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Productivity Tips

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We’ve all been there: it’s 5 PM, the office is starting to clear out, and you’re sitting at your desk looking at your To-Do list for the day thinking, “Where did the time go?” and “Why didn’t I get anything accomplished today?” and “Did I really just spend an hour discussing why Pluto should be a planet again?”

Trust me – I get it. Sometimes managing your time at the office and being productive can be difficult between the constant barrage of emails, phone calls, last minute meetings, and discussing last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”

While I may not be a *productivity expert* and unofficially majored in Procrastination in college I have discovered some helpful tips and tricks that I find help me focus on my work when I’m in the office.

Stop Multitasking

We’ve all looked at a to-do list and thought “I can definitely knock out this email while I take this important call and eat my lunch at the same time.” Then the next thing you know, you’ve sent the email without the attachment, spilled ketchup on your shirt, and didn’t even realize someone asked you a question. Unfortunately, multitasking simply isn’t possible. Did you know, multitasking can lower your IQ over time and limits your capability to complete a task? So quit trying to be an octopus and do 8 things at a time. Focus on one task at a time and do it well instead of doing 8 things poorly.

Channel your Inner Richard Simmons and “Move your Body!”

You know those people that you see up and running 5 miles at 7 AM? Well, that’s not me. However, exercise is not only good for your physical health, it’s good for your mental health as well. Exercise can reduce stress hormones and may even help improve memory. Whether you choose to go for a morning run, hit the gym after work for spin class, or walk the dogs on your lunch break, regular and consistent exercise is the key.

Personally, there’s a great trail by my office that I walk on regularly with a couple of co-workers on our lunch break. Getting others in on the exercise fun is a great way to hold each other accountable, get to know your co-workers outside of the office, and take a break from physical office for a little bit each day. Just be sure to bring some comfy walking shoes and deodorant, because we all know this Georgia heat isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Daily Morning Meetings with your Team

Take 10-15 minutes at the same time each morning to get the team together and go over each person’s focus for the day. This not only helps you take some time to think about what to work on for the day, but also helps let your team members know where your focus is as well. This way everyone is on the same page, efforts aren’t being duplicated, and everyone can see where assistance might be needed. If you find that you can’t dedicate the time to daily meetings, try weekly meetings instead – the earlier in the week the better.

At ARG, the recruiting team has a stand-up meeting every morning where we recap what we did the day before and highlight our goals for the day. We toss around the “orb of discussion” AKA a little rubber basketball to make the meeting a little more fun. But since I lack even the most basic hand-eye coordination skills, I just stick to handing the ball to the next person instead of throwing it.

Want a more productive career?

Listen to the Mellow Sounds of Kenny G.

Ok, so maybe it doesn’t have to be Kenny G, but some studies show a little bit of music in the background can help you focus more by shutting out the daily distractions of the office. If you’re really looking to supercharge your productivity, try listening to music without lyrics as those can be a distraction.

Personally, I love listening to instrumental songs when I feel the need to focus. Some of my go-to playlists on Amazon Music are “Instrumental Covers for Work” or “Coffee Shop Alt Pop.”

Want to take your productivity one step further? Listen to your music through headphones. Not only will this deter your co-workers from disturbing you if they see you have your headphones in, but it will also stop them from questioning your music choices.

Stay Optimistic and Small

It’s hard to not be overwhelmed when you have several big projects or tasks looming over your calendar like Godzilla. If you break these larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, you’ll not only feel in control of your day, but you’ll also feel accomplished, confident in your abilities, and will, in turn, be productive.

As you complete each mini-task, take a moment or two to celebrate your progress as that can be one of the best ways to stay motivated and productive. So go ahead, eat that piece of chocolate in the break room! Indulge in that PSL from Starbucks! Treat yo’self because you deserve it!

Celebrating the small victories in your day will also help train your brain to be optimistic instead of focusing on the setbacks and will just keep the productivity rolling along!

Implementing one, some, or all of these tips are sure to help boost your workplace productivity. What are some productivity tips that you swear by at work? Share in the comments below!

 

By Angie Berman, Technical Recruiter

Working Remote

Working Remote

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Nearly 50% of Americans say they spend at least some time working remotely. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO, and founder of FlexJobs, says “In most white-collar jobs, I’d say 99% of people are already working remotely in that they take work home”. Think about it, how often do you go home at 5 pm, and NOT take a work-related phone call or check your work emails? Probably almost never. Without noticing, people are constantly working remote. With the growth of technology, more and more companies are providing employees with the option to work from home on a daily basis. Many employees are attracted to the idea of working from home, and they are targeting companies that only offer these remote options. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part-time. Two to three days a week seems to be the sweet spot that allows for a balance of concentrative work (at home) and collaborative work (at the office).

Around the world, there are many well-known, fast-growing, successful companies, offering remote options for their employees. This list includes Amazon, Apple, Humana, Dell, Glassdoor, Aetna, Kaplan, American Express, GitHub, HD Supply, and so many more! On the flip side, IBM for example, says that they feel that bringing their employees back into the office will be more beneficial and lead to better collaboration and faster output. What do you think?

There are numerous benefits to working remote. Working remote offers flexibility and has shown to result in happier employees. Aside from that, it saves employees time and money. On the opposite side, some feel working remote means an increase in distractions and lack of discipline. See below for additional information on the pros and cons of working remote.

Remote Options: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Create Your Own Hours / Flex Hours:
    Working from home generally means flexibility to create your own schedule. Working flex hours and creating your own schedule tends to results in being more productive, and provides the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends.
  • Employee Happiness- Better Work-Life Balance:
    Working remote allows employees to build a schedule that works best with their individual preferences, as opposed to obeying the rigid work schedule demanded by the workplace, which doesn’t always take into account any personal needs. This creates a better work-life balance, and again, makes us happier
  • Saving Money / No Commute:
    Whether it’s an hour commute or a “simple” 20-minutes to the office, nothing is better than rolling out of bed and just walking downstairs or across the hall to your home office. Working remote also allows you to save money, gas money. Using average commute and gas pricing data, from GasBuddy and Brookings, we were able to estimate how much money you would save from working from home full time. Living in Atlanta, it was estimated that you would save approximately $555 annually, if you worked remote full time. Imagine all the things you could buy with that extra $555 in your pocket!
  • Increasing Productivity:
    From surveying remote workers, it was reported that employees are more productive working from home. This seems to be because they can choose their work environment and the exact hours they work. Not everyone is “a morning person”, so those that are required to go into an office to start work at 7 am, may get less done, than if they were to work remote, and start working at 9 am instead. Working remote allows employees to pick the hours when they’re most productive.When working remote, you don’t have a Manager within walking distance from your desk, having the chance to see that you are actually working. When working remote, the only way to prove this to your Manager is by actually being productive and putting up solid numbers. Employees tend to work “harder” and be “more productive” when working remote, thinking they need to “prove” that they are actually working and can actually be trusted to work outside of an office environment.
  • Creating Employer Trust and Employee Loyalty:
    Working remote creates a lot of trust. While working remote has the perks of flex hours and better work-life balance, you must be loyal to your employer and actually hold yourself accountable and still work just as hard outside of the office, as you would inside of the office. Employer Trust and Employee Loyalty go hand in hand and are both great to have in your job.
  • Cutting Company Costs:
    Offices are expensive. Office equipment is expensive, office bills (electricity, AC, etc.) are expensive, office snacks/drinks are expensive, office games (pool, ping pong, PlayStation) are expensive. Companies don’t need to be spending tons of money on snacks, drinks, and games. Working remote will cut these extra company costs, to allow that money to go elsewhere, to more important parts of the business.

Find the perfect job.

Cons:

  • Lack of Communication:
    Some employers feel that daily ongoing communication between employees is a “must”.  Working in an office, where all employees are in the same place at the same time, is obviously a much easier way to communicate. Working close to each other in an office allows face-to-face communication. Face-to-face communication is a lot easier to handle than trying to explain yourself in an email or over the phone. Working remote can cause communication to be tough and minimal, especially if everyone has created their own schedules and work hours.
  • Lack of Discipline:
    Being in an office environment can be motivating. People tend to work extra hard when the people around them are working hard. Most people don’t want co-workers to see them slacking off. When you work remotely, this pressure isn’t present. Some people may have a hard time self-disciplining and holding themselves accountable for actually working, especially if other people aren’t around to watch.
  • Distractions:
    When working from home, you are in a comfortable and familiar environment, which can take away from the concentration that you’re supposed to put into your job. These are distractions. Do you want to nap? Your bed is right there. Do you want to watch that episode of The Bachelorette that you missed last night? Just turn on the TV. Your favorite store is having a sale, do you want to go shopping? It’s only a quick 5-minute drive. Overcoming these distractions would be a tough battle, but they are something you could learn to recognize and overcome.
  • Overworking Yourself:
    Some people may not know when to stop. Working from home can result in some people to overwork themselves, which takes away from time with family and friends. This is the opposite of having a good work-life balance. It is important to work hard when working remote, but just as important to know when to walk away from your work for the day.
  • Lack of Tools / Technology- Technology Dependent:
    Technology is wonderful, but it can also be tough to work with at times. Technology is not always going to work as planned. Yes, it can crash whether you’re at home or in an office, but in an office, a technology fail is everyone’s problem at the same time. On your own, if a piece of technology fails, then it’s on YOU. To work from home, you would also need to be sure to have all of the appropriate chat apps, time/numbers tracking, etc, and not every computer can easily access these things.


How to be successful when working from home

Working remotely is becoming increasingly common. People of all ages and professions are becoming more and more drawn to the option to work remote. Working remote clearly has its perks, as well as a couple downfalls, but at the end of the day, the key to being successful while working from home would simply be-

  1. Establish a daily routine
  2. Spend your free time

 

By Sydney Van de Velde, Senior Recruiter