6 Tips for a More Productive Workday

Scientists have conducted a fair amount of research on the factors that can make people more (or less) focused, productive, and creative. The bottom line: slow down. In the long run, you'll get way more done. Full story: http://bit.ly/1hsEjWJ
  1. 1.
    Stop trying to multitask
    When we try to complete several tasks at once, we do them all more slowly — and commit more errors. And it can lead to a vicious cycle: Research has shown that people who multitask more become more susceptible to being distracted by environmental stimuli.
  2. 2.
    Take breaks
    There's evidence that taking occasional short breaks can help you focus more effectively upon returning to work, especially if you're having trouble concentrating. Some research has also shown that taking a break when you're dealing with a particularly difficult problem can also help you get more creative in finding solutions to it.
  3. 3.
    Go for walks
    A bit of physical exercise can further increase your creatively upon returning to work. Several different studies have shown that brief periods of walking or other moderate exercise increase people's problem-solving skills, leading them to approach problems in alternate ways.
  4. 4.
    Take naps
    In experiments, people who take naps outperform those who don't on tasks that involve paying close attention to a screen for a long time and reacting quickly to stimuli. And over and over, nappers report feeling more alert and rested in experiments than people who stay awake. Bonus tip: the coffee nap. Quickly drink coffee (or another caffeinated substance), nap for 20 minutes or so, and set an alarm so you wake up right as it's kicking in.
  5. 5.
    Try to get some natural light
    Research shows that regular exposure to natural light makes people more productive in an indoor office setting. Studies have also indicated that office workers who sit near windows are less likely to suffer from headaches and seasonal affective disorder, and have lower rates of absenteeism.
  6. 6.
    Go to a coffee shop
    Studies show that for some people, some level of background noise can enhance creativity. People asked to engage in word-association tests and devise solutions to hypothetical scenarios, for instance, were found to be more creative when surrounded by a moderate level of noise — 70 decibels, about the volume you might experience in the average coffee shop. Louder levels of noise diminished creativity. (If you can't leave your office, try the website Coffitivity, which replicates the sounds.)