1. Get unstuck with “guilt hour”
If you find yourself feeling guilty about work that’s been hanging over you but never seems to get done, you might like “guilt hour,” as devised by employees at The Action Mill. Here’s how it works: At a weekly team meeting, everyone takes turns publicly identifying the undone task they feel most guilty about putting off, and then commits to spending the rest of the hour tackling that task. As they explain on their blog, “After a few months of Guilt Hour, we started having trouble coming up with Guilty Tasks every week, but we stick with it: worst case scenario is we all go back to doing something useful. Taking five minutes a week to ensure that none of us is wasting time feeling guilty is well worth it. By 11 a.m. every Wednesday, and usually a lot sooner, our whole team is feeling a lot less stuck.”
2. Just hearing your phone buzz hurts your productivity
Even if you’re not looking at your phone, it’s probably still distracting you unless you turn it off or fully silence it. The Harvard Business Review reports that new research from Florida State University finds that the buzzing of a new notification can distract you, even when don’t pick up the phone to check it. That’s because you end up thinking about who might be calling or texting you and what the message might be, and you remain aware that something is waiting for you, which can make you perform worse on a task than you otherwise would have. So next time you need to concentrate, it might be worth turning your phone off or hiding it altogether.
3. The scientific case for a two-hour lunch break
Taking a long lunch might seem like the opposite of boosting your productivity, but what if it actually increases your output once you’re back at work? (And not just because you’re scrambling to make up the time you were away from your desk.) Our brains work in brief periods of highly effective output and need periodic breaks to recover from mental fatigue, says Josh Davis, director of research at the NeuroLeadership Institute. Taking a long lunch where you truly disconnect from work (no talking shop with coworkers or reading emails while you eat at your desk) give you space to let your mind wander and sets up your brain to be significantly more productive in the afternoon. “You’ll be more effective when you come back and you won’t need to work as long,” says Davis.