Productivity in the workplace is a serious issue and the subject of increasing amounts of research. While financial incentives can often help people be more productive, there are loads of things you can do without anyone having to spend a penny. In this guest post, Peter Ames, from office space marketplace, outlines the most common problems and how you can turn them around.
Five Common Productivity Mistakes and How to Avoid Them | High Performance Blog

The right work in the wrong place

First and foremost, you could simply be working in the wrong atmosphere: Different tasks are suited to different environments, so the standard office desk is a strange place to attempt everything. For example, writers may appreciate silence, while sales people want plenty of buzz; these two rarely go well together.
There are a number of solutions: Try working elsewhere in the office for a start! There might be a quieter spot that works for you, if that’s what you’re after. If not, consider working from home (if allowed) or even a coffee shop if you know one that will offer the atmosphere you’re after.
Five Common Productivity Mistakes and How to Avoid Them | High Performance Blog

Meetings (of course)

We couldn’t write a productivity article without mentioning one of the biggest productivity bugbears (possibly even clichés) out there – meetings. Specifically, their abundance and their length. While some are unavoidable and unavoidably long, there are many that can certainly have a time limit imposed upon them – or don’t need to happen at all.
If you want to be even more productive why not try a walking meeting? The benefits are twofold: Firstly, the slightly more dynamic situation and change of scenery may well help ideas develop. Furthermore, exercise can also boost your productivity (as well as your health).
Five Common Productivity Mistakes and How to Avoid Them | High Performance Blog

Trawling through your emails

Up there with meetings, emails get a lot of flak when it comes to their effect on productivity, but it’s easy to see why: We can spend up to 30 hours a week reading emails! Of course, some require urgent attention – but how many messages does this genuinely apply to on a day-to-day basis?
To get around this – set aside yourself some email time every day. Periods that work best when you are warming up or cooling down (so to speak), so 9-9.30, 1-1.30, and 4.30-5 are great blocks to deal with your emails in one fell swoop.
Five Common Productivity Mistakes and How to Avoid Them | High Performance Blog

Take a break!

It’s really important you take as many breaks as are acceptable during the day. You may feel like you’re slacking off, but when you come back you’re often more productive. The stats back it up too. Periods away from the desk make you all the better when you’re back!
On a bigger scale, it’s also important you take vacation time. While you need breaks during the day, you certainly need breaks during the year. One in five UK workers do not use up their full vacation allocation, so ensure you’re not one of them if you want to work at your best.
Five Common Productivity Mistakes and How to Avoid Them | High Performance Blog

Too many things at once

The problem with taking on a lot of work is you’ll often try to tackle it in one go. This can be a recipe for disaster, and more often than not you end up flicking between them endlessly. By trying to do a lot you end up doing nothing at all.
This is where to-do lists come in handy. It’s very satisfying being able to take something off a list – we find it makes you an awful lot more likely to prioritize and get stuff done. Evernote even lets you create tick boxes within your lists/notes – so you can literally tick them off, which is hugely rewarding.
As with everything else on this list it’s a relatively small step. However, with this, and a few of the above, you might be more productive sooner than you thought.
Peter Ames is head of strategy at Office Genie, a desk and office space marketplace for freelancers and small businesses
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