The new year is right around the corner, and many workers are making resolutions to be more productive in 2014. If you think you need to download the latest productivity app on your mobile device or shackle yourself to your desk to accomplish this, think again. A few minor changes to your daily habits and workspace décor can make all the difference in helping you to focus and get more done.
Jenny Gauld, an interior designer for office furniture and accessory retailer turnstone, offered seven simple ways to jump-start your productivity today:
Devote some time to ignoring emails. Receiving email alerts can be distracting. When working on a tight deadline, consider setting up an out-of-office reply for a few hours or an afternoon. For example, you could say, "I am currently working on a tight deadline and may be slow to respond to your message." [10 Tips to Improve Productivity at Work]
Move around. Don't limit yourself to your primary desk chair. Spend portions of the workday standing or working at height-adjusted work surfaces. Take your next conference call as a walking call.
Streamline your space. Tidy up and remove unneeded papers, old meeting notes and yesterday's lunch. Having an organized work area fosters focus.
Have a jam session at your desk. Wearing headphones doesn't always mean you're antisocial. When working, listening to your favorite tunes can help you get into the zone and knock out your to-do list.
Take short breaks. Whether it's a walk around the block, a run to the nearby coffee shop, reading a magazine or visiting with a colleague, short breaks — about 10 to 15 minutes every two hours — help improve circulation while reducing eyestrain and buildup of muscle tension. Stepping away from something you're working on can also provide you with a new perspective when you return.
Add pops of color and/or live plants. Color can have a major effect on your mood and productivity throughout the day. Blue creates the feeling of calmness and helps you focus, while red is great for work that requires accuracy and attention to detail. Plants can also help people focus by reducing headaches and fatigue: A study from Texas A&M University found that plants increase workplace productivity and creative performance by up to 30 percent.
Decorate your workspace. Add meaningful career memorabilia, such as diplomas and awards, and other decorative items that make you feel successful, appreciated and driven.
Mix it up. If your employer allows it, take one day a week to work from a different environment like a coffee shop or a co-working space. The change of scenery and interaction with other people may give you a sense of renewed energy. If you can't work out of the office, try finding a quiet space away from other distractions where you can fully focus.
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