’re prepared! Contrary to popular belief, there are ways you can maintain the same level of productivity whether you’re working in an office with a view or crammed between two co-workers at a card table. While we’ve discussed working from home and working on the go in previous posts, today we discuss the office in our last installment on productive work environments. Listed below are a few strategies for you to take care of your productivity in any office configuration.


Cut out the Lyrics

If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you’re probably familiar with the suggestion that headphones can provide a great signal to others that you’re in your own “zone” and you don’t want to be disturbed.  However, there’s a good chance that once you put on your headphones, a whole new world of distractions open themselves up to you.

When you put on your headphones, start up a playlist that only features music without lyrics. Whether you’re consciously aware of it or not, when listening to music with lyrics, our brains are locked in to what we’re listening to as if we were engaged in a conversation with someone else. By cutting out the lyrics, you’re essentially cutting out the chitter-chatter going on inside of your brain, allowing you to focus on what really matters.


Decorate Your Workspace

The effects of having a familiar plant or picture hanging around your workspace can have long lasting benefits for a person’s productivity. Researchers from the University of Exeter surveyed a group of workers and found that workers who were allowed to decorate their workspaces were 32 percent more productive than their counterparts.

If decorating your workplace is prohibited, reach out to your business leadership and ask them to consider changing the rule.


Stop Hiding Under Your Desk and Go Outside

Keeping your brain charged and ready to roll is a daily struggle for many office dwellers. If you find yourself contemplating building a nest underneath your desk to escape from distraction, it might be time to take a step outside.

Each task you handle over the span of a workday drains a percentage of the battery keeping your brain charged. Before you let your internal battery reach zero, locate the nearest exit and walk calmly toward it. Once you feel your skin cells soaking up some sunlight, take a deep breath and refresh your psyche. Try focusing on something other than the work waiting back for you at your desk. After you feel revitalized, get back inside, step up to the plate, and knock your ONE Thing out of the park!


Talk to People around You, Then Don’t

Taking breaks is crucial to staying on point in any office environment—we just covered that. If you consider yourself to be a pretty social person, or someone that is enlivened by being socially engaged, working in something that resembles an open office environment can present unique challenges for your focus. This may seem like counterproductive advice at first, but if you feel the itch to talk to someone else—do it, but set a limit to how long and when you’re allowed to talk and always keep the other person’s own interests in mind.

A quick chat is nothing to fret aboutand it may save you from stray thoughts in the future.


Manage the Micromanaging Manager

One of the challenges of a shrinking work environment is coping with the wandering eyes of a manager. It’s tempting for even the best managers to micromanage their employees when they’re within a close vicinity of their cohorts.

If you find yourself in this situation, one simple trick is to purchase a privacy screen for your computer. These screens prevent people who aren’t directly looking at your screen from seeing what you’re working on. If your situation extends beyond modest wandering eyes, the best possible solution for putting an end to micromanaging is to simply have a conversation with your manager. The whole point of management is to get the best results out of your employees. So if micromanagement is effecting your productivity, let your manager know what managing styles work best for you.


Skip the Coffee, Drink the Coffee—Whatever Works for You

We know what you might be wondering: “Do whatever works for you? What kind of life hack is that?” Well, we’ll tell you what kind of life hack that is—an honest one.

Coffee is awfully awful and goodly good for you at the same time—or at least we think so. New research is constantly flooding the scientific airwaves that both champion and admonish the merits of a warm cup of Joe in the morning. So really, the only judge for how it can make you productive in the workplace is you.

Listen to your body and decide how it affects you when you guzzle down a fresh roast. If it affects your productivity in a negative way, set up a plan to de-caffeinate yourself or find the right time where it can help you become more productive. If it affects you in a way you feel is positive, then drink it, but with the understanding that everyone has their limits and it’s up to you to learn what your personal threshold is.


What kind of tricks have you learned to help be your most productive self, whether in the office, or getting the job done elsewhere? Check out the other parts of this mini-series here and here, and leave your own productivity hacks below or on Facebook.