10 Productivity Hacks and Tips on How to Take Real Breaks

Productivity is about maximizing the time that you have in a day as well as making critical decisions when it comes to determining which tasks are important, urgent, or can wait.

For us, it also means striking a balance between work and rest so that we can perform at optimum mental, physical, and emotional levels.

Here is a list of productivity hacks you can practice to manage your time, increase results, and improve your work.

1. A vacant block in your work calendar is often seen as an opportunity to set up meetings or assign new tasks. In order to have control over your public calendar, try blocking off the dates that you plan to use for big tasks. Doing this at the start of the workweek helps you regulate incoming appointments and tasks.

2. Manage your notification settings. Determine what type of alert distracts you (e.g. banner notifications, pop-ups, etc.) and switch that off when you’re doing tasks that require higher concentration such as updating your inventory list or sales accounting.

3. Some people prefer to listen to music to concentrate on a task. If you want to avoid all other distractions while listening to music, try something that is purely instrumental or perhaps a playlist in another language. This way, your brain’s processing energy stays focused on what it knows and understands. Try out this playlist.

4. If you use Excel or Word on a daily basis, it helps to know and use the keyboard shortcuts that make work easier and faster. Here’s a list for creating spreadsheets and here’s a helpful link for word documents. You can also explore apps and other software that help automate common tasks for therapists, just like TheraSmart.

5. Of course, we want our work to be as close to perfect as it can be. However, dwelling on every small detail when it comes to decision-making can actually hinder your productivity. Sometimes, you have to let go and accept that “good” can be enough for work.

6. Surrounding your work desk with colors that elicit focus or creativity can stimulate the brain in ways that we need it to. It doesn’t have to always be an object for work. It can be your choice of sticky notes or the way you arrange your pens. Here’s a helpful guide on the Psychology of Colors to help you plan your work desk decor.

7. Recurring tasks that take less than two minutes to do lets you check off small items on your task list more quickly. It can be as simple as clearing your desktop or taking out the receipts from your bag. Celebrate the small achievements, too.

8. Unless you work in fashion, you mostly need to be practical with your daily wardrobe for work. When shopping for clothes, find pieces that you already know work for you and get them in a variety of colors or prints. There’s a reason why some of the most successful people wear the same type of clothes.

9. Saying “no” can be challenging. Start by drafting a template email response so you have a prepared response when the need arises. However, if this still seems challenging, try this approach: When someone asks you to do a new task, try saying “Okay, I’d like to help you with that. Please let me check which task from my current list can be delayed to help you right now.” You can also be more specific by saying “Okay, I’d like to help you. Due to my work schedule, I will get back to you on (specific date).” Doing this gives the other person a perspective on your workload.

10. It’s okay to take short breaks in between tasks. It helps you regroup and clear your mind for the next batch of information that needs to be processed. However, waiting to start until you feel completely ready can sometimes waste your time. It’s like diving into cold waters. You need to just jump in and start swimming.

How to Take Real Breaks

Our output suffers when we work ourselves to the point of burnout. This is why self-care is such an important part of doing effective and quality work. In order to really feel rejuvenated and rested, practice the following on your next break:

Do not check or open emails of work messages while on vacation. Responding to these types of messages will take you away from your break.  For your peace of mind, find someone who can back you up when clients need help.

Take 10 deep breaths and channel a happy emotion whenever you start to feel anxious about the tasks ahead. Focus on your breath and that happy feeling for a few minutes before continuing with your next task.- Power nap! Taking a 10-minute nap when you feel tired in the middle of work can help restart your energy levels.

Soak it in. Long, warm baths after a hard day go a long way. Disconnect from your phone or do some light reading to quiet the mind.

Write. Journaling can help soothe the mind from stress and it also makes you more self-aware of your thoughts and feelings for the day. Unloading your thoughts on paper can be cathartic or help you get quality sleep.

Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” – Ralph Marston