Struggling to keep momentum after that 3pm slump? Or to get started in the morning? You’re not alone. In fact, studies show that people — on average — only work 2 hours and 53 minutes out of an eight-hour workday (you read correctly). That’s roughly 37.5% of what we are paid for assuming a 40-hour workweek — and 1,300 work-hours un-worked per year.
Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you optimized your productivity? Even if only by 10–20%.
Interested? Good. Because we’ve got nine hacks to boost your productivity that you can try today. And best of all? They’re all backed by science and cold hard facts.
Let’s dive in.
1. Work with ultradian rhythms
Okay — first of all: you actually don’t have to work more hours to be more productive. While those statistics above can look pretty alarming, you can still fit a lot of productivity within that time-frame.
In fact, the top 10% of productive employees don’t work more hours. They take more breaks. If you think about it, it makes sense. By cutting yourself some slack, you’re more likely to maintain your energy by working in spurts.
More precisely, by working in 90-minute sprints throughout the day. The body operates on 120-minute intervals called ultradian rhythms. To maximize speed and productivity, work in 90-minute sprints with 30 minute rests in between.
2. Break down projects into goals
A sense of progress has been shown to boost motivation and productivity. But sometimes if you’re working on a big project, it’s hard to count your wins. The solution is to break your projects into goals — big and small — to get the feeling of moving forward.
By doing this, you’re more likely to get into a more motivated and good mood. And studies show a simple 12% boost in productivity from a being in a good mood, with 76% of good mood days involve productive steps forward.
So feel good for your own — and your productivity’s — sake.
3. Adhere to a stable schedule
More stable, realistic schedules have been shown to increase productivity in retail workers. Will it work for information workers too? Possibly. One study showed 68% decrease in productivity for those who feel overwhelmed. That is, those that feel like they don’t have enough hours in a day to complete their tasks. However, research has also demonstrated a 5% increase in productivity in employees with stable schedules.
This aligns with the fact that the most productive employees don’t work more hours. Keep a stable, realistic schedule and you’ll actually get more done than if you cram it full.
4. Work from home
Feel like working from bed? Research from Stanford shows it might not be such a terrible idea.
Employees showed a whopping 17% increase in productivity by working from home. And add to that 50% less turnover rate. Not too bad for a day in bed.
Our devices offer a plethora of distractions. As do our coworkers (80% cite chatty coworkers and office noise as top distractions.) In fact, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds is the average to properly get back to your task after an interruption.
Get some ear-plugs and commit to not checking your email or phone for a certain period. Also, maybe try to cut down on meetings. 60% said they view them as just another distraction.
6. Get snoozing
Embrace the siesta. The best thing to do is of course to get a good night’s rest. Nothing compares to it. But if that’s not on the table, a nap can help. 30-minute naps can stop deteriorating performance, and 60-minute naps can revert it.
7. Avoid wordy music
Listing to music with words can be more distracting than boosting, and the same goes for new music. The solution? Listen to familiar music without lyrics. 90% of workers improve their performance when listing to music, and 88% do more accurate work.
So find some wordless tunes and get cracking!
8. Find meaning
They let university call center operators talk to a recipient of a student scholarship for five minutes. During the conversation, questions were asked about the student’s studies. That way, the operators tangibly saw how their work affected someone else’s life. This resulted in a 171% increase in money raised and 142% increase in time spent on the phone.
Furthermore, other studies have shown a 38% increase in productivity from engaged employees.
The take-away? Help yourself — or your employees — understand the impact and importance of the work and how it affects the customers. By connecting it to the bigger picture, you’re more likely to get meaning from your daily work as well.
9. Get caffeinated
You already know this one, and There have been several studies that show how caffeine improves alertness and cognitive functioning. Quite possibly, you’re already a hardcore coffeeholic.
But maybe you don’t know when to best get your java on? Science says 8-9am, 12-1pm, and 5.30-6.30pm is the best time for coffee since this is when your body’s natural cortisol levels are low.
Feeling sluggish? Try a nap. Or if you’ve had an unproductive day, start planning your day tomorrow for maximum productivity. With some effort, you’re sure to see your productivity-levels surge.