How to Be More Productive at Work

What you’re able to produce at work is the key to how a lot of the rest of your life is able to go. Along the same lines, managing your levels of stress from your job also affects the rest of your life in a very, very serious way. Because so much revolves around your employment, it’s not difficult to see why so many people are interested in things to improve on at work to be happier and to see a better level of performance.

Unfortunately, the general attitude is that you have to pick one or the other: either you can be happier and get less done, or you can be less happy and get more done. This attitude is completely incorrect. As a part of my approach to helping people in my life and others I’ve met who wanted some assistance, I want to give you some ideas on how you can make both happen for you.

The Central Pillar of Productivity in the Workplace

There is one central pillar that we are going to focus on while we discuss how to be more productive at work. This pillar may seem like it’s insignificant or that it’s too vague or plain to apply and be effective, but we’re going to walk through plenty of examples of why you should make this your mantra:

Short-term or long-term?

This is our mantra for being more productive at work, and we’re going to fit virtually every aspect of everything we do into it.

First and foremost, we’re going to apply this pillar to the job itself. Is this a short-term job or a long-term job? For most people in most cases, it should probably be a short-term job, particularly if you’re working for someone else. Plenty of studies have shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that for most people in most jobs, you’ll get more money by seeking out other job opportunities switching companies every few years instead of looking for promotions internally.

Four people working around a table

When you apply “Short-term or long-term?” to your job, it gives you perspective on what’s important. If you want to make sure you do a good job in the short-term, then you can probably stand to deal with annoying coworkers or an overbearing boss a little longer. However, if you think you’re in a long-term position, then you have a different perspective on these things and the moves you’ll need to make to improve your work environment, which is one of the main things you have control over when it comes to boosting your business productivity.

How to Be More Productive at Work With Our Pillar

A lot of people don’t realize this, but there’s an entire branch of science and economics that deals with workplace productivity that tries to figure out what motivates workers from the standpoint of the employer. The idea is to get more work out of employees for less money to boost profits. While that doesn’t help you as the employee all that much on its own, one thing it can do for you is put you in a position to realize that you have to be your own advocate.

What I mean by this is that you have to take responsibility for yourself, and you have to take care of yourself, or no one else is going to. Accepting this is a key to boosting productivity in the workplace and putting yourself in a position for career advancement.

However, you also have to do this while managing stress and how much your work creeps over into the other aspects of your life. We have a few points here for you to consider that are an absolute must if you want to make this balance work for you:

  • Establish firm boundaries that you do not allow to be violated when it comes to work creeping over into your personal life. You need your personal life to be safe from these things because it’s where you primarily manage your stress. You should be working to live, not living to work.
  • Be active about managing your stress with a simple meditation practice. This is not optional. Learn how to meditate for 10 minutes at a time every single day, and it will drastically lower your stress after a couple of weeks of practice by resetting your mind and the baggage you’re carrying around.
  • Take notice of which inputs you’re allowing into both your work and personal lives. The more inputs you have (ie: checking Reddit or the news or your email while you’re trying to do something else), the more stress you will have and the less you will get done. One of the best time management tips you can have for lowering stress and improving productivity is to literally cut out all inputs that aren’t necessary.

Each of these three points is an application of our pillar. Do you want to be distracted in the short-term, or can checking those emails wait until a bit later? Do you want to spend 10 minutes in the short-term meditating so that you will feel better in the long-term? Do you want to give up a small boundary in the short-term, which will inevitably lead to more boundaries being violated in the long-term? Consider your pillar and use it to make smart decisions about now and the future.

Simple Things to Improve on at Work

In these next few sections, we’re just going to throw out a number of ideas that have come from my own personal work with friends who wanted to get more out of their work life while lowering their stress and aggravation with their jobs. All of these may not apply to you, but the idea is for you to be able to pick out a few different small things that you can pick out here that will improve your life overall:

  1. Take time management tips that you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. A lot of them are written by people who have no clue how to manage their own time because they aren’t dealing with real stress from real jobs and real lives.
  2. Remember that your business productivity is an important thing, but it’s not the most important thing. Pick out a few things that will help, but don’t get caught up in the diminishing returns of trying to over-optimize everything.
  3. Pause a few times a day to consciously take a moment to think about what it is you’re trying to accomplish. This will get you out of auto-pilot and give your mind a quick break. Your mind can “recharge its batteries” very quickly if you give it a moment to do so, but to make that happen, you have to switch back over to conscious control.
  4. Finally, take a moment before you walk in the door to take a deep breath and try to put yourself into your “work mode” or your “home mode” mentally, whatever that means to you. It seems kind of silly, but it will drop your stress and seriously give you a better level of productivity by giving your unconscious mind a simple objective to work on instead of having it bounce all over the place.

If you can make a couple of these work for you, you’ll see the results. It’s a simple fact of having faith in the process and using the pillar we described above to create a simple point of focus to act as the “eye of the storm” in the stress of the workplace.