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Work Smart

10 Quick Productivity Hacks To Make Life At Work Better

It can be extremely difficult to maintain creative momentum at the office. That's why these tips are so simple to implement—but pay off big time.

  • <p>The key to success is a constant sense of self-awareness and drive for improvement, right?</p>
  • <p>Cleaning your workspace and organizing your files <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3009650/eureka-moments-dont-just-happen-but-they-can-be-created" target="_self">helps workflow immensely</a>. With everything clean and organized, what else can you do but focus?</p>
  • <p>The workday is best approached <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3010035/bottom-line/to-have-a-productive-day-make-work-a-series-of-sprints" target="_self">as a series of sprints, rather than a marathon. </a> So that means you have downtime--but nobody wants to see you sitting at your desk, clicking through Facebook. What to do? Get outside for a change!</p>
  • <p>It happens to everybody. However, if you're <em>really</em> not supposed to be late on a certain day but wake up on the wrong side of the bed, quickly grab some coffee (or donuts) for your coworkers.</p>

<p>Instant smiles. Day saved.</p>
  • <p>Okay, just think about it: How much time do you spend on your phone each day? Probably more than you'd like to admit even to yourself. If you're going to use your phone use it as, well, a phone--not a tool for distraction.</p>
  • <p>The office smells, and your first reaction is to spray down the entire office with Febreze and install an industrial-sized air freshener. But you're not going to do that--you're going to take the natural route instead.</p>

<p>Pop down to your local garden store or supermarket and pick up some fresh herbs--we recommend rosemary, basil, mint, and lavender.</p>

<p>The best part? You can put them in your tea!</p>
  • <p>Turn the company kitchen into a meeting point, somewhere for you and your coworkers to socialize and become better friends. What better way to increase office culture--and a mutual sense of thanks--by starting an office-wide "free food!!!" email alert?</p>
  • <p>You've got great ideas! You're just not getting them out there--you need to learn <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3015271/leadership-now/how-to-be-totally-persuasive-but-not-at-all-sleazy" target="_self">how to persuade your coworkers (without being lame). </a></p>
  • <p>You what's a great feeling? Being prepared. Take the last 25 minutes of Friday getting organized for the week ahead.</p>

<p>Two ideas:</p>

<p>Set an objective for Monday (as what you need to get done will still be fresh in your mind).</p>

<p>Leave a treat for yourself on your desk--it'll be the best start to a Monday you've had in a long time.</p>
  • <p>Looking to <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3009704/bottom-line/5-habits-of-the-most-creative-people" target="_self">add some creative spice to your routine</a>?</p>

<p>You need to stitch activities that otherwise seem like a pain into the fabric of everyday life. Need some help? <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3014950/leadership-now/the-secret-to-forming-super-productive-habits" target="_self">Here's how to get started</a>.</p>
  • <p>It's really easy to make a to-do list and then just sit on it. If you're <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3015123/dialed/priority-productivity-czar-david-allens-secret-to-getting-things-done" target="_self">really committed to making yourself more productive</a>, put the hardest tasks on your list first. Instead of having a slew of Post-it notes littering your desk with separate tasks, make one master list--keep all your <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3007885/1-3-5-rule-more-doable-do-lists" target="_self">responsibilities in one easy-to-digest format</a> and get cracking.</p>
  • 01 /11 | 10 Quick Productivity Hacks To Make Life At Work Better

    The key to success is a constant sense of self-awareness and drive for improvement, right?

  • 02 /11 | Kill Clutter

    Cleaning your workspace and organizing your files helps workflow immensely. With everything clean and organized, what else can you do but focus?

  • 03 /11 | IF YOU WORK IN BURSTS, TAKE YOUR DOWNTIME OUTSIDE

    The workday is best approached as a series of sprints, rather than a marathon. So that means you have downtime--but nobody wants to see you sitting at your desk, clicking through Facebook. What to do? Get outside for a change!

  • 04 /11 | RUNNING LATE? STOP AND PICK UP SOME COFFEE FOR EVERYBODY. YOU'LL BE A HERO.

    It happens to everybody. However, if you're really not supposed to be late on a certain day but wake up on the wrong side of the bed, quickly grab some coffee (or donuts) for your coworkers.

    Instant smiles. Day saved.

  • 05 /11 | PUT THE PHONE AWAY

    Okay, just think about it: How much time do you spend on your phone each day? Probably more than you'd like to admit even to yourself. If you're going to use your phone use it as, well, a phone--not a tool for distraction.

  • 06 /11 | IS THE OFFICE.. SMELLY? DON'T USE STINKY AIR FRESHENERS, USE FRESH HERBS

    The office smells, and your first reaction is to spray down the entire office with Febreze and install an industrial-sized air freshener. But you're not going to do that--you're going to take the natural route instead.

    Pop down to your local garden store or supermarket and pick up some fresh herbs--we recommend rosemary, basil, mint, and lavender.

    The best part? You can put them in your tea!

  • 07 /11 | SET OFFICE-WIDE EMAIL ALERTS FOR FREE FOOD AND OTHER FUN THINGS

    Turn the company kitchen into a meeting point, somewhere for you and your coworkers to socialize and become better friends. What better way to increase office culture--and a mutual sense of thanks--by starting an office-wide "free food!!!" email alert?

  • 08 /11 | LEARN HOW TO BE PERSUASIVE, BUT NOT SLEAZY

    You've got great ideas! You're just not getting them out there--you need to learn how to persuade your coworkers (without being lame).

  • 09 /11 | PREPARE FOR MONDAY, ON FRIDAY

    You what's a great feeling? Being prepared. Take the last 25 minutes of Friday getting organized for the week ahead.

    Two ideas:

    Set an objective for Monday (as what you need to get done will still be fresh in your mind).

    Leave a treat for yourself on your desk--it'll be the best start to a Monday you've had in a long time.

  • 10 /11 | BECOME A CREATURE OF HABIT

    Looking to add some creative spice to your routine?

    You need to stitch activities that otherwise seem like a pain into the fabric of everyday life. Need some help? Here's how to get started.

  • 11 /11 | DO MORE THAN SIMPLY MAKE A TO-DO LIST, ACTUALLY STICK TO IT

    It's really easy to make a to-do list and then just sit on it. If you're really committed to making yourself more productive, put the hardest tasks on your list first. Instead of having a slew of Post-it notes littering your desk with separate tasks, make one master list--keep all your responsibilities in one easy-to-digest format and get cracking.

Things are going pretty well in the office.

You've hit a good groove and the work is getting done. The workplace environment is even, amazingly, fun. You're comfortable. Maybe too comfortable. Maybe even... complacent?

Okay, perhaps complacent is a bit harsh. The point is, you're no longer doing anything to better yourself in the workplace. The key to success is a constant sense of self-awareness and drive for improvement, right?

Right.

Just because you’re in the office doesn’t mean you’ll be exposed to anything new, exciting, or inspiring. Indeed, for many of us, there is no place less serendipitous than the office desk.

So here's a quick list of fast ways you can make life just a little easier and keep those creative juices flowing at the office.

Kill clutter

Cleaning your workspace and organizing your files helps workflow immensely. With everything clean and organized, what else can you do but focus?

Well, the second stage to ultimate organization is to make sure your life at home is equally productivity enhancing.

You need to eliminate clutter from your life completely. Clean your house (yes, the bathroom, too). Do the dishes. Fill up the fridge. It's not as scary as you might think!

If you work in bursts, take your downtime outside

The workday is best approached as a series of sprints, rather than a marathon.

... it’s better to work highly focused for short periods of time, with breaks in between, than to be partially focused for long periods of time. Think of it as a sprint, rather than a marathon. You can push yourself to your limits for short periods of time, so long as you have a clear stopping point. And after a rest, you can sprint again.

If the above sounds familiar, make sure to take advantage of your downtime. Nobody wants to see you sitting at your desk, clicking through Facebook. What to do? Get outside for a change! Taking a stroll through the park is an instant mood booster, and will restore your energy for the next sprint toward the finish line.

Running late? Stop and pick up some coffee for everybody. You'll be a hero.

It happens to everybody. However, if you're really not supposed to be late on a certain day but wake up on the wrong side of the bed, quickly grab some coffee (or donuts) for your coworkers.

Instant smiles. Day saved.

Put the phone away

Okay, just think about it: How much time do you spend on your phone each day? Probably more than you'd like to admit even to yourself. Now that we feel bad about ourselves, there's only one solution: Make a change, and stop wasting your time playing Candy Crush.

That pocket cubicle may go by the name of Android or iPhone, but by any name it's just as distracting. When our phones are constantly buzzing, they don't let us monotask on the complex problems we have to deal with—undoing any creativity before it gets done. So put that thing into airplane mode—then you can really fly.

So if you're going to use your phone use it as, well, a phone—not a tool for distraction.

Is the office... smelly? Don't use stinky air fresheners, use fresh herbs

Your coworkers are eating really stinky lunches and leaving the leftovers on their desks for days.

Take a deep breath (in a different room, of course).

Your first reaction is to spray down the entire office with Febreze and install an industrial-sized air freshener. But you're not going to do that—you're going to take the natural route instead.

Pop down to your local garden store or supermarket and pick up some fresh herbs—we recommend rosemary, basil, mint, and lavender.

The best part? You can put them in your tea!

Set office-wide email alerts for free food and other fun things

Turn the company kitchen into a meeting point, somewhere for you and your coworkers to socialize and become better friends. What better way to increase office culture—and a mutual sense of thanks—by starting an office-wide "free food!!!" email alert?

Learn how to be persuasive, but not sleazy

You've got great ideas! You're just not getting them out there—you need to learn how to persuade your coworkers (without being lame).

But persuasion is a social skill—and any skill can be learned. Persuasion is closely related to charisma. As we learned a while back, interpersonal prowess comes in many flavors, including those for both introverts and extroverts. Introverts, for example, can be very charismatic and persuasive because of their ability to completely focus their attention on a person, which cues the building of trust.

Prepare for Monday, on Friday.

We know, we know, we know. "How could I possibly think of Monday on Friday!"

It's hard. But (and this is an important but), if you do, you'll thank us!

You what's a great feeling? Being prepared. Take the last 25 minutes of Friday getting organized for the week ahead.

Two ideas:

Set an objective for Monday (as what you need to get done will still be fresh in your mind).

Leave a treat for yourself on your desk—it'll be the best start to a Monday you've had in a long time.

Become a creature of habit

Looking to add some creative spice to your routine?

You need to stitch activities that otherwise seem like a pain into the fabric of everyday life.

Habits are super hard to form, then, because when we start trying to form them, we have to pay down an initial transaction cost of willpower—and since we're innately lazy, that doesn't sound like very much fun to your lizard brain. But thankfully we are mammals. One of our killer apps is being able to think about the future.

We can recognize that our actions today will shape who were are tomorrow: an insight that helps set ready-to-realize intentions, like learning a skill, switching careers, or landing your dream job.

Need some help? Here's how to get started.

Do more than simply make a to-do list, actually stick to it

It's really easy to make a to-do list and then just sit on it. If you're really committed to making yourself more productive, put the hardest tasks on your list first. Instead of having a slew of Post-it notes littering your desk with separate tasks, make one master list—keep all your responsibilities in one easy-to-digest format and get cracking.

Happy doing!

[Image: Flickr user jDevaun]

Slideshow Credits: 02 / Flickr user Bruno Girin; 03 / Flickr user Josh Janssen; 04 / Flickr user Marcelo Alves; 05 / Flickr user H Sterling Cross; 06 / Flickr user Robert S. Donovan; 07 / Flickr user Calgary Reviews; 08 / Flickr user Rachel Kramer; 09 / Flickr user Steve Dunleavy; 10 / Flickr user George Grinsted; 11 / Flickr user Sam Wolff;

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