The fact that the UAE was ranked the 12th most competitive country in the world by the World Economic Forum is a testament to just how hard the country’s labour force is working. But what actually constitutes ‘hard work?’
There is a common misconception that being productive and efficient in your professional life involves long hours with no breaks. However, these could be the very things that are creating a negative effect on your work rate. Habits such as skipping lunch, sitting at your desk with minimal movement and having a poor work environment all point the way to impaired occupational performance.
Think about it. How many times have you found yourself sitting at your desk and staring blankly into your computer screen while getting absolutely nothing done? If so, have you ever wondered why that is? Why is it that we are sometimes the least efficient at the place where we need to be the most productive?
According to research, productivity at work has more to do with work environment and mentality rather than anything else. Improving your workplace performance involves taking a step back, looking at your daily job routine, and making some key changes. With this in mind, here are five ways you can make small but significant alterations at work that will improve your output:
1. Optimise your immediate environment
Having a desk full of clutter can negatively impact on your performance. A report by OfficeMax cited in Forbes magazine revealed that office clutter lessens productivity and motivation because it encourages disorganisation. So instead of having a million things lying around on your desk, leave only essential papers in sight. Organise yourself by using sticky notes for important tasks. Each morning when you reach the office, allow 20 minutes to check your inbox and write down each task you have to do for the day, grading them from the most essential to the least important. This way, your desk will be clutter-free and so will your mind. For extra positivity, add a plant to your desk. Plants create a positive mood. According to Washington State University, they can help employees become more focused and efficient.
2. Have a lunch break and take it outside your work environment
It can be both stressful and demotivating to spend all your hours at work in the same place. That’s why it’s good to take your lunch break outside of your workplace. Whether you have lunch in the building next door or at a nearby café, it’s good to change atmospheres at least once a day. This will refresh and revitalise you, enhancing your productivity when you return to your desk.
3. Take regular 5 minute breaks every 1-2 hours
The New York Times reported a study that revealed how sitting for long hours not only decreases a person’s workplace efficiency, it can go as far as shortening their lifespan! “It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym, if you spend most of the rest of the day sitting… you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death,” stated the newspaper. To counter this, punctuate your desk time with brief walks around the office. Take the stairs instead of the lift if you need to move between a couple of floors. A small amount of activity will keep your energy levels up and promote your productivity.
4. Dress to impress
A study by Northwestern University researchers Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky found that the way you perceive your clothing can influence your mood and efficiency. According to Arabian Business magazine, the two researchers discovered that “subjects wearing a lab coat described as a white doctor’s coat paid more attention and were more focused than subjects wearing a lab coat described as that of a painter’s.” So take this cue and ensure that you always feel good in what you wear. Not only will you look a million dollars, you will also be cutting it with your productivity.
5. Forgo coffee
Forget the caffeine and bring on the smoothies instead! Coffee is a diuretic, meaning that it can lead to frequent trips to the rest room and cause dehydration. Gastrolyte.com explains that dehydration causes fatigue, headaches, and lightheadedness. Another of coffee’s negative aspects is that although it provides a short-term energy boost, it can lead to your body ‘crashing’ when this wears off. Replace your regular coffee fix with fruit smoothies, making sure they contain no added sugar, as sugar can cause a similar peaks and troughs to energy levels. Another important drink to keep at hand at all times is water. Regular sips will help keep dehydration at bay.
So there you have it – five simple, easily actionable changes you can make to your daily activities in the workplace. Although they may seem trivial, these simple steps can better your work performance and – more importantly – make you a healthier and happier person in general. What’s to lose?