Whether you have an office with staff or you are working from home with your startup or freelance business, the difference between success and failure often comes down to your rate of productivity.
That means creating an environment that encourages productivity. Here are some ways (and products) to help you generate the most productivity environment possible:
1. Kill the Distractions
Working on the Internet is great for finding what you need and getting projects completed. However, it can be an incredible distraction. An AdWeek article reported a poll of 170,000 internet users by GlobalWebIndex found the average usage time for social media times was up to 1.72 hours per day in 2014 compared to the previous year, which represents about 28% of all online activity. Imagine how much more you could get done by not checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Pocket app for Android and iOS lets you stop getting distracted by interesting articles and videos during work by letting you save that content for viewing later on without having to spend time at your leisure trying to find it again.
The IFTTT app for Android and iOS handles repetitive online tasks for you so you do not get distracted by sports scores or other content while you should be focused on getting work done.
2. Take Breaks
An article in Fast Company noted many reasons why taking breaks is good for you, including improved memory function, greater focus, enhanced attention span, and increased creativity all of which play into higher productivity. Easier said than done as you may find yourself “sucked” into work and completely forgeting to get up and move around.
Now there are tech solutions that help remind you that it is a good time to take a break. Eyeleo reminds you to take short breaks by dimming your computer screen and offering some quick exercises for your eyes. It also reminds you to take longer breaks where it actually disables your computer screen for a time you specify. WorkRave runs on Microsoft Windows as well as GNU/Linux machines, alerting you to take rest breaks and micro-pauses to help reduce and even prevent Repetitive Strain Injury.
3. Exercise the Body (and Mind)
Corporate Wellness Magazine reported that productivity is most often affected by fatigue, of which 40% of U.S. workers experience, which can cost more than $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity. Lack of exercise was identified as one area that could reduce this fatigue and improve overall health for enhanced productivity.
Numerous apps are available to help with workplace exercise as well as individual exercise regimens for those who telecommute. For example, Runtastic keeps you accountable with your exercise goals and keeps your fitness routine going. Besides tracking running, the company has apps for other exercise, including walking, biking, and winter sports. The Keas platform offers a complete wellness solution that focuses on diet, fitness, and mental health. The platform includes 25 games that exercise the mind and offers information to help with everything from stress management to health activities.
4. Create the Perfect Climate
Temperature matters to workplace productivity, according to a Fast Company article, which offered some key findings from various research sources. As the article explained, “To find out just how much, Cornell University researchers conducted a study that involved tinkering with the thermostat of an insurance office. When temperatures were low (68 degrees, to be precise), employees committed 44% more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were warm (a cozy 77 degrees). Cold employees weren’t just uncomfortable; they were distracted. The drop in performance was costing employers 10% more per hour, per employee.”
To help generate that optimum temperature, stay productive, and even become more “green” in the process, companies like Truveon are offering an energy management system for those that run their businesses from home. You can create the perfect climate that will keep you alert and productive without driving up your energy costs.
5. Stay Organized
Think about how much time it takes to find some of the things you need to get your work done or stay on top of a project. The more disorganized you are, the more time is wasted. It makes sense to leverage today’s technology to improve your organizational skills to boost productivity.
Any.do is the app that can help you do that. Using your Android device or iOS device, this app can create to-do list, send you reminders about upcoming events, and provide notes capability. It can also sync this information with colleagues or loved ones, depending on what part of your life you are trying to organize.
Mailbox, for Android and iOS, is another free organization app that helps you get your e-mail inbox under control without taking too much time.
Due, is an app that I created for freelancers to keep track of their time. It keeps track of everything that you do, sites that you visit and everything you do to help you stay more organized. I also put together some amazing time tracking tips to make sure to get paid.
Staying productive involves your mind, body, and environment all working together to keep you on task, free of distractions, organized, and comfortable. Everyone works a little differently, so you might find additional strategies that help you stay focused. Start with these five techniques, then test others to see if you can increase your over all productivity.
Note from Freelancer: John Rampton will be speaking at SydStart 2015, Australia's biggest startup conference! Pre-release tickets are now available for a limited time. Head over to SydStart.com now and secure your spot!