Scientifically Proven Strategies to Increase Productivity

It definitely seems like we’re living in an age of “not enough hours in the day” – and that there’s no end in sight. With the stressors of this year, it’s more important than ever to dig deep and try new ways of boosting productivity – for ourselves and our teams. Here are a few places to start.

Control Your Environment

Science recommends some tweaks to your environment to increase productivity.

  • Background Noise – Low, constant background noise has proven to help people focus. Loud coworkers and noisy breakrooms generally do not (score for remote working). Don a pair of headphones and listen to instrumental music, white noise or nature sounds to drown out any jarring, loud distractions.
  • Temperature – According to studies dating back to the 1940s, warmer temps can heighten one’s ability to focus. This may be especially true for women, as they generally have a metabolic rate 20-32% lower than men. There’s a sweet spot, though – temps over 77° can IMPEDE productivity levels.
  • Change of Scenery – Execs swear by “out of office” days to help them get things done. Spend a morning at the coffee shop, then switch things up in the afternoon and move to a café. The simple act of changing your scenery can refocus and reinvigorate even the least motivated among us.
  • Cleanliness – Keep your work area/equipment clean. Frequently disinfect surfaces and, most importantly, your electronic devices like your phone, keyboard, mouse, etc. You’ll ward off germs and bacteria and keep yourself healthy and hopefully, more productive.

Be Intentional

Planning your day and being deliberate with the hours you spend at work will drive your productivity.

  • “Eat the Frog” – Take a note from Mark Twain’s quote “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” and start your day with the most crucial, most challenging thing on your list.
  • Work Fewer Hours – Science suggests our productivity declines as the number of hours we work increases past a “threshold point”. So, if you only have until noon to get something done, as opposed to 5pm, you’re more likely to be focused and productive leading up to that deadline.
  • Follow a “Two-Minute Rule” – If the task in front of you takes only two minutes to complete, just do it. Don’t put it off, don’t add it to your to-do list. Just knock it out and move on.
  • Master “Single-Tasking” – Forget the myth of multitasking. It can curb productivity by upwards of 40% because it limits your concentration, hinders your working memory and increases stress. Instead, focus on one thing at a time, do that one thing really well and move on to the next one.

Don’t Discount the Physical
This is one many take for granted, but science suggests that if we meet our physical needs, we can better meet our mental and emotional needs as well.

  • Drink Enough Water – Dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue and weight gain. Caffeine is understandably a go-to for many looking to drive their productivity, but water should be #1 on your list.
  • Sleep – Want to improve memory, boost creativity, elevate your mood AND increase your productivity? Make sure you’re getting enough rest.
  • Take Breaks – Even small, 30-second breaks can increase your productivity by up to 30%. You’ll be less likely to suffer from decision fatigue (yes, this is a real thing), eye fatigue and general exhaustion. Go for a walk or schedule a workout over lunch. Take the opportunity to exercise different muscles and give your brain a much-needed break.

While you may need more help than the above tips can provide, if you feel the need to increase your productivity, resist the temptation to put in longer hours or pack more into your already-full schedule. Instead, take a step back, and think about ways you can work smarter, not harder.

The CFO Suite can help you get through this time when you might need that additional capability or capacity for your team.  The CFO Suite is a boutique consultative staffing and executive search firm specialized in management and executive level accounting and finance talent.  We boost the capabilities and capacity of your accounting and finance department, offering a unique ability to provide an integrated and comprehensive suite of services.