If you are currently one of the 119 million full-time employees in the U.S., how do you stay active and engaged while on the job? Millions of workers find themselves caught up with email, staring at a blank screen or fiddling in their chair for hours each week -- and have little to show for their time spent at the office. Often, the consequence of their procrastination is 60-hour work weeks and diminishing job satisfaction.
For professionals who would rather spend more of their waking hours getting real work done and truly enjoying themselves, here are six ideas to ensure the time you spend at your desk is deliberate and productive.
1. Figure out your personal productivity style.
We all have a specialized approach to getting things done. The way you perceive and process information -- your cognitive style -- is unique and has a great bearing on your productivity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that working longer hours does not always make you more productive -- it just makes you more tired. Find the golden hours where you are most productive and stick to working during that timeframe.
2. It takes team effort.
Unless you are a lone-wolf genius like Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison, the team construct is the best way to go for productivity. As Michael Jordan said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” According to a recent MIT study, the input of women pursuant to group interaction increases productivity because they can mind read better than men.
Equal contribution by all team members -- with no one person or cabal dominating the project -- is a surefire way to keep staff motivated. Sense-driven and people-reading skills are also a top priority for productive teamwork. If you work alone and are not meeting your full potential, look into joining a team at work.
3. Exercise your green thumb.
The humorist Erma Bombeck once quipped, “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” The same goes for your workplace.
Never work without some kind of greenery at your desk or in your cubicle -- or at least somewhere you can actually see it. Plants offer physical and psychological benefits, helping boost your office productivity. They refresh the air you breathe, keeping you more alert. They also release moisture into the air, making the work environment more comfortable. Plants can even muffle distracting noises and help relieve stress.
Depending on the variety, caring for a plant requires your attention for just a few minutes each day -- a welcome distraction from anxiety-inducing, stress-filled work. Plus, the color green occupies more of the human spectrum of sight than other colors. In fact, it is considered to be tranquil and refreshing. So, if having a plant is not allowed or is not practical, decorate your workspace with green accessories.
4. Take a walk instead of sending email.
Heed advice from Shourya Ray, co-founder of SkyChildCare, a management solution for childcare centers: “While our business is all about optimizing technology to help childcare centers operate more efficiently, we still believe in traditional modes of communication as well. Walk down the hallway or pick up your phone if you need to ask a coworker a question. By doing this, you can save time by preventing misunderstandings and giving precise instructions. Email threads can be endless and confusing, so eliminate them when possible."
Technology is great, but it does have some drawbacks that can negatively impact productivity. Never allow it to get in the way of doing your job well.
5. Stay on the warm side.
It may not seem like a big deal, but room temperature definitely affects work performance. The human body’s circadian rhythm slows down in the afternoon and people tend to feel a little sluggish after their lunchtime meal. The end result is that people feel a bit cooler, and if the thermostat is not adjusted properly, productivity can plummet.
In general, humans are more productive in warmer temperatures. In one study, a lower than average temperature (68 degrees) caused workers to make 44 percent more errors, and their productivity was cut in half.
6. Do not be afraid to bribe yourself.
The workplace is filled with mundane tasks, but no matter how tedious, they have to be done on schedule. When stuck with an office task which would never make the cut for "Top Ten Most Exciting Office Routines Ever," provide yourself with a reward: Envision a visible, tangible treat that you can access only when you have finished the task. Your reward could be anything from a special lunch to a new pair of shoes. Just make sure it is an effective, yet responsible incentive.
When you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you are more motivated to finish the unwelcome task as soon as possible and experience the euphoric endorphin-rush of finally accomplishing something.
How do you stay happy and productive at work?