As the summer weather starts to dwindle and we all flock back from our sun-soaked vacations, it usually proves difficult to get back into the swing of things, as you find yourself sitting back at your desk and wondering just what it was you did on a daily basis 2 weeks ago. Much like the refresh you have with your work wardrobe, it can help to give your work routine a little upgrade. These tips from outsourcing platform Airtasker are key to killer productivity.
Look around your desk right now. Is it organised chaos, or just plain chaos? A cluttered brain and a cluttered to-do list don’t do much for productivity.
Here are 10 genuinely useful office assistance hacks to help you get organised and do more.
Clean between keyboard keys with tape and a toothbrush
There’s been a few different tests on this, but the consensus is your keyboard has over 3000 more germs per square inch than an actual toilet seat.
Use some sticky tape to pick up crumbs and even a toothbrush can come in handy to dust between the keys, then an antibacterial wipe to sort those germs out.
Stick time slots on your water bottle
You’ll have heard just about every fitness influencer stressing about how drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water a day is a smart choice, however us mere mortals know this is more difficult to actually do than it sounds. With the autumn/winter months approaching, all you want is a hot chocolate or a good old builder’s tea.
Not only will drinking more water ward of the need for snacking, since your brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you in a number of ways, including improving concentration and cognition.
The best way to challenge yourself in to doing this is to get yourself a refillable water bottle (which we’re sure you own because you care about plastic’s damaging impact on the environment), and mark 1-2 hour time slots on it. You’ll also know at a glance if your water-drinking is behind schedule.
Choose a plant for your desk
Just because it’s your work desk, that doesn’t mean to can’t add your own little personal touch or even a little life to it. Some desks are a bit sad and dreary, even in the most cool and innovative offices spaces. According to the University of Exeter, plants can improve wellbeing by up to 47% and improve creativity by 45%. Searches for ‘air purifying plants’ and ‘aloe vera’ were up a whopping 550% year on year in 2017.
Try a peace lily, bamboo, bonsai, or a succulent. The last one hardly needs watering.
Learn keyboard shortcuts
Keyboard shortcuts can help you screenshot, change your font size, or drag an email back from the jaws of being sent too early.
While you’re learning them all, pin a handy chart to the wall in front of you. This cheat sheet is for both PCs and Macs. Soon though, they’ll become muscle memory.
Schedule time for emails
It’s estimated we spend over 2 hours a day reading and answering emails. That’s a bit disturbing when you think about how much office admin you can do in 2 whole hours.
Considering it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 second to get back to the task when interrupted by something it’s worth also blocking out a certain time of the day that you use specifically for team meeting and replying to emails.
Allocate a specific time of day for answering emails, rather than swapping between tasks and breaking concentration. For immediate stuff, there’s instant messaging, or even a quick chat.
Tidy up leads and wires
There are lots of ways to keep cables out of view. Two of the simplest involve attaching bulldog clips or plastic picture hangers to the back of your desk. Just fix the wires to the desk legs and feed down to the plug sockets.
If you want to go full Pinterest, label tab stickers to identify what each lead is for and where it’s plugged in.
Keep a notepad for ideas and reminders
Ideas can hit at any time and we all know that even if we say we will, we will not remember them the next day. Buy a small notebook and jot down anything you want to remember or use later. It’s particularly useful when you’re on the phone and madly searching for a post-it.
When you’re stuck for inspiration, or just want to jog your memory, refer back to it.
Ignore notifications. Temporarily…
If you really need to focus, you don’t need productivity apps or notification blockers. Just turn your phone to silent and put it face down in a drawer.
It feels strange at first, but push notifications continually distract us, and app developers keep giving us more and more to look at.
Stand up every hour
The NHS advise we “move more, sit less“. It you’re often at a desk, it could be slowing down your metabolism and weakening your muscles and bones gradually over time.
Stand up every hour, even just for a few minutes. Take calls on your feet, walk for 20 minutes at lunchtime, and park further away from the front door.
Remember, multitasking is a myth
It’s virtually impossible for a human to focus on more than 1 thing at once and do them both well. Our brain just switches between tasks quickly, pausing one and picking up the other.
Have a to-do list, do each task individually, and tick them off. You’ll work through it far faster.
We spend a lot of time in the office and at our desk. Make that time count and keep your admin to a minimum. Oh, and once again, drink more water.
Sources for the statistics mentioned include www.airtasker.co.uk, thejoyofplants.co.uk, https://www.printerland.co.uk/germs-in-your-firm-E412.aspx, NHS UK, West and Proud, Forbes.com, wired.com, Brain MD Health, Department of Informatics at the University of California and NHS UK.