Bob runs into work 40 minutes late most days, coffee flying from his to-go cup. He huffs into his office, slams the door and stays holed up there, ignoring emails and his incessantly ringing phone until it's time for lunch or he has his life in order (whichever comes first).
There's a Bob in every office. He's disorganized, disheveled and discouraging. His daily habits (or lack thereof) delay his progress and put off everyone else's productivity because he's constantly running late or running low on patience. So how can you make sure you don't turn into him?
Try these seven tried and true habits that productive teams and leaders use to make a better workweek. They only take a minute to learn and implement—but their productivity payoff is huge.
1. Create a ritual
One thing the most productive people have in common is a morning ritual. Whether they get up early to work out, have a coffee and read the paper before they even check their inbox, or listen to a podcast during their morning commute, they embrace a certain habit to start each day off right.
Research shows that repeating a ritual can lower your stress and get you mentally prepared for the day ahead. So next week, make your own ritual out of a morning routine you love. You'll be prepared for each day, regardless of how early the alarm goes off.
2. Be mission-driven
Why do you do what you do? How does your current role help you achieve your big personal and professional goals? How do your contributions make a difference for your team and sustain the success of your company?
Before you go into work next week, write down the answers to these questions—then, take them to work with you. When the going gets rough or you get frustrated, reference your mission to boost your motivation and morale. Empower yourself with a reminder of why your great work matters to you, your team and your company, and accomplish greatness every day.
3. Become a planner
The best way to keep track of your time is to build a simple schedule and then stick to it. Plan out meetings, dedicate a few times a day for answering emails, and lay out your projects. Most importantly, remember to schedule time for breaks.
We've written about this before, but it's worth repeating: the most productive workers build in a 17-minute break for every 52 minutes of work. That may sound like a lot, but try taking a short break at least every couple of hours for an entire week. Built in mental pauses will boost your concentration so you can be more productive all week long.
Another thing to schedule in: a specific time to recognize great work. Recognition is the number one motivator for employees to produce difference-making work, and it's the most important indicator of happiness at work.
Everyone likes to know their contributions are appreciated, so lead by example and set aside a weekly time to notice and appreciate great work. Even just setting a goal to write one thank-you card or stop by a teammate's desk once a week to say thanks will cause a ripple effect, and you'll see productivity soar throughout your team and organization.
5. Prioritize your health
Get your health in order, and your sanity will soon follow. Common sense will tell you that skimping on sleep dulls your creative and analytical thinking. But exercise, hydration, and healthy eating affect productivity, too.
Josh Davis, Ph.D., director of research at the NeuroLeadership Institute, recommends light exercise during the workday to boost your positivity and improve your collaborative skills. There are also certain foods that will literally boost your brainpower. Hack your own biology by treating your body well, and you'll tap into some hidden productivity.
6. Communicate clearly
Nothing hinders productivity like miscommunication. And while everyone likes to think that they are a great communicator, there is always room for improvement.
Keep your emails succinct and know when to have a live conversation instead. Avoid common speaking mistakes and learn how to present like a leader. Master how to get your ideas across and you'll stop wasting time repeating and explaining yourself—and get more work done.
Sometimes you can do all of the above and still not be productive, because the office is full of distracting coworkers, mindless meetings, and less-than-ideal working conditions. That's why it's no surprise that a recent FlexJobs survey found 76 percent of employees are more productive when they work outside the office.
Many workers report their home or a coffee shop is their preferred working environment, largely due to office space distractions. So if you typically sit in your cubicle for hours on end, try moving to a different space in the office—or, if possible, take advantage of your company's work-from-home policy. You may find that increased productivity is as simple as just switching locations.
Are these simple hacks surprising? No. They're largely self-explanatory. But that's why they work. They take (stealing a phrase from the board game Othello) "A minute to learn, but a lifetime to master." That's why the most productive people work on them every day—and if you implement them, they'll make you more productive, too.
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom work with the O.C. Tanner Institute. Learn more about The New York Times bestseller "Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love" (McGraw-Hill) at www.greatwork.com.