There's a reason why they call it work—after all, sitting at a desk all day isn't exactly a party. But getting distracted at the office can cost you. After all, who's going to promote the person who spent the afternoon clicking into a story about dogs wearing tiny t-shirts only to emerge 45 minutes later with newfound expertise on teacup poodles?
But everything from fatigue to hunger to plain old laziness can be a problem at the office. And you definitely don’t want to stay late at work today because you accidentally spent an hour stalking your fifth grade crush on Facebook. Become way more productive and efficient at work—and in your everyday life—with these five steps.
Turn your computer off
For real, shut that puppy when you’re not doing actual work. When you take your breaks, take actual breaks from your desk. Getting away from your computer (and the internet) can keep you from falling into an abyss of listicles and GIFs that eventually turn your 10 minute break into an hour of mindless web surfing. Plus, those who eat lunch in front of their screen tend to feel less full and less satisfied by their meal, causing them to overeat for the rest of the day. For your sanity, and your waistline, go out for lunch—even if it's just to the park down the street from your office.
A good night's sleep is more important than you think
"By simply managing your energy more effectively you’ll be amazed at how this impacts your focus and output in everything that you do," notes productivity expert Paul Minors, "Productivity extends beyond your 9 to 5 routine!"
You know the terrible (and weird) side effects of not getting your nightly eight hours, but if you’re not focused, guess what? Your brain will take twice as long to figure out what the problem is and come up with an actual solution. If you just didn’t make it to bed on time try an upgraded version of Bulletproof coffee: mix a little MCT, maca, and cinnamon into your cup of joe for brain boosting fats, energy from maca and caffeine, and blood stabilizing cinnamon.
Get in a routine
Aren't we all really kids at heart? And just like kiddos, we need routine to keep us from getting cranky. Giving yourself a little structure will help you stay on track. Even if it’s as simple as knowing when you’ll take your coffee break or your lunch, use benchmarks to help you gauge how productive you’ve been. Then when 4:30 p.m. rolls around, you won’t panic and wonder where your entire day has gone.
Seriously, cut it out, starting right now. When was the last time you read an email just one time and completely understood what was asked of you? We spend more than five hours a day reading information online, and we’re used to simply skimming an article to find the nuggets that we care about. But if you’re re-reading every email that you receive to actually parse out what’s required of you, you’re wasting valuable time. Multiply that time for every article you read, and you’ve cut your productivity way down. Slow down and spend a little more time reading thoroughly to be more effective. If you’re still having difficulty focusing, sip on some chocolate milk—cacao is one of the best foods to keep your brain on task.
Get through your daily slump
For some, it comes around two o’clock. You have trouble paying attention, your phone seems to be beckoning to you, and suddenly your personal email account is full of interesting newsletters you feel the urge to read immediately. Or maybe you always need to grab a coffee at 11 a.m., and by the time you get back into your workflow, it’s the early afternoon. Whenever your slump strikes, fight back by mastering how to get into your flow state. Everyone gets to this point differently, but when you’re in the flow, you know it. Hack your flow state and get there more quickly by something as simple as breathing. A favorite amongst yoga-friendly CEOs? The Breath of Fire. To perform this pranayama breathing technique, close your mouth and inhale deeply through your nose. Quickly and forcefully, exhale all of your air out. Do this as quickly as you can for a few minutes at a time.
Of course, just knowing these tools isn't enough—you have to actually put these strategies into practice to reap the benefits. Think of learning these tips as a test of your focus. Once you've mastered each step, you'll know you're ready to really put your newfound efficiency skills to work.
Illustration by Karley Koenig