Focus, motivation and a generally productive attitude are highly desirable features of any workplace. In fact, things might stink a little without them.

The issue is that productivity can be an elusive phenomenon. Linked to motivation and team morale, it can be hard to pinpoint what increases productivity.

A paper by Gensler indicated that the most productive workplace activity is focused, individual work. It was also evident that this ‘focus’ work was the least encouraged type of work.

Work can be split into four distinct modes:

  • Focus
  • Learn
  • Collaborate
  • Socialise

‘Focus’ work, as stated by the Gensler report, makes up the largest proportion of productivity. Thus, one of the keys to unlocking enhanced productivity would be to encourage focus.

This is quite a straightforward and predictable concept, but is something which is often missing in the workplace.

So, whether you are a boss or an employee, there are plenty of different ways to increase focus and keep your stream of completed work ticking along nicely.

Productivity as a result of harnessing your time

If productivity were an equation, it would pretty much be calculated using a relationship between amount of time and work produced. In this case, careful time management is a huge factor for increasing productivity at work.

Here are some ideas you can try out...

Working in manageable chunks

Sure, if there’s a whole load of work in front of you, it can be tempting to just power through it all without coming up for air. However, it is evident that taking short breaks helps the brain to refocus and approach work a fresh vigour.

You could give the Pomodoro technique a try. This involves working on something for 25 minutes, before taking a five minute rest. After the short break is up, you should resume working for another 25 minutes.

Learn about your productivity sweet spots

There are always going to be certain times of the day when you just feel a bit more sluggish, and the sofa calls your name a bit louder. Be sure to plan most of your work at the opposite end of the day, when you are feeling at your most productive.

Charlie Hugh-Jones, author of 'Unlocking a More Productive You', explains how “mental bandwidth and depth of concentration” fluctuate over the day. To get every last drop of productivity out of your day, you are advised to “harness your rhythms” and ensure that the most taxing work of the day gets matched with your most alert time of day.

Increase productivity by delaying your reactions

You are tapping away on your keyboard at a pleasing pace when an email notification pops into your peripheral vision. You try to ignore it, but to no avail. Alas, you have now spent eight of your precious minutes typing a response to a colleague which, to be frank, could have waited a couple of hours.

Now you have lost your train of thought with your original work, and struggle to resume at the pace you had going.

Sounds familiar? Maybe you could benefit from resting your trigger finger and delaying emails and other notifications until you have finished the work in front of you.

“Mono-tasking, by focusing on clear priorities, is a far more efficient way to accomplish a lot”, says Christian Muntean of Vantage Consulting.

Productivity as a result of minimising effort and increasing motivation

Naturally, the shorter the amount of time a task takes to complete, the more of these tasks you will be able to get done. There are plenty of things you can do to maximise the ease of working.

Create a to-do list

Without a list which maps out all of the tasks you should get through, you end up wasting mental effort deciding in which order to complete work.

When sitting down to work, your first task should be to create a to-do list which details the order of proceedings. Hint: put the toughest tasks first on the list, and this will help you to motor through them while you are still at your freshest.

Jordan Slavik, professor at the University of Maryland, states that if the most taxing task is not completed first, it will “typically not get completed at all”.

Identify your inner motivation for being productive

If struggling with a bout of indifference, sometimes all it takes to get back to work is a quick think about exactly why it is you are doing this work.

Maybe you are a programmer, and your work will eventually result in an amazing piece of software which will educate people. Or you have relatives who depend on you completing this work.

Charles Duhigg, in his book Smarter Faster Better says that anybody can find a “meaningful why” behind their work if they look hard enough.

Make use of productivity-boosting tools

If you run a workplace in which your employees use computers, there are plenty of tools you can install to maximise productivity.

Take Workzone for example. It allows a team to create a combined calendar, work to common deadlines and write notes describing their progress on tasks.

If you lead a workplace, you can use this tool to assign tasks to specific people. This can be a pretty useful benefit if your team isn’t often all in the same place at once.

Make productivity a priority

Whether you are an employee or a head of department, there are great benefits to be had from doing all you can to maximise your daily output.

Focus on giving yourself the best chance possible to power through all the work you plan to complete.


Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash.