Productivity Round Up #4: Top Tips from Around the Web

Looking for some fresh ideas to help you zoom through the working week? In our latest productivity round-up, we sample the latest and greatest advice from across the web.Drawing on the authority sites we know and love, and throwing in the occasional curveball to keep it interesting, our round-ups will keep you armed with all the information you need to succeed.

1. Productivity boosters from Lifehacker

Have you ever gone on an organization binge? You know, taken a good hard look at that pile in your in-tray (or more likely your inbox), the work piling up a mile high and the inescapable deadlines looming, and thought: “There’s gotta be a way to get on top of it all… if only I could find a system that worked!”When beginning to brainstorm, chances are you’ve taken at least one of the tried and true systems for getting organized. Heck, maybe you’ve tried several of them in the past, or even several at once.Perhaps they even worked like a dream for you (in which case you can stop reading this and skip ahead!).But most likely you are getting by with whatever sort of works. As a result, you may have had a blend of bits and pieces cobbled together from here and there.Recently, Lifehacker has come to the rescue. There’s a summary of 5 of the approaches to an organization that has frequently been implemented in practice.Here we find a rundown of the much-loved (and hated) Getting Things Done, the oddly named Pomodoro Technique, and the Seinfeld Productivity Secret (and unfortunately no, it doesn’t involve a lot of sitting around talking about nothing), among others.Readers can find useful the comments contributed by users giving their perspectives on adopting the techniques in practice.We say: While the purists out there may want to pick up and implement an organization system wholesale, you have to be sure it will work for your context.Perhaps the best approach is to experiment with a few different systems. Also, discover the best fit for your personality and work requirements. Continue with incremental improvements until you come up with a system that consistently delivers results.

2. Expand your productivity toolkit

“A bad workman blames his tools.” The sentiment behind this rather old-fashioned saying is that some of us would rather place the blame for our results (or lack of them) at the door of the tools we are using, rather than assuming the responsibility for those results ourselves.True enough, but having said that, the tools are still important, right? Choose the right one, and your productivity soars through the ceiling.Choose the wrong one, and you end up, mired in the sands of endless detail, more focused on maintaining the system than on obtaining the actual outcomes you seek.In an effort to make it easier for you to choose, the friendly folk at have generated a list of 15 tools for accelerating your productivity.What’s great about these kinds of lists is that they tend to be updated regularly. They also keep up with changes in technology and the rapid pace of app development, so there’s always sure to be something new to check out.Entrepreneur’s featured list includes a host of old favorites, like project management organizer Trello, content saver Pocket and the wildly, popular Evernote.But there are also a host of weird and wonderful lesser known options, like WriteRoom, for writing without distractions, and the Forest App, a tool that grows a little tree while you are implementing your Pomodoro technique (note: there’s always the danger however that watching the tree grow becomes more fascinating than doing the work itself!).We say: The right tool can revolutionize your business. Quick lists like these keep you current with the latest in app development so you’re ahead of the productivity pack.

3. The role of wellness in productivity

According to contributor Caitlin Schiller, writing for Blinkist Magazine, the Germans are doing something right when it comes to productivity. And no, they are not simply working harder, contrary to what you might expect.It actually appears they are embracing working less … by taking time out to ensure they are taking care of themselves.Schiller cites examples such as Volkswagen introducing restrictions on the ability to send work emails after hours, barring cases of emergency, as one example of new initiatives German firms are introducing to help support wellness among workers.With stress-related absences are on the rise in Germany, actions like these are an important step in the right direction. An interesting read with plenty of relevance for the non-German work context.We say: Wellness and productivity are two sides of the same coin.The productivity you try to achieve always has personal limits to how much can be accomplished… and it is widely acknowledged that over-work can be extremely counter-productive.If you have responsibility for managing a team of employees at your workplace or for making strategic decisions about employee well-being, it might be time to reflect on whether there are any opportunities for improvement in this regard.The potential benefits for employee satisfaction and productivity are significant.

4. All I need is the air that I breathe…

Is office life feeling a bit stale? Perhaps that’s because it actually is! Harvard Business Review recently reported on some new research recently reported on some new research that shows that the air quality within your office can actually impact on the productivity of your workers.The research, conducted by a team of researchers from Harvard University, Syracuse University and SUNY, Upstate Medical, set out to determine, what if any effect changing the quality of the office air had on participants’ productivity, as measured by decision-making performance on a standardized cognitive function test.They found that when they improved the air quality, by increasing the amount of outdoor air brought inside, for example, participants improved significantly on decision-making performance.Although the research, conducted in two stages, had relatively small samples to generalize from. The researchers noted that their findings are consistent with 30 years of scientific evidence on the impact of better ventilation on productivity.Food for thought!We say: We don’t often have a lot of control over our office environments.Although, you are arguing with building managers or the upper-level hierarchy, you may not get much traction on getting your office shifted to a new location, or the air-mix in a multi-tenanted office building significantly altered, even if it would make a great difference to employee productivity.Therefore, consider taking a lunchtime walk and sucking down a few lungfuls of high-quality goodness for the afternoon slog?Finally, you should be able to work from home. Also, negotiate spending a couple of hours with your laptop out in the open air to get the same effect. Every little bit counts!


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