Useful Tips

How to work more productively


  1. Start doing something

The ability to act actively is the most common trait that has been discovered among hundreds of talented professionals and entrepreneurs in the course of research into the success factors of creative artists. Despite the fact that it is difficult to overestimate the importance of preparation, it is very easy to get lost in uncertain planning and just dreams. You need to force yourself to take action - and the sooner the better. This is important because at the moment when you start to do something, you begin to receive a valuable feedback that will allow you to improve your original plan and look at it more consciously.

While our ideas are in our heads, we usually come up with large and cloudless projects. The problem is that such thinking initially raises the bar for the realization of the idea. To avoid the “fear of the white sheet”, start with a small idea that can be implemented quickly enough. You can gain experience for holding a large-scale festival by having a party, build a skyscraper in miniature, and draw an application for the iPhone for a start on paper. As soon as you test your idea on a small scale, you will have much more understanding how to implement it at a higher level.

Attempts and mistakes are a key part of any creativity. As the American artist and lecturer Ze Frank says, usually when we implement the idea for the first time, it turns out badly. It is important to highlight the experience gained in the implementation process, and use it to improve ideas - to create a new, improved version. Creators such as Jack Dorsey, Ben Kaufman and Studio 7.5 believe that creating a prototype and constantly testing it is the key to transforming an average idea into a product that changes the rules of the game. Instead of panic after failures, be attentive to them and study on them. Then make a new prototype. Once again. Sooner or later, you will hit the target.

  1. Formulate simple goals for projects and constantly return to them

When we work on large projects, we produce many new ideas. This can lead to a consistent expansion of project goals and to the fact that we begin to produce entities. This insidious habit can make impossible the real achievement of goals. The easiest way to avoid this is to formulate and write down the main tasks at the beginning of each project (if you have partners, make sure that there is complete agreement between you). Then you need to constantly return to these goals.

  1. Work on your project a little bit every day

In projects that require a large infusion of creative resources (developing a new business plan, writing a novel, or simply gaining new skills), it is incredibly important to maintain momentum. For example, if you run every day, training becomes easier and easier - the same way you can train your brain. Stimulate it daily, and creativity will be realized much easier. As Jack Cheng argues in his Thirty Minutes A Day, the important thing is not how much you do, but how regularly you do it.

In order to work on your project every day, you need to find the time for this. The daily routine seems like a boring and dull idea, but it is he who creates the basis for real inspiration. In his latest memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, the famous Japanese writer Haruki Murakami writes about how strict the regime - getting up at 5 a.m. and hanging up at 10 p.m. every day - is critical for its impressive creative performance.

  1. Break large, long-term projects into smaller stages

To manage expectations and maintain motivation in working on a project of a year or more, you need to break it into pieces that can be completed in a few weeks or a month. The double benefit of this approach is that the project seems more manageable, additional motivation appears throughout the work. It is very important sometimes to interrupt to evaluate what has already been completed, even if there is still a long way to go.

Few occupations are as worthless in terms of productivity as meetings. If you need to meet (and this is really great if), make sure everyone knows why. If one of those present cannot possibly help achieve the ultimate goal of your meeting, let him go. Qwest Director Teresa Taylor in a recent interview with NYT’s Corner Office said that she begins her planning session with the question: “Do we all know why we are here?” And then continues: “Does everyone need to be here?” To reduce the time of internal meetings, you can also try to hold standing meetings.

Creative energy is not infinite. Experienced creators know that their energy and attention must be carefully guarded. Take, for example, writer Tim Collins. His books Built to Last and Good to Great have sold in millions of copies, and because of his sharpness of mind, he is in great demand as a consultant. But despite the fact that Collins requests more than $ 60,000 for public speaking, he conducts them no more than 18 times a year. If he spoke more often, then he would not have time to concentrate on his research and writing best-selling books. When you are in working mode, do not forget that “new features” means separation from the immediate workflow. Saying no is necessary so as not to scatter the little things.

  1. Remember that even the rules that allow you to work productively are designed to violate them.

The rules should be followed only while they work. If you can’t move forward because of your schedule, try something else. It can be a long journey, a trip to the art museum, a walk around the house or a conversation with a stranger - something that will shake you. Breaking habits allows you to take a fresh look at your plan and recharge to plunge into the work again.


A clear organization of actions will help to avoid wasting time and effort on all sorts of trivialities. When you know what and why you should do, your work will become not only organized, but also productive. Moreover, do not try to do everything at once - we will leave this skill to Caesar's descendants.

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Solve all issues only as they arise, and so your work will be better. In addition, if you know that you are waiting for a rush, turn off the phone and all kinds of instant messengers.

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Do not be distracted - this way you will quickly do what you need without scattering your attention on trifles.

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It often happens that when a person performs work, he begins to respond to secondary tasks. To avoid this using the closed list system.

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You determine in advance those issues that must be resolved, write them down in a row and begin to carry them out in any order. The meaning of the closed list is that you do not add new tasks to yourself until you solve all the tasks from the list.

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No wonder there are changes in the school - they help to absorb knowledge and work more efficiently. Even if you don’t feel that you are tired, give yourself five minutes just to relax - so your concentration will not weaken. But while relaxing, do not fill your time with office games, just take a walk or have tea.

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In addition, to keep your head fresh and ready to work, do not violate the measured mode. Go to bed and get up at the same time, leaving the night outings in the clubs for the holidays or a great weekend.

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Eat right

Do not overeat or eat too much fatty food - it is poorly absorbed, as a result of which a lot of energy will be spent on its digestion. In addition, after a too tight dinner, you want to sleep, and not work at all.

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And yet - in no case do not skip meals - a lack of glucose and carbohydrates will quickly make themselves felt, slowly turning off brain activity.

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Improving Office Productivity

If remoters value the freedom to manage their time, their office colleagues prefer a working attitude and personal communication. For productive work it is necessary to consider:

  1. office design
  2. dining area, lounges and negotiations,
  3. communication and liaison.

Office subordinates spend 9-11 hours at the workplace, plus 1.5-2.5 hours they spend on the road. We can say that they spend 30-35% of their time on work. Therefore, comfort is our everything.

Below is a photo from the Paris headquarters of Blablacar.

Even without a tree, it is light, clean, moderately bright. Lighting plays a key role - it not only preserves vision, but also improves productivity.

Minimalism, combined with unusual details, makes daily commuting to small adventures. Now compare it with the cabinet in the photo below.

Probably, every employer understands in which office employees strive to work.

We’ll separately consider the dining area - there are gaining strength and energy to work effectively in the afternoon. Usually at this time the employee has a peak of productivity - he has entered the work enough, but is not tired yet. To extend it, lunch time should pass in communication or board games. Great for UNO and table tennis.

After such a "discharge", they begin to work with new forces and creative ideas.

Equipment should be as modern as possible. This is an investment not only in the team, but also in business development. On better tools, performance is much higher.

In addition, imagine what it would be like for a designer to work with a braking photoshop. It's like a driver with a faulty gearbox.

Many people in the office work to communicate with colleagues. Thus, they not only better solve problems, but also find new friends. Their communication should be simplified. This will help the common lounges, game consoles, and corporate events described in the previous section.

Optimization of work of remote and office employees

The remoters are a people who love freedom. They themselves choose their dress code, the start and end time of the working day, tools. This choice has a positive effect on the quality of completed tasks.
However, freedom has a flip side - procrastination. A non-working environment and the physical absence of a boss leads to an employee relaxing. He allows himself to increasingly have fun and relax, as a result of which he breaks deadlines.

To be fair, let’s say that their office colleagues also often hang in online games or social networks. And this does not help control by management.

Many procrastinators themselves are aware of the problem - along with the lost time, they lose money.

Entertainment Portal Blockers

Browsers offer extensions through which a certain list of sites is temporarily blocked. These applications allow the employee to independently decide when problem solving will alternate with rest breaks.

Website Blocker - a plugin for the simplest and fastest blocking of sites.

Procrastinators are familiar with this sense of insight when they realize that they spent 3.5 hours on Youtube instead of working. The result - chaotic throwing, attempts to finish the job at a feverish pace. Typically, such “bouts” end in 20 minutes from recently abandoned streams.

To work normally for at least a couple of hours, you need to click on the icon in the upper right corner (for Google Chrome), and add Youtube to the list of blocked sites.

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The plugin also offers a schedule for blocking entertainment resources. The format for making entries in the schedule of access to entertainment resources is as follows: URL hhmm-hhmm, hhmm-hhmm.

For example, if a user wants to visit Facebook every 2 hours for 15 minutes from 10:00 to 15:00, he needs to enter: 1000-1200, 1215-1400, 1415-1500.

Go Fucking Work is a blocker with a great motivating name. Following the example of the previous extension, it will block all the entertainment portals that will be added to its schedule. If you try to visit them during working hours, the add-on will give out a verbal slap in the face, and send it to work on.

Forest application is based on the principle of getting a gingerbread or “achievement” for the performed action. It is designed to help those who are constantly distracted from work by the phone.

The program operates as follows: you plant a sprout, which in 30 minutes grows into a full-fledged tree. If during this time you close the application or switch to another, the tree dies. Successful abstinence from procrastination with a smartphone will result in a full-fledged farm filled with trees.

Cold Turkey is an interesting application that locks the computer until the artist writes a certain number of characters. Perfect for those whose work is directly related to writing texts or program code. The developers promise that it is difficult to circumvent the application, and motivating quotes at the site of blocked sites are called to help in the work.

The program is available for Windows, MacOS, Android.

Another Chrome extension that sets up to work is The Productivity Owl. Its fundamental difference from previous applications in the owl, which accompanies the procrastinator during surfing. She comments on user actions, encourages productivity and closes entertainment tabs. The level of “respect” for an owl is one of the key metrics, which depends on many factors, and falls when the extension is turned off.

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Time Trackers and Time Planners

Unfortunately, overcoming procrastination is not the only problem. Regardless of where and how subordinates work, their time should be used to the maximum benefit.

Time tracking focuses on time, control and productivity. How much time the subordinate spends on certain tasks, and on which sites he sits at the same time - this information will help the manager optimize the office. It will help to find those who deserve encouragement, and those who waste time in vain.

Rescuetime is perfect for working time analysis. Every day in charts - what the employee did, and on which sites. In addition, the program compares previous days with the current. Therefore, the manager can easily determine on what days the performance of a subordinate sags, and when it shows the best results.

Time Doctor - an application for time tracking with a bunch of nice buns. Developers position it as a universal analytical tool with developed functionality:

  1. time tracking
  2. mechanism to reduce distraction time,
  3. monitoring sites and programs,
  4. integration of organizers and other programs,
  5. collecting screen shots and mouse movements,
  6. customer entry
  7. remuneration of employees
  8. GPS tracking.

A lot of “chips” distinguish Time Doctor, as a very convenient program. For example, if an employee is often distracted by social networks or entertainment blogs, the program will give him a notification. In it, Time Doctor will offer to return to work. Thus, even inveterate procrastinators will feel a prick of conscience. In fact, it resembles the ad blockers we mentioned above.

Demonstrative graphs of the use of sites and applications will help determine the causes of a drop in productivity, and make quality adjustments.

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In order not to overload the employee with unnecessary programs, Time Doctor suggests integrating them into your environment. Thus, attention is not scattered over many programs, but only one is used.

The most popular company management applications - Basecamp, Asana, Jira, Freshdesk, the already mentioned Trello, Todoist, Google Apps, and many others are integrated into Time Doctor. With just one click, the leader monitors time through all integrations.

The program has the option of collecting screenshots from the screens. Of course. some employees will not like this, but remote employees agree to this control method. After all, the leader cannot track how much time they really worked.

Time Doctor allows the manager to save the budget, paying only for the productively spent time. Naturally, you should not punish an employee who has several screenshots from social networks, but it is worth paying attention to his summarized accounting of working time. But when most of the screenshots are not working in nature, you need to find out the reasons for unproductive.

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One of the coolest “features” of the program is the ability to enter from the client. Now they can see what they pay their money for. This feature is extremely useful for organizations that offer expensive services.

For example, it is indispensable for studios to create sites. Менеджер покажет из чего сформирован ценник: тут и работа верстальщика, время программиста, решения дизайнеров.

Кстати, продуктивность возрастет, когда сотрудники приучаются к самоконтролю. В конце каждого рабочего дня следует обязать подчиненных зайти в Time Doctor, и проанализировать рабочий день. Таким образом сотрудник подсознательно вырабатывает пути увеличения продуктивности.

В общем, видно, что инструмент мощный. Недавно Time Doctor открыл многообещающий блог. By the way, there are a couple of decent manuals for managing remote employees. If you beat this article, it will be interesting 😉

Increasing productivity is a complex, multifaceted, and almost the most important task of a manager. At the same time, the motivation of office and remote employees differs in places.

For office subordinates it is necessary:

  1. equip a cool office with a convenient traffic intersection,
  2. arrange corporate events,
  3. encourage communication, team games, sports,
  4. provide good tools.

Features of motivation of remote workers:

  1. corporate culture should be used not only on paper,
  2. you need to use time planning services,
  3. required to show that the remoters are part of the company.

Separately, we formed generalized recommendations. Here we included the battle with hydra procrastination and time management. Procrastination must be defeated by radical means - blockers of entertainment resources.

The option works perfectly when such a blocker is built into the time tracker. Then the employee not only tries not to be distracted, but also plans to quickly complete tasks. In addition, the time tracker helps to analyze unproductive time spent and make quality adjustments.

Set a schedule that works for you

A free schedule can be regarded as an advantage of a remote employee, as well as his Achilles heel. When working outside the office, you can adjust the schedule to your personal preferences and change it at any time. However, too often there is a temptation to break it.

To prevent this from happening, first of all, you need to clearly understand your chronotype, that is, determine what time of day you work best. Everyone knows that larks feel the peak of productivity in the morning, and owls in the evening. It is believed that these differences are primarily dictated by genes, so do not be discouraged if you do not feel what is described in books on the effectiveness of morning inspiration. Your option is probably late evening or afternoon. There are also intermediate types. Empirically, find your own and adjust the working hours for it.

As soon as you decide on your ideal schedule, try to strictly adhere to it. A workflow at a certain time should become your habit. Do not allow yourself to relax too much, since it will be much more difficult to recover and return to effective work afterwards. Of course, periodically your plans will change and disrupt the work schedule, this is inevitable. Do not reproach yourself, just try to return to the schedule as soon as possible.

Work from home - optional at home

As a remote worker, you can allow yourself to work in absolutely any place, just to do what is needed on time. It can be your bedroom, a car standing in a traffic jam, a waiting room at the airport or train station, cafes or coworking spaces. The plus is that your employer does not know where you are, what you are wearing, and what exactly you are doing now, but there are also disadvantages: often such comfortable places can distract from work, set you up for relaxation, and not for efficient performance of tasks.

Observe where and in what conditions you work best and try not to change this place. For example, it’s personally most convenient for me to work at home, in an armchair, it is here that I carry out the main work. Nevertheless, I try not to neglect any other opportunities indicated above, and I use the waiting time of a train or plane for productive activities, and not for viewing the social media feed. For leisure, communication and hobbies, it is better to pre-allocate your time and place.

Define a strict end time

Set one specific, constant time to end the work day. Without such a point, you will often be distracted, because you have so much time left. As a result, your day will last forever and unproductively, and the amount of work needed will constantly accumulate. Use a timer to control yourself.

There is also the flip side of the too free schedule: the work is addictive. Do not forget that in addition to working activities, you need time for other things: eating, relaxing, talking with people, walking, hobbies, etc. Of course, there are important projects that may require overtime hours. But you should not get so deep into the work if you feel that it takes all your time and becomes the only priority in life.

In addition, working at the expense of sleep, you will not be productive the next day. No one sees the additional efforts that you are making, and it is still unknown how they will affect the result. It will be more rational to limit the time of work and provide yourself with a good rest, then your schedule will allow you to complete tasks on time and as efficiently as possible.

Take breaks between completed tasks

There are several reasons why you should make mandatory short breaks in your work schedule.

This is primarily due to the features of attention. We can keep focus on an object for an average of about 45 minutes. If we continue to work further, we will inevitably be distracted from our task. And then neither work will be productive, nor attention will fully rest. That is why it is right to take short breaks, give yourself rest and then return to the task again. Just take a break when you feel that your concentration is falling.

Proper rest should not consist in viewing social media feeds. A more radical change of activity will allow a faster and better reload of the brain. Walking, physical activity, playing musical instruments and even meditation sessions - the status of a freelancer will allow you to choose any activity to your taste.

Such relaxation enhances creativity by connecting the subconscious to problem solving. Read more about this. here.

Get rid of distractions

Knowing that you work remotely, your friends and family members may not be aware that you may have a tight schedule and you cannot be distracted from work at any time. Others will want to attract you to the housework, will be asked to help with errands, to look after the neighbor's cat. There is only one working advice: learn to set priorities and say no. Set strict boundaries of working time and do not violate them, teach your loved ones to respect your time. When someone distracts you, say that you are busy now and pay attention to them as soon as you are free.

However, not only other people can be distracting. It happens that our brain copes with this much better. You may have noticed that sometimes instead of concentrating on work, you mentally find yourself somewhere far away or start thinking about some personal problems.

There is an easy way to deal with this kind of distraction. Turn on background music or a TV, they will help to constantly occupy that part of the brain that is trying to stray. Experiment and find what works exactly in your case. This trick will help you stay focused in almost any environment.

Also create the right workspace. You should have a separate room or at least a table where you will be engaged only in work. Over time, this will become a habit and it will be easier for you to tune in to the right wave.

Watch out for social networks

Social networks are perhaps the greatest threat to your productivity. They have no place in your schedule, they take time and make you feel stressed. how celebrate researchers from the University of Michigan, the active use of Facebook reduces the level of subjective well-being at the moment, as well as overall satisfaction with life. At least, first deal with your affairs, and only then go to Instagram or VKontakte.

If you are a news addict (like me, for example), then the same recommendations apply to you. Reading the news during the workday will inevitably distract you. Reschedule this activity at the end of the day, or at least for lunch. It is often difficult to concentrate for half an hour after lunch, so this is the perfect time to read something unrelated to your work. Accustom yourself to stop reading when it is time to get back to work. This will become a good habit.

Let's summarize what you need to do to be productive while working at home:

  • Decide on the place where you work best, but do not neglect random opportunities.
  • Define your chronotype and adjust the schedule for yourself.
  • Finish work at a strictly defined time - leave time for yourself and loved ones.
  • Take short breaks to keep your concentration high.
  • Plan not only your work, but also household chores, as well as meals.
  • Eliminate distractions: do not go to social networks during work and teach your family and friends not to bother you during business hours.