in Business, People

Springtime productivity tips from GoCardless

With spring now upon us, it’s time to refresh your working day and think about how to squeeze more value from your time. Working smart is something we think about a lot at GoCardless, so here’s a selection of our favourite tips and productivity hacks. From standing desks to white noise, and clever apps to handwritten lists - we hope you’ll find some useful ideas in here to turbocharge your own workflow.

Location, location, location

Being stuck at your desk all day can slowly eat away at your productivity levels. If your office environment allows for it, why not get up every so often and work from a different location. This could be a sofa, a different table, or even a standing desk. The latter is great for health and some people at GoCardless find it really shakes up their productivity as well.

"Changing where I sit, from desk to sofa, to booth, allows me to re-focus in a new environment. I've also found that using my standing desk for an hour or two each day increases my energy levels and productivity!" - Nas (Sales)

For those who have jobs where remote working makes sense, such as writing, programming or web design, heading to a cafe or library for a couple of hours can also provide an extra bit of stimulus to get that extra tricky task done.

Go old school

Why not invest just ten minutes in writing a 'To Do' list every day? This can really help you realistically see what’s achievable in a working day. By knowing this you're able to manage expectations for yourself and your team. It also gives you focus and makes it easier to push back on unnecessary tasks.

As the day unfolds, make sure you add any new tasks to that day’s list so that they won't be forgotten. If need be, they can be carried over to tomorrow's list. You could use an app such as Evernote, Wunderlist or Todoist, or even try writing the list out by hand.

“I'm still a big believer in the handwritten weekly to do list. Once I write things down on a piece of paper they stick in my head much better, plus crossing things off the list feels great!” - Eva (Marketing)

Leverage your natural energy

Consider planning tasks around your natural energy levels. If you’re dealing with complex tasks, such as data queries or tricky code, do these when you’re at your peak performance levels (which could be in the morning or in the afternoon). Then you can use dips in performance to tackle less complex tasks, such as responding to emails.

“It’s better not to try and complete difficult tasks when you’re not at your optimum, as this risks leading to mistakes, which ultimately slows down the time it takes to deliver on those tasks.” - Ross (Marketing)

Staying healthy also helps the brain maintain its ability to focus. That means getting plenty of regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet (full of fibre and protein, plus fruit and veg) and making sure you get a decent amount of sleep every night. Some of our team even swear by items such as this rather silly-looking sleep mask.

Raise barriers to distractions

With so many things competing for our attention during the average working day, removing distraction can actually be the simplest and most effective method of finding focus. Some of the GoCardless team recommend having no tabs or programs open that aren't related to the current task, along with hacking their smartphone setup to remove the majority of apps and notifications.

“More people should try this - it's liberating” - Angus (Data)

Another way to maintain barriers to distractions is by using headphones and playing some white noise. This creates a relaxing listening environment, allowing the mind to focus on the task at hand. Combined with a timer such as Pomodoro, it’s a very effective way to get the brain to fasten onto tasks and tune out distractions, at least for a while.

Emails are another huge distraction factor, but one that’s impossible to get away from. A simple way to make your inbox more manageable, but one that many people don’t do, is to archive emails. It's so easy for important emails to get lost in among the unimportant ones. When that happens you invariably either forget to respond to something important or end up sifting through your inbox, looking back over old emails which takes up brain space.

“About a year ago I started religiously archiving emails that didn’t require a response. It made me way more effective, enabling me to focus on the things that really matter. Now I typically have around ten emails in my inbox at any one time - and have much more brain space!” - George (Sales)

Fail to plan, plan to fail

And finally, having your day well planned out is another important tip for staying productive. But it’s not all about cramming as many meetings as possible into your calendar. You should also consider scheduling in sessions of working and/or thinking time.

It's too easy to jump from meeting to meeting, yet not actually have time to action the items discussed. If you have recurring tasks that you need to complete each week, then schedule them in your diary for the same time each week. That way you know you've already allocated a proportion of your week for routine tasks.

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