Do you start the day with a rush of energy, only to find yourself staring vacantly at your screen by mid-afternoon? Or stay late regularly just to keep on top of business as usual? If you've tried all the usual strategies to improve your effectiveness at work (catnap anyone?) don't panic! Here are four unusual, but effective, ways to supercharge your productivity.
1. Play games
Yes that’s right, ditch the paperwork for five minutes and play a game. The distraction and mental stimulation of a few minutes playing a game can perk you up for work tasks. Better still: combine the two. Gamification is a growing trend when it comes to training and development. Just like children, adults learn through games as well, and also enjoy the process much more than conventional textbook or lecture-based learning. Research shows game-based learning can even be more effective.
2. Go green
It’s no wonder Google installs living walls in its offices – greenery improves air quality and wellbeing. There’s plenty of hard scientific data to show how vegetation sucks up toxins and cleans the air. But more importantly, office plants can significantly lower workplace stress and enhance productivity. According to one US study, people in a green workspace were 12 per cent more productive and less stressed than those working in a plant-free environment.
3. Swap desks
Changing desks with a colleague every so often can give you a new perspective. As well as a change of scene, you also get to interact with new neighbours which promotes collaboration. Socialising with different colleagues can energise and encourage you (and their ideas may get you out of a rut). Even if you hotdesk, picking different locations rather than grabbing the same desk every day is a good idea. A change of scenery can be inspiring.
4. Roll the story dice
Writers sometimes use story dice to get them past a mental block. It’s not really the result on the dice that makes the difference (which may be a symbol to inspire a plot twist, such as an aeroplane or a dagger) but the process of rolling that breaks the block. If you’re feeling stale and swamped with work you can’t motivate yourself to get through, create a lucky dip of tasks and pick one randomly to tackle.
Remember that the mind tires quicker than the body. According to research, workers in desk jobs start flagging even more quickly than manual labourers. You may well have limited inspiration per day. If so, when you hit the burnout phase, switch from creative tasks to more routine ones. Enter that data. Do your expenses. Save the report writing or brainstorming for tomorrow morning.