Working from the office can be relaxing, but it also has a few traps. It’s easy to get too laid back and forget about basic mental and physical health pointers you should follow, leading to a cycle of low productivity that’s hard to snap out of.
Contractors often work outdoors, but there’s always office time – even if it’s a home office. And while there are tips specifically for that, today I’m keeping it simple. The following tips can be applied to almost any office and basically any sort of work that requires you to sit down and work from a desk.
Your body needs an average 13 cups of water a day to stay hydrated. Most people don’t drink anywhere close to that, and end up suffering from headaches, lack of concentration and other subtle issues that could all be resolved with water.
Remember that our bodies are 70% water. If you don’t have the necessary intake, you will suffer from fatigue. Besides, if you’re ever feeling thirsty, that’s a red flag from your body saying that water is required urgently.
To make it easier to remember, I highly recommend having a water bottle near your computer at all times. Take a sip every now and then and refill when it’s over. Your body will thank you.
Organize your desk
There’s almost no reason to have a table full of papers nowadays. Even if you deal with printed documents regularly, you can always scan them for easy storage on your computer.
Keep your desk clear of any clutter, leaving only the essentials on top and the rest stored away in drawers or containers, if necessary. It will make it so much easier to engage with work on a daily basis, as it won’t make you dread the idea of sitting on a messy desk.
Check your email less often
Emails are very important for contractors, but almost everyone who works in an office tends to check them more often than necessary… which wastes a lot of time.
Instead, try to set a few times during the day to check. For example, you could check once when you sit down for work, and once again before you leave. Same for the next shift.
Obviously, you can set these times whenever you prefer. Just avoid opening your email and social media networks every 15 minutes, as it disrupts your concentration every time you do.
Write down your tasks
Some people prefer written notes, but you’re free to use a list-making app (like me).
There are many great apps you can use, but regardless of which you choose, the idea is the same: write down your tasks. It’s easy to get lost with so much stuff to do, and this helps in setting priorities and not forget anything important.
Try not to multitask
Multitasking is one of those things that give you the illusion of more productivity… when in reality you’re just slowing yourself down.
There is absolutely no benefit to multitasking. Usually what happens is that you have a lot to do or can’t concentrate on a single task, so you embrace the chaos and try to do everything at once. Maybe you get things done, but way slower and less focused than you otherwise would if you were focusing on a single task.
Knowing how to set your priorities and delegating tasks is different from multitasking. Know your limits, know your strengths, and focus on one thing at a time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much work, it’s not a sign that you’re slacking – it just means you’re taking off more than you can chew, or that you need to organize your day better. And that’s ok!
Get a good chair
As someone who has worked in an office most of my life, I can tell you that a good chair will be your best friend. An uncomfortable chair, however, will be the bane of your existence. Every. Single. Day.
I live by a motto that you can make do with almost any computer, any desk, any room. But if you can invest in something for your office, it should be the chair. Don’t let yourself suffer constant physical discomfort if you can avoid it!
Besides, not only is it more comfortable, but it will also prevent backaches, neck pains and other related issues in the long term.
This one really depends on your routine, but I found that taking short breaks improves productivity a lot. Especially if you’re stuck at a particular task, give yourself a 10-minute break to take a walk, get some coffee, and then come back. Sounds silly, but it works!
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