We all want to get more done. But the solution doesn’t always require spending more time plugging away. Instead, try these tips and tricks for working smarter—and the result will be better efficiency.
Break work into 90-minute blocks • Our brains concentrate best for about 90 minutes at a stretch. Synch your schedule to take advantage of this innate trait.
Declutter your desk • All those files and Post-its in your workspace are like tiny alarms, clamoring for attention even when you think you’re not aware of them. Tidy up: file stray papers and keep visible only the top two or three things you’re working on.
Practice saying no • There will always be someone asking you to do more. Most of us have a little internal voice that pipes up when the best answer is no. Try to heed that voice more often; you’ll be better able to concentrate on what’s most important.
Get comfortable • Working all day in too-tight pants or at a too-high desk drains energy from the work itself. Finding ways to be physically comfortable in your work environment can help you work better, says Gina Trapani, author of Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better.
Create an end-of-day routine • Work can feel endless when one day blurs into the next. Developing a wrapping-up ritual reminds you that you’ve done a good day’s work, and now it’s time to step away.
Immerse yourself in nature • You probably can’t do much of this during the workweek, but research shows that contact with the natural world is one of the best ways to recharge. A weekend walk in the park is likely to pay dividends on Monday. Also, try to grab a 10-minute walk during the workday—most workplaces have at least a small urban park nearby.