15 Hacks for a More Productive Work Day

Everyone wants to have a better and more productive day. Here are 15 proven hacks to break through the daily regimen and add more positivity and energy to your work day.

1. Clean Up!

My mother always told me, “mess creates stress” and I couldn’t agree more. Doing a clean sweep of all clutter on your desk will help reduce stress while enabling you to find things in a more effective and time-efficient manner.

A study conducted by neuroscientists at Princeton University found that when professionals were exposed to an organized vs. disorganized/cluttered work station, their productivity increased with a massive decline in productivity in a disorganized workspace. Physical clutter actually competes for your attention, resulting in stress. Clutter knocks your stress hormones into overdrive and impairs your ability to think creatively.


2. Organize

Going along with cleaning up, organizing meeting notes and project details into color-coordinated folders will make your work station more aesthetically pleasing and enjoyable to work in. Try filing folders away and labeling them for easy access—this will get them out of sight and out of mind until you need the information in the files.


3. 20% Rule

This interesting productivity rule was published in an article by Fast Company, 15 Habits That Will Totally Transform Your Productivity. The rule suggests to save at least 20% of your day for top-priority projects. In an 8-hour workday, 90 minutes should be booked for the most important tasks. Scheduling this time and blocking it off on your calendar will make sure you don’t get taken away by other meetings or conversations. If you need more time—block off the entire afternoon!


4. Control Those Emails!

If you are like me, you probably feel like your inbox controls you with hundreds of new emails each day. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone! I found this excellent resource with email management tips from Forbes5 Ways to Take Control of Your Email.

  • Turn Off Notifications - those pop-ups seem to surge anxiety through me every time I receive an email. Turn them off to prevent the distraction and urge to review and respond to the emails.
  • Schedule Check-ins - minimize interruptions by checking in on emails every hour or at specific times during the day. 
  • Communicate via Phone/Person - avoid sending emails and you will avoid receiving them! Does the person you are communicating with work with you? Run over to their desk and bounce some ideas off of them in person, this is usually more productive than an email communication anyways. Or, pick up the phone and call the individual, the human touch and conversation can also help morale/motivation.
  • Sort Your Inbox - if you use emails as reminders for various things, use your “categories” tool to color coordinate and sort into various categories and file away in folders. 


5. Cut Distractions

Did you know that your cell phone is probably your biggest distraction at work? Cell phones, texting, internet, gossip, social media, email and snack/coffee breaks are the most common things to distract you from priority projects. Try turning your phone off during the day (you have a work phone, right?) and avoid the internet unless required for your job responsibilities… check out these distraction statistics:

  • Average time spent on a task before being interrupted: 12 minutes
  • Average time elapsed before returning to work on the same task: 25 minutes
  • Average time to regain focus: 15 minutes


6. Hit the Road, Jack!

Exercise improves health and boosts productivity. Try going for a 20-minute walk on your lunch break to get some sunshine and you will return to work with more energy than sitting at a table and eating alone.

Your brain function can increase up to 5% after physical activity. When your brain is functioning at full capacity, you will make better decisions with increased focus, critical to being effective and efficient at work.


7. It's Okay to Say "No"

Well, in a nice and respectful manner… most of us have a built-in desire to be liked which sometimes causes us to stretch ourselves too thin in saying “yes” to every request. Don’t be afraid to step back and respectfully decline if you have a full list of tasks already.


8. Hydrate Yourself

Here’s a mini health lesson for you:

Hydration is an essential part of cellular regeneration—proper hydration keeps your blood at the right consistency and volume allowing for:

  • Efficient delivery of oxygen to muscles
  • Removal of waste
  • Proper hormone distribution

When you are properly hydrated, you’ll have far more energy and accomplish more.


9. Establish a Routine

If your arrival/departure varies each day along with your job responsibilities, a routine may benefit you.

The morning is the most important time of day to start a routine in order to begin and remain productive. Try starting a healthy morning routine followed up with arriving 5 minutes early to plan your day and read through emails. Then, put your emails and cell phone aside and get at it!


10. Make it Fun!

The most common reason people procrastinate is because they find the task boring and have trouble motivating themselves to get started. Create a personal challenge, like completing the daily data-entry project in under 30 minutes. Continue to challenge yourself to make those daunting tasks more interesting!


11. Motivate Others

 According to a study by Gallup, companies that engage their workforce noticed a…

  • 65% decrease in turnover
  • 21% surge in productivity
  • 10% increase in customer ratings

Maintaining a great attitude is contagious. Others will notice and benefit from your positive energy, making the workplace not only productive, but a really pleasant place to be.


12. Multitasking Dulls Your Sparkle

Multitasking has been proven to lower our IQ by an average of 5 points and decrease productivity by as much as 40%—proving that managing multiple things at once isn’t as effective along with it being more stressful. Try focusing on one singular thing at a time. You will notice your productivity increase along with the quality of your work!


13. Batch Those Tasks

After you have practiced direct focus and have become successful at avoiding multitasking, try batching similar tasks together. Schedule similar projects back to back so you don’t have to switch gears in thinking and you can Segway into the next project with more focus and stamina.


14. Daily Idea Dump

This is my favorite tool because at the end of the day, I feel the need to organize my thoughts and write them down for the next day of productivity. Grab a pen and paper and write down every idea, errand and thought that crosses your mind. You can prioritize and sort them based on relevance and topic but the idea is to do this daily in order to stay focused throughout the week.


15. Hire Help!

I know this one is a bit of a handful to imagine, but if you are under the gun frequently to get things done, missing deadlines and stressing out—enlisting help might be the most beneficial tool on this list!

Extract Systems provides a solution to make structured data out of unstructured data through document classification, automated redaction and data capture. We have saved hundreds of thousands of hours (if not millions) with our automated processes. Interested in learning how we can help your organization? Reach out to us and we will schedule a demo!

Name *

About the Author: Chantel Soumis

Chantel Soumis studied marketing communications and business administration at Franklin University and proceeded to work in a fast, ambitious environment, assuring client delight. Passionate about productivity and streamlining workflows through the use of technology, Chantel strives to spread the knowledge of Extract’s advanced OCR solution.