The Entrepreneur’s Journey

5 Things You Can Do in an Hour or Less to Make Yourself More Productive at Work

Entrepreneurs and business owners are notoriously busy. But just because they’re always on-the-go doesn’t mean they’re being productive with their time. In fact, it’s estimated that the average American loses roughly five hours a week of work productivity; lost to things like mindless smartphone use and catching-up on personal errands.

That said, what if you could set aside just one hour a day dedicated to a task (or habit) that could make you a more productive, well-off business owner? Here are some tips and tricks on how to do just that.

1. Take an Hour to Tidy Things Up

Having a messy workstation—or home, for that matter—can greatly affect your productivity and emotional well-being, which is exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University learned in a long-term study. When scientists observed people’s task performance in organized settings versus disorganized ones, participants in clutter-free environments greatly outperformed those in disordered situations. Not only were attention levels decreased, but those same people who worked in those untidy conditions also showed higher levels of stress.

Since prolonged stress is one of the most common precursors to both mental and physical illnesses, it’d be wise to keep your office tidy—or at least tidy-er.

2. Spend Some Time Focusing on Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices are proving to be a secret weapon for success in the ever-busy, chaotic world of entrepreneurship. People who meditate between ten and twenty minutes a day show elevated levels of mental focus, as well as drops in their stress and anxiety levels. Meditation, too, has been linked to higher levels of creativity and productivity. But you don’t have to join an ashram and shave your head to start a solid meditation routine. Apps like Headspace are fantastic tools to help newcomers ease their way into this 5,000-year-old practice.

However, having a grounded meditation practice isn’t the only way to achieve a sense of inner peace. Breathing exercises, silent reading and yoga have all been shown to “refocus” people’s minds in a similar fashion to meditation.

So, ironically enough, one of the best ways you can increase your productivity is, well, to take a step back and not be productive at all—who knew?

3. Do a Half-hour (or Longer) Workout

Regular exercise is touted for its many physical benefits, but did you know it’s equally as good for your mind? CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs who work out for at least 30 minutes every day greatly outperform their more sedentary peers.

Exercising—specifically in regards to weight training and running—is shown to increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, both of which are hormones linked to optimism and creativity. It’s hypothesized that working out helps “balance-out” the brain and help purge the body of stress; helping increase productivity levels in and out of the office. Also, finishing a full workout gives you the satisfaction of completing a “micro-achievement,” which is perceived by your mind as positive reinforcement, helping you accomplish more tasks throughout the day.

Start working out on a regular basis, and your mind (and wardrobe) will thank you for it.

4. Get Out of the Office for an Hour (or Longer)

Coincidentally enough, working in an office for too long can actually hamper your ability to get through your to-do list. And actually, working remotely two or three days a week has been shown to increase productivity through the roof, with some people reporting they get the same amount of tasks done in less than half the time.

But if you can’t finesse remote days into your schedule, consider leaving your desk for an hour at lunchtime. Studies show that sedentary and stagnating habits—like sitting at your desk for five-plus hours at a time—dramatically decreases one’s motivation to work.

Eat your packed lunch at a nearby park or take a walk while on your next phone meeting. Whatever you do, try to pry yourself away from your keyboard at some point during the day.

5. Put Your Smartphone Away

At-work distractions rob people of their productivity—and there’s no bigger culprit than our smartphones. The personal use of mobile devices alone accounts for about an hour of lost productivity per day for most American workers.

So, want to make sure you meet your next deadline or quarterly submission? Hold off on checking your iOS or Android device.

Above All, Be Efficient with Your Time

It should come to no surprise that moms tend to be the most productive CEOs and entrepreneurs, squeezing the most out of every hour of the workday. They don’t overanalyze, nor lament on perfectionism; they just get the job done. It’s this at-work efficiency, regardless of whether or not you’re a parent, that all entrepreneurs and business owners should strive to achieve—and doing any of the above tasks will definitely help get you there.

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