Being productive is one of the phrases we hear over and over again in our day-to-day lives.
In some contexts, it means doing work when you’re supposed to. In others, it’s all about cleaning the house during your days off.
Whatever your personal definition is, however, we can all agree on one thing: some days, productivity can be as hard to find as a unicorn in a haystack.
Not Your Typical Suggestions
This website is filled with productivity tips and hacks. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another list quite like this. There won’t be a single mention of yoga positions, sleep-inducing habits, or brain-boosting foods.
Nope. This list will include all the suggestions you’ve never heard before. In fact, most of them will seem like tips on how to decrease productivity.
But stick with me. Give them a whirl. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome produced by these seven unconventional productivity tips.
1. Work Less
What’d she say?! Work less?!
Crazy, right? Well as a matter of fact, sometimes overloading your work plate is a great way to drain all of your energy. In order to keep yourself working at a productive rate, you have to manage your energy effectively.
When you feel you’ve hit a wall and your brain can’t possibly handle anymore, take a break. It’s far more efficient to stop working altogether than to continue trying to make something out of nothing.
Take a break. Regroup. Let your brain come at the problem from a new angle.
2. Play a Game
Might I suggest an activity for your break time? Why don’t you play a game?
Playing games—especially if you can get your coworkers involved—is about more than just decompressing. Games also allow you to get better acquainted with your co-workers. A department meeting might attempt to do the same thing but fails miserably because the stress hovering overhead puts the kibosh on fun.
Get some cornhole boards (customize the cornhole boards with the company logo and the boss will be a fan). Snag a ladder golf set or some washers. Contrary to popular belief, these games don’t need to be played at a tailgating party.
If you’d rather not move around so much in the office, play a card game or laugh with others during a round of “I Have Never.”
3. Check Your Email
All right, don’t do the thing where you stop what you’re doing every five minutes to refresh your Gmail and hope something has come up to distract you.
Schedule a few times throughout the day to check your email. The first appointment with your inbox should at the beginning of your day. Get yourself in the loop with what’s happening. Then, go forth and be productive.
Come back to your email at the scheduled times—but only at those scheduled times. This will allow you to communicate effectively and timely with those you need to without having a constant, nagging distraction all day long.
Here’s another one that doesn’t seem to make sense. Don’t check your vision, though; hear me out.
By putting one Most Important Task (MIT) at the top of your to-do list, you set yourself up to dread doing that task for the rest of your day. You encourage yourself to put off your entire list so that you don’t have to face that big important thing at the top.
Put your MIT at the top. Then avoid it. Procrastinate. Do everything else on your list first. Then circle back to it when you have the necessary energy. This way, you still get plenty of things done. The other way, you get nothing done because the MIT blocks all progress.
5. Let It Go
All topical pop culture references aside, this is good advice in the productivity department as well.
Admit to yourself upfront that you don’t want to work on the task. You may be surprised to find that you can push right through without having to stop to “adjust your attitude.”
So you don’t want to input data into that spreadsheet? Great. Embrace it! By acknowledging how you feel about it you can move on and just get it done.
6. Just Say No
It’s easy to say yes. We’ve been told to be polite and to go above and beyond. There’s a time and a place for that, of course, but we all need to learn how to say no.
At the very least, we need to learn to stop saying yes quite so much, but the words we use are important. Instead of, “I can’t,” say, “I don’t.” Make it clear that it’s not that you can’t do the task, it’s that you don’t have time or energy or whatever other reason you have.
7. Keep Your Goals to Yourself
You’re sure to gain some satisfaction after sharing your goals with other people. But some of the satisfaction you gain will subtract from your original vision.
Instead, keep your goals to yourself while working towards their completion. Then, you can tell people about your success after you’ve reach the goal—and feel twice as great.
In the end, the most successful hacks to increase productivity are the ones that fit your own personal style. Yoga might not do it for everyone. If you consider yourself unconventional, you might need one of these less-traditional techniques to boost your output.