Finding motivation day in and day out can be hard, especially after the excitement over your New Year's resolutions has worn off. However, there are adjustments you can make in your daily routine that will get you back on track to becoming your most productive self. You may even be so productive that you'll find yourself looking for additional projects to work on. Ok, who are we kidding, that probably won't happen, but it's at least something to work towards!
One of our favorite time management tools is time blocking. Set a timer on your phone for 10, 15, 30, or 45 minutes and focus yourself on an assigned task during that period. You can also buy a time cube from Amazon, which essentially does the same thing, it's just a bit more invasive. With a timer going, you hold yourself responsible for completing the task at hand in the allotted time. The time you set aside is strictly for uninterrupted work. The tricky part is getting your coworkers to understand. When working in an office, especially in a cubicle or a communal space, it can be difficult to maintain your focus with all the external stimulation. People are walking by, there's chatter, a coworker stops by to ask you a question, you hear rustling and bustling in common areas... it's a constant battle between you and your distractions. So what's the solution? Usually, the quietest time in an office is in the morning and conveniently we are also the most alert in the morning (even if you're not a "morning person", it's scientifically proven). Unfortunately, the other quiet time in the office and our second most productive time is around 10pm, which is clearly after office hours. If flexibility isn't an option at your job, you can try time blocking in 30-minute increments for 3 hours from 9am-12pm and take 5-minute breaks in between. 30-minutes is usually enough time to get your most important work done, or at least started, but it's also not too long of a time where you feel you can stretch out your productivity, (i.e. check social media or chat with your neighbor).
Turn off your phone
Turning off your phone is probably the most obvious tip to boost productivity (assuming you’re not using it to time yourself), however, not many people utilize it. You may be someone who has enough self-control to get by without checking your phone when you're in the zone, but the "push notifications", texts, and phone calls don't know that. When you see your phone light up you will be tempted to check it. Push notifications want you to check your phone because it means you're active in the apps notifying you. And being active in apps during the workweek essentially means you're not being active where you should be... in your work! That's not to say you should keep your phone off all day, just turn it off during your work hours or during your time blocks. If turning off your phone isn't something that interests you, with newer iPhones there is a "do not disturb" option that is meant to be used while you're sleeping but there's no reason you can't use it during your most productive hours of work. Another alternative is to turn off all "push notifications" which will keep the phone alerts to a minimum.
Lay off the sugar and caffeine
Sugar and caffeine may seem like a good idea when you're dragging - they give you the kick you need to get going. But in the long-term, they're not so good for your health or productivity. As quickly as you get your "high", you start coming down and eventually crash. A healthier alternative that will still get your brain working is drinking decaf tea. This is a psychological trick used to wean off coffee. The hot tea drink imitates a cup of hot coffee, thus your brain is tricked into thinking you're getting your caffeine fix when in reality it's decreasing your craving. Chewing gum is another solution. It stimulates your mind by increasing your concentration and alertness. If you're desperate for a little sweet fix in the afternoon try having a piece of dark chocolate.
Whether or not you consume coffee and/or sugar, you still need to hydrate with lots of water for maximum results at work. Not only will drinking more water make you feel good physically, but it will give you the mental boost you need to tackle any projects at work. In a recent study, 34 adults were tested on 2 separate occasions and their performances were measured. The occasion when participants ate a cereal bar and drank water, they performed 14% better than when they performed the same task with just a cereal bar and no water. Coincidence or science?