Let’s be honest: Concentrating on work for eight hours straight is downright impossible.
An office is packed with distractions. Everything from loud co-workers to the vast rabbit hole of the Internet can steal your precious productivity and a large chunk of your workday without you even realizing it.
If you’re struggling to remain sharp and focused, here are just a few hacks to help you tackle your nine-to-five with ease.
1. Take breaks.
It sounds counterintuitive, but it absolutely works. Research suggests that working in bursts and weaving breaks into your schedule is crucial to productivity. The magical formula? Work for 52 minutes and then take a 17-minute break, The Atlantic reported. Prioritize your tasks and plan accordingly.
2. Eat citrus.
Research shows the scent of tangy fruits like oranges and lemons can helpimprove alertness. Snacking on them also helps you get your daily dosage of Vitamin C, which has a host of health perks. Orange you glad you have an energy boost? (Sorry.)
3. Stand up.
Staying glued to your chair for eight hours is a surefire way to lose focus throughout the day (not to mention, it’s totally unhealthy). Make it a point to stand up every so often to get your blood flowing. Try some of these stretches or even one of these desk yoga poses.
4. Watch a puppy video.
In case you really needed an excuse to watch these adorable puppies discover the joy of a slide, do it for your productivity. A 2012 study found that watching cute videos may actually improve your concentration. Now that’s a real mood booster.
5. Try the 20-20-20 method.
The human brain can easily get overstressed and overstimulated, so mental pauses are critical. Give your mind a break by testing the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes or so, stare at an object about 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds. These breaks also help ease eye strain, which can occur from staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time.
6. Schedule a meeting at 3 p.m.
The panicked preparation that comes with an early-morning meeting doesn’t do anyone any favors. The best time to schedule that catch up? According to one study, that would be 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, Inc. reported. The time is late enough in the day where you can get tasks done beforehand but still have time to accomplish items in the meeting without encroaching on the end of the workday.
7. Or, better yet, schedule a walking meeting.
Exercise, fresh air, no computer… what more could you want? Emerging research shows that walking meetings can boost creativity and employee engagement. Company leaders, from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, are also big fans. But if that still doesn’t convince you, maybe this will: Studies show walking can drastically improve your health and boost your mental well-being.
8. Do some deep breathing.
Inhale, exhale, repeat. Deep breaths are like your body’s built-in stress reliever. Research shows even just a few heavy sighs can inspire calm. A relaxed mind = A productive mind.
9. Turn off your alerts.
Push notifications are a guaranteed route to distraction. Today’s culture makes itincredibly easy to multitask, which makes it incredibly hard to complete work efficiently. Small changes — like turning your phone off or disabling desktop alerts — when you’re on a deadline can help boost your productivity and power through your to-do list. You won’t be tempted to look at your Facebook likes if you aren’t aware they’re happening in the first place.
10. Revamp your to-do list.
There always seems to be one pesky item that doesn’t quite get checked off your to-do list, making it seem like your work is never done. If this happens quite regularly, try a different method when it comes to tackling tasks. As Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, explains, scheduling your work is way more efficient than just jotting it down.
“Scheduling forces you to confront the reality of how much time you actually haveand how long things will take,” he told The Week in 2014. “Now that you look at the whole picture you’re able to get something productive out of every free hour you have in your workday.”
11. Take a power snooze.
Who said sleeping on the job was unproductive? Research suggests that a 10 or 20-minute nap can boost your mood, increase creativity and improve alertness. Many offices are already encouraging people to snooze at work. Companies like Uber, Google, Ben and Jerry’s and here at HuffPost all offer nap rooms for their employees to catch a few Z’s.
12. Leave your work at work.
Smartphones have blurred the lines between the office and home, which can quietly destroy your workday productivity. Constantly checking your inbox or taking care of a quick task after hours makes you highly susceptible to burnout.
Try to check out of work when you leave for the day. Home is where the heart is — not where the email is. Your workday productivity will thank you.