Every business puts energy, resources and funds into maximizing worker productivity, knowing that the right mix of inputs can make all the difference. In the end, however, a company can do only so much—an employee has the real power when it comes to his or her level of productivity. So what can a committed employee do to ensure she is working to potential?
- Take regular breaks. As surprising as it sounds, the key may be to work less. Incorporating breaks throughout the day keeps the energy levels high and the mind fresh. Research has shown that working in 90-minute intervals may be a prescription for maximizing productivity. On breaks, employees can grab a coffee, take a walk or make a personal call—anything different than the task at hand in order to refresh the brain. The boost in productivity upon returning to one’s desk will make up for the time spent away from it.
- Don’t pass up the caffeine. For most, caffeine does wonders for stamina and focus. More and more businesses are upgrading their coffee stations, so bad coffee is no longer an excuse—happily. Tea is a wonderful alternative for those who are more sensitive to caffeine—it provides a more modest jolt (more like a gentle bump) of energy, and carries numerous health benefits besides. Either drink will help to hydrate, which always helps the body function more smoothly.
- Work smarter. Historically, American culture has rewarded fast work. Unfortunately, this is a misguided approach—what is most effective isn’t working faster, it’s working smarter. It stands to reason: why complete twenty tasks at breakneck speed when, upon consideration, it’s really only necessary to complete seven of them? Speed is only helpful when it’s relevant to the final goal, which is to get the right work done in a timely manner. It’s tempting to charge out of the gate too quickly, before it’s even clear exactly which direction to head. Resist the urge.
- Make goals realistic. Goals that are too ambitious become intimidating, which hinders their chances of being accomplished. Realistic goals carry the wonderful, morale-boosting sense of accomplishment, energy that an employee can then spend on the next goal, and the next one. Writing goals down and being specific are two easy ways to avoid the pitfall of the vague, impossible goal—and to set oneself up for success.
- Enjoy the accomplishment. Many think pausing to celebrate what’s actually been accomplished is just wasted time; on the contrary, it’s a sense of having completed something that provides the self-confidence and motivation to tackle new challenges.