We live in the age of high-speed internet and smartphones. We have thousands of communication apps to choose from, and our computers are as quick as human thought. Technology has advanced so much that it now serves us.
Even with the advancements made in how we work and communicate, these same devices and technology can also distract us, making us unproductive.
A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that the biggest productivity killer for workers was overwhelmingly cellphones and texting, by 52%. Browsing the internet came in second, with a 44% response rate. Social media and email were also cited in the top five responses.
Below, you’ll find a list of some useful apps and tools that will help boost, instead of block, your productive workflow.
How to Stay Productive
The internet can be a great source of information, but can also be the source of distraction. It’s hard to stay focused when it’s much easier to multitask, but avoid it- a study for APA found that humans aren’t built to multitask and that switching between tasks can actually cost up to 40% of your productive time.
Try sticking to one or two tabs instead of having twelve open. Switch off your phone if you think it’ll get in the way of work. Check out some ways to unitask by Forbes and Bloomberg.
Listen to the right music
Depending on the studies you read, the right kind of music can vary. Some say that music can boost productivity, but only if you’re indifferent to the music playing, not listening to lyrics, and set it at moderate volume. Some might prefer not to listen to music, but just ambient sounds. Some websites allow you to simulate various soundscapes, like the great outdoors.
Regardless, you should find out whether you’re more productive with or without music, and then the kind of music that makes you more productive. Everyone’s different. Check out these two popular Spotify playlists for work: Morning Coffee, for getting ready in the morning, and Brain Food, for concentrating on your task.
Take breaks to exercise
It may not seem obvious, but sitting down too long can be unhealthy for you. An infographic from Washington Post shows that sitting for prolonged periods can lead to heart disease, muscle degeneration, back problems, and other serious health issues.
The key is to not stay in one spot too long. Exercising in the morning is a great way to start the day, boosting your mood and energy while jumpstarting your metabolism early. Sometimes just a short walk every half hour is enough to get the circulation in your legs going. Read this list of exercises to find other, more interesting ways to get active.
Block out distracting websites
If you’re using the Google Chrome browser, download StayFocusd. This productivity extension limits the amount of time you can spend on a website, like Facebook or Reddit, for example. Once you reach the time limit for each social network, you’re blocked from that website for the rest of the day. The settings allow you to alter the time and websites affected.
For more resources and ways to block distracting websites, check out this guide here.
Track time, set deadlines
Sometimes lack of productivity is just the result of working on a task too long and losing track of time. By setting yourself a deadline, and allotting a set amount of time to finish your work, you can make sure that you get things done on time.
Wrike is one project management app worth looking into. It allows you to log and track your time as well as any other colleagues or teams that work with you. For smaller tasks, check out the Pomodoro Technique, which argues that 25 minutes of efficient work followed by a short break usually leads to more productivity.
Productivity takes Practice
Developing a productive mindset and environment is key. While technology like smartphones and collaboration software can help us become more efficient, we still need to develop a certain discipline and environment. Remember to make technology work for you, to assist you in getting one task done, instead of relying on it.