office productivity

Modern office workers face numerous challenges to their productivity. These range from the distractions created by the internet to phone calls, office noise and even the discomfort caused by long periods of remaining sedentary.

Cumulatively, distractions at work mean that countless hours can be lost over the course of a year.

Here are some simple tips for avoiding distractions, staying motivated and getting things done in the modern office environment.

Managing your personal computer

Many of us rely on a PC to get things done at work. However, a PC can quickly become a source of wasted time, inefficiency and distractions.

The following simple tips will ensure that your PC enhances, rather than obstructs, your productivity.

1.   Eliminate system down time

Getting your computer up and running can easily take up 15 or more minutes of your day, every day. Throw in screen freezes, blue screen errors and other unpredictable computer behaviour, and you can easily lose several hours over the course of a month, adding to stress levels and reducing your productivity.

To improve system accessibility and reduce down time, take the following steps:

  • Don’t turn your PC off at the end of the day. Instead, put it into hibernation mode. This will ensure that startup takes seconds, rather than minutes, the following day.
  • Manage your startup menu. Only run essential programs at startup or your machine will slow down while it runs programs you don’t need in the background. Free applications such as CCleaner provide tools that make it easy to manage your startup programs.
  • Uninstall any programs you haven’t used for six months. Keep your program library trim and you’ll see your PC speed up.
  • Consider upgrading your PC storage to a solid state hard drive. This will speed up your PC and reduce both startup and program and file loading times.

2.   Turn off the internet

The internet is a huge source of distractions. Facebook,  Twitter, news sites and e-mail are all notorious for dragging your attention away from what you really need to get done.

If you don’t have the discipline to stay off the internet, you can consider using a tool like Freedom. This lets you lock yourself off the internet for a specific duration. It’s the perfect tool to use if you’re doing offline work, enabling you to quickly and effectively tune out all online distractions.

Managing your environment

The office environment can be a major source of distractions, as well as affecting your mood, health and productivity.

1.   Effective lighting

Ambient lighting affects both mood and productivity. In addition, light fixtures can flicker, release electromagnetic fog and even produce low frequency sounds that can easily cause headaches, fatigue and eye problems.

To ensure optimal office lighting, follow these guidelines:

  • use two lighting sources in your office – one for general lighting and one that illuminates your workspace.
  • use daylight bulbs for general lighting – these replicate the lighting strength of a sunny day and can be beneficial to your mood and performance, particularly during the short dark days of winter.
  • Although LED bulbs can be pricey up front, they have exceptional longevity and create a variety of realistic natural lighting effects.

2.   Go ergonomic

Having a comfortable workstation is a necessity. The majority of office workers spend their days seated, and the configuration of their workstations has a major impact on their overall health and ability to stay focused. In fact, a UK study pinned back, neck and muscle pain as the single biggest contributor to annual sick leave in the UK labour market.

To avoid losing down time to easily preventable ailments caused by inadequate seating, you should:

  • ensure you have high-quality, ergonomically designed office chairs that provide adequate back support and encourage good posture
  • configure your workstation ergonomically to minimize stress on your muscular and skeletal system.

Managing your habits

Embracing the following habits can improve your productivity, along with your mood, enthusiasm and energy levels:

  • Create a daily schedule and map your day out. Some people prefer to get the most tedious tasks out the way first, while others schedule important activities for when they experience their highest energy levels. Either way, knowing what you plan to do and when will increase the odds of you getting it done.
  • Stand up once an hour. Remaining seated all day can cause serious damage to your health. Medical experts recommend that you stand up at least hourly to mitigate the effects of a sedentary job. Use a simple app like Workrave to send you hourly reminders to stand. Do some simple stretches, perform work activities you can do while standing (like making calls) or take a short walk.
  • Get enough sleep. This provides a variety of benefits, including improved memory, creativity and problem-solving skills. Lack of sleep can slow down your reaction times, depress your mood and reduce your energy levels.

Try these simple solutions and watch your productivity soar.

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