8 Productivity Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind

8 productivity hacks that will blow your mind

how to increase productivity levels

February is a slow month, and if you’re anything like us, concentrating is becoming harder and harder. Luckily, we looked far and wide for some of the most surprising productivity tips to help you keep up at work.

1. Keep making lists, but not in the same way. 

When you make a list you probably go from top to bottom, or maybe you start sticking things on the top because you want to get them done first. WRONG. Ben Schott, author of Schott’s Original Miscellany, a compendium of lists, told Real Simple:

“Varying the format can make a list far more useful. Start in the center of a page and write items in spatial relation to one another, so that you create clouds of related tasks; draw a Venn diagram for party invitees so you can note how people will interact. During the 18th century, sailors in the British navy would sign petitions of grievance in a circle so that ringleaders could not be identified.”

2. Smell flowers when you get up.

Don’t just look at your cereal bowl when you first wake up. You need some beautiful colours in those retinas. Research suggests that exposure to bright colours in the early morning lifts your spirits and energy.

3. Take a walk in a park. 

In 2009, University of Michigan researchers found that subjects who strolled through a nature setting saw a 20% improvement in attention and focus tests. Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds. But people who don’t live in the middle of a nature preserve are not completely screwed, according to the researchers. A slightly quieter street with a few trees can work, or a park, or even looking at potted plants may help your concentration.

4. Laugh a lot.

A Robert Half International survey, for instance, found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humour is important for career advancement; while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humour do a better job. So break out the Louis C.K. YouTube videos and laugh a little.

5. Work at 4 a.m.

Okay, this one sounds a little weird, but some people swear by it. It’s really just the getting up part that’s hard, but once you’re up, you have a lot of peace and quiet while the rest of the world is sleeping. You may be surprised by how productive you can be. Hey if the cast of The Today Show can do it, then you definitely can.

6. Buy one colour of work socks or shoes. 

Try to limit the amount of time you spend on menial decisions like choosing an outfit. Make it a little easier and give yourself fewer choices. You can also do this with meals. Yes, it’s a little boring, but if you find something you like to eat, stick with it.

7. Break up your day into periods of time focused on different tasks.  

Daniel J. Levitin of The New York Times suggests breaking up your day into projects if you want to be both productive and creative. He wrote, “If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods. Your social networking should be done during a designated time, not as constant interruptions to your day.

Email, too, should be done at designated times. An email that you know is sitting there, unread, may sap attentional resources as your brain keeps thinking about it, distracting you from what you’re doing. What might be in it? Who’s it from? Is it good news or bad news? It’s better to leave your email program off than to hear that constant ping and know that you’re ignoring messages.”

8. Turn up the heat.

As we all know, the temperature in our office is never quite right. In the summer we’re too cold and in the winter we’re too warm. Well, it turns out being warmer is probably better when it comes to productivity. A study found that when people feel physically cold they feel more alone, and then perceive others to be less caring and generous (i.e. cold). But when we’re warmer, we feel we have more in common with others and act friendlier, which can in turn help our productivity.

Meredith Lepore

Meredith is the former editor in chief of the women's career site, The Grindstone. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire @ Work, The Jane Dough, DailyWorth, SheKnows.com, Business Insider and Learnvest. She earned her Masters in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Meredith resides in New York full time and enjoys reading, jogging, SoulCycle and playing with her small dog, Otis.