Essentials for a productive work day

Essentials for a productive work day cover photo

What is Productivity

As a formal definition, productivity refers to your output in relation to your input measuring your effectiveness in effort. To know if we’ve been productive, we ask ourselves, “What have we gotten done today?” Now, I’d like to remove the notion that having more stuff done is better than less because it matters what we actually do. What I mean is – do we do meaningful things or just put anything on our list that’s easy but not meaningful, just to “get stuff done”?

The measure of having a productive work day is subjective and dependent on your type of work. In some cases, the number of tasks accomplished may mean more (such as packing items for shipping) whilst other work will measure productivity in terms of progress (as in handling big projects where you can’t typically finish it in one or two sitting.)

If you’re one who does work on a desk, how do you ensure you’re set for a productive day? Here’s a hint:  It matters what’s easily accessible and what’s not.

Related: 5 Ways to Boost Productivity at Uni

What are the Things to Consider

Personality Matters – What motivates you to be productive?

Did you know that your personality affects the best system of work for you? I didn’t. A few months ago, I learned that our personality will affect what best environment we can work in, what systems, and what words we can tell ourselves and others. For a more in depth study or explanation on this, you can check out The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin which explains how our personalities affect our motivations – and therefore can definitely affect our productivity. If you prefer not to read and just want to determine your personality, check out the quiz here.

More than the book, it also matters if you’re extroverted or introverted. Since extroverted people gather more energy around people, then they’ll probably work best surrounded by them (even if they don’t know the people surrounding them such as working in coffee shops) – similar to me. If an introverted person gathers more energy alone, then that person will work better alone or around a few people. Since work is obviously taxing on energy, helping myself by working in environments that help my energy is definitely a plus.

Related: 7 Tips to Keep Yourself Motivated

Consider Ergonomics – Your health and comfort matters to be productive

According to Matt Middlesworth from ErgoPlus, Ergonomics refers to optimizing human well-being with his working environment for optimal performance. What does it mean? It means, it matters where you work. Are you in a distracting environment? Are you surrounded with mess? What about the tables and chairs you use, do they work for you or are they straining you? 

If you’re going to work long hours in a certain space, your comfort should not be sacrificed as it could potentially negatively affect your productivity.

Know the Things You ACTUALLY Use – and get rid of the ones you don’t

Sometimes, we tend to accumulate things we don’t really need. If your desk needs a major cleanout, it may help you if you go ahead and do that first before you start working. Do those pens still work? Do you need those pads lying around? Everything in your workplace should have its own home.

If it doesn’t have a home and you don’t use it anymore, maybe it’s time to get rid of it. If you think you’ll be needing it in the future, maybe it’s time to archive it – set it aside where you won’t see it but know where it’ll be the moment you need it.

Well-planned Breaks Matter – time, snacks, and the right environment

You might have heard this already but breaks are essential for a productive work day. Managing your tasks in time blocks may help you manage your energy as well. Your mini breaks can give you a boost by making sure you don’t end up just dragging your work through the day but actually getting a significant amount done in less time.

In your mini breaks, snack if you can – but careful on what you snack on! Snacks can help with your energy levels but this will still depend on what snacks you choose to eat. Going for a chocolate bar or an apple may lead to different results. You wouldn’t want a sugar rush then end up crashing later on.

Are you getting sick and tired of your desk? If you have the luxury of choice to move to a different work environment, maybe switch coffee shops or areas in the room, then maybe it’s the thing you need to regain your focus. Sometimes, a different environment is what we need to get ourselves back on track.

Switching environments doesn’t have to be literal though – sometimes a mere rearranging of your desk items would do the trick.

Related: Self-Management and Time-Blocking Tips

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