Being productive is crucial every day — but especially on your busiest weeks. You need to perform at your best to hit deadlines, but distractions and time-consuming tasks can keep you from doing that. Luckily, you can avoid those productivity blockers with these simple, non-traditional tips that help you boost productivity during your busiest weeks.
Make a traffic light sign
In a 2018 Udemy Workplace Distraction Report, 54% of employees say that distraction causes them to underperform, and 50% say they’re significantly less productive. To reduce these distractions, make a traffic light sign for your desk. This may sound strange but can be critical if you’re working in a busy office space. Here’s how it works:
- Green means people can talk to you
- Yellow means you’d rather not be bothered, but can be if needed
- Red means, do not talk to me, come back later or send an email
Buy a sign, like this one on Amazon, and then use a sticky arrow to point to your current status.
Rethink your meals
What do you do when you don’t have time to cook? Order out. If your home looks like a repository for Chinese takeout at the end of busy weeks, this productivity tip is for you. Eating unhealthy food makes you tired and irritable while decreasing mental effectiveness, reducing energy levels, and affecting your ability to think clearly — all of which reduce your productivity levels, according to HealthLine.
Instead of spending money on unhealthy takeout that will slow you down all day long, plan ahead to get healthy food that’s easy to grab and go. Here are two simple ways to do that.
- Order pre-made meals: Use a meal-delivery service to get healthy meals delivered to your door. The cost varies, depending on how many meals you want, so check out this brand comparison guide from MoneyUnder30.
- Make more than you need: If you don’t want to spend extra money, plan ahead when you cook. If you have a busy week coming up, spend Sunday prepping salad stuff for lunch and cook a big soup or chili to have for dinner. You’ll have everything you need to get a healthy meal without spending the extra cash.
Get your clothes cleaned for you
On your busiest weeks, laundry is just one more chore that either keeps you from doing work or worse, relaxing at home, before another the long day in the office. Instead of keeping this chore on your list, use a same-day wash and fold service, just for the week.
In 8 Reasons to Use Wash and Fold, cleaning experts explain that most same-day services now email or text when your items or ready. What’s more, you can drop them off on your way to work and pick them up on the way home. Bonus: use this time to finally give your comforter a good cleaning, without the hassle of getting it into your small washer at home.
If you’re looking to price this out, call the top three dry cleaners in your area and ask for a quote, which will vary depending on how many items you have. Price and features (like getting an email notification) will vary from one location to the next, so do your due diligence to find the most affordable and convenient option. Remember, this should take work off your shoulders, not add to your already heavy load.
Download an app to limit phone time
In the same Udemy report, 36% of millennials and Gen Z employees said they spend two or more hours each work day looking at their phone for personal purposes. We all know — you reach for your phone as web page is loading or if you’re bored with a project. While short brain breaks are helpful, your phone could be slowing you down on your busiest weeks, when you need to be at the top of your game.
Don’t let your phone hinder your productivity. Instead, download an app that limits your access to certain apps. These apps allow you to limit use of certain apps to a specific time of the day or a specific amount of time each day. For example, keep Instagram locked from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when you’re most productive at work.
Here are a few apps to check out:
Another option is to simply turn off your phone during work hours, which 43% of employees in the Udemy survey said they do as a way to stay productive.
Wear headphones (even without music)
Interruptions could be wreaking havoc on your productivity, according to Gloria Mark, study author and professor at University of California. She tells Fast Company, “It’s generally counterproductive if you’re working on one task and you’re interrupted on a completely different topic. People have to shift their cognitive resources, or attentional resources, to a completely different topic.”
The time this costs you can add up quickly. Mark continues, “We found about 82% of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day. But here’s the bad news — it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”
One way to reduce interruptions is to keep people from talking to you. Wearing headphones is sign that you’re busy. If you can’t work with music, however, wear your headphones anyway. Not only will this help block out the noise of the office — which will help you avoid the distraction of co-workers talking or taking walking meetings — but you’ll also have fewer people interrupting you. In the end, you’ll save a lot of time, and stay productive, without much effort.
Get productive, stay productive
Get the most from your busiest weeks with these simple yet non-traditional tips for being more productive. You’ll block out distractions and get rid of tasks that are time-consuming, allowing you to perform at the highest level when your best is needed most.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has more than 700 published articles worldwide. She’s written for AARP, Reader’s Digest and Lifehack and regularly contributes to The Financial Diet, And.Co and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.