Feeling stuck at work and in need of a spark of creativity to boost your productivity and happiness? These four tools and techniques will help you not only feel better, but help you get more done, too.
Do you ever feel a little trapped in your job? As if those four bland white walls of your office are starting to move closer and closer, threatening to suffocate your creativity, productivity and sanity?
Whether your office is in your home, a coworking space or a conventional 9-to-5 building, you can push back against those constricting compounds, break open the window and take a deep breath of freedom.
It may seem like an oxymoron — freedom in business — but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, by creating a little more breathing space, you open the floodgates to productivity and more importantly, workplace happiness.
Why not feel like you own the business and consider yourself an entrepreneur rather than an employee?
It will change the way you approach your work and how you go about creating more freedom in your day. So how do you go about doing this?
Using tools and systems to create freedom and increase productivity
Tools and systems might not seem like an exciting or sexy way to create more freedom in your life, but they are actually the very ingredients, combined with discipline, to do just that!
By implementing the following four tricks into your day, I can guarantee you from personal experience, and helping hundreds of others do the same, that you will breathe lighter and find more happiness in your current position. (Click here to tweet this list of tools and systems.)
1. Remove pesky distractions
Not feeling up to completing a particular task? Enter Facebook.
It can be easy to procrastinate by hopping on our favorite social media platforms or blogs. Regardless of whether your company has set a time limit or firewall on certain apps and sites, you should really take the initiative to remove distractions and reduce your dependence on the internet during work hours.
Online entrepreneurs already know you have to be focused and strategic to hustle to run a successful business. That means working smarter — not harder. We value our time, so we don’t waste it during dedicated work hours, and you can achieve those same results.
Apps like Freedom or Leechblock work by preventing you from accessing the internet for certain chunk of time or by blocking those distracting sites. By doing so, they actually force you to focus on the task at hand. You’ll be surprised how much more productive you feel and how much more work you crush!
2. Prioritize and plan your week accordingly
Organization isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but there is something to be said about doing your best to plan ahead so you can get an overall vision of your upcoming week and prioritizing the most important tasks.
If you are a newbie planner, you may want to divide and conquer by using a free online tool like Asana. Asana is a fantastic project management app that allows you create a calendar, add in tasks, schedule due dates, set reminders and work seamlessly with co-workers.
If you want to apply this app to streamline your sanity and boost your productivity, the best way is by writing out all of your weekly tasks — especially the important and urgent projects. Once you have done that, organize your tasks with tags by project so you can easily access them later.
Now that you know what you’re up against, start assigning due dates. The best way to choose your due date is by triaging the importance and priority of each task, estimating how long each will take to complete and then assigning a set number of tasks to each day of the work week. You can also batch dates based on tasks. Dedicate one day or afternoon, for example, to completing admin work or another day for only creative tasks, marketing or finances.
The focus here is to make each days work manageable. Having an overwhelming number of tasks on a Monday, for example, will not kick your week off in the right direction.
3. Take advantage of your most productive hours
Every job, whether it’s your running your own business or working in a corporate office, comes with tasks you love to do, and those you do not. It’s the yin and yang of doing business. Discovering when you work best and tackling the projects that get you jazzed is what makes the difference between a worker who feels free and motivated and one who feels trapped and unhappy.
For example, if you work best in the early morning, aim to complete all creative tasks before lunch. After lunch, most people experience a certain amount of lethargy, so this would be a good time to take care of any tedious or admin tasks — the type of tasks you procrastinate tackling, but are still essential to your position.
If you catch a second wind going into the late afternoon, go back to your more creative projects and put in a few more dedicated hours.
If you’re not your own boss, then a good manager will recognize their employees’ strengths and likely be accommodating, so don’t hesitate to ask your boss if you can come in to work at 7 a.m. and leave by 3 p.m. rather than the usual 9-to-5 if you’re a morning person. It’s in their best interest to have you working at your best, after all.
4. Take regular breaks to boost your energy and focus
If you find yourself working through lunch or staying late and burning the midnight oil, then this strategy will be especially important for you.
Many of us find ourselves within reach of a piece of technology nearly 24/7 — and it would do us good to take a digital sabbatical to regain focus both personally and professionally.
While we can’t all be on a lush tropical island to find this clarity, a dedicated 10 or 15 minute break every hour or two can make a world of difference for not only your frame of mind, but the quality of work you produce.
Regular breaks allow us to stand up, get the blood flowing and clear our minds so we can approach business from a fresh perspective. A great trick for the office is the Pomodoro approach.
The Pomodoro technique requires putting in 20 minutes of intense work, followed by one minute of break time. I would suggest something more along the lines of 50 minutes on, 10 minutes off so you can actually appreciate the time off. You’d be surprised how much more you accomplish in this distraction-free time — and how much better you feel about yourself for completing tasks quickly.
Whether you’re commuting to a cubicle or building your online empire, these four tricks can help you create more freedom and productivity in your work life. Remember, if you have to spend the next 30-40 years working at a job, you’re going to want to feel some sense of freedom and be happy with it, so why not take steps into your own hands to do so now?
What is one technique, tool or system you will start implementing to create more freedom and happiness in your current job? Share in the comments below!
Natalie Sisson believes everybody has the right to choose freedom in business and adventure in life and she’s on a mission to ensure 100,000+ entrepreneurs do just that by 2020. Born in New Zealand, Natalie has traveled to almost 70 countries and for the last 5 years has lived out of her suitcase, running a multiple six figure business from her laptop and smartphone over at the SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com.