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11 Quick-and-Dirty Tips For Working Smarter (That You Can Do Right Now)

Productivity tips and tricks for working smarter have nearly been covered to death, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need them. A big part of the problem is being able to implement advice with minimal disruption — while it’s common for things to have to get harder before they get easier, that’s much less difficult to swallow in theory than it is in practice. In an effort to bring some ease and immediacy to the table, here are 11 super-easy, minimally-disruptive things you can do to amplify your productivity and make working smarter a whole lot more manageable.

1. Unplug your phone.

You really don’t need the extra notifications interrupting your chi, so unless you’re making a call or expecting an important text, turn that baby off and toss it in your bag. Bonus: no need to charge your device during your after-work beer run.

2. Get up and do a lap around the workspace.

Endorphins, y’all. Blood to the brain. Stretching. These are all good things that give us a quick shot of adrenaline and help us refocus and clear the cobwebs out of our heads.

3. Chug a glass of water.

A lot of the time, people don’t realize just how thirsty they are until they’ve downed an entire bottle of water in ten seconds. While it’s always a good idea to avoid a parched throat, this blast of  hydration will speed up your neurons and other mental processes, as well as kick up your physical performance. Seriously. It’s science.

4. Eat some protein.

Nuts, jerky, a chicken leg, whatever works for you. Protein is basically edible energy, so reach for the almonds instead of the Snickers when you need something to kickstart your productivity.

5. Read an intelligent excerpt.

Research shows that reading smarter actually makes us smarter. And hey, it makes us nicer people, too. Win.

6. Adjust your surroundings (or at least pretend).

Since not all of us have the luxury of an open workspace or a free conference room to usurp, this doesn’t have to be a physical change. The simple act of switching up your aural environment can help your brain relax and focus. It’s the whole reason why Rainy Mood and other “soundscape” apps exist in the first place — adjusting what you hear affects your disposition and your ability to get things done.

7. Have a drink. An adult drink.

I swear I’m not making this up. According to a study done at the University of Illinois, being just shy of tipsy can actually boost your productivity and help you think more strategically. That doesn’t mean keep a bottle of Merlot at your desk, but hey. We’ll take it.

8. Look at photos of successful people.

Psychological trickery is an excellent way to lose all your friends, but it’s also really useful when it comes to altering your own perception and finding motivation when it’s otherwise lacking. By looking at “power photos” of successful people you admire, you’re showing yourself where hard work can take you. It’s like looking at fit people when you’re dieting, or pictures of your families when you’re away — just a little reminder of what it’s all for.

9. Review a project you’ve already completed.

You can finish your tasks, and here’s the evidence that you’ve done it before. Revisiting something you’ve already done successfully not only helps you recall your own skills and what you’re capable of, but might even give you fresh ideas for the stuff you’re working on right now. After all, a big part of working smarter is learning, and that’s an ongoing process.

10. Play a game.

One of the great joys of our mobile world are the gaming opportunities. I know I told you to turn off the phone, but you can get it back out for a quick Angry Bird-flinging, Stupid Zombie-hunting, or Scrabble word-playing. Or, you can do a little Candy Crushing on the web. Whatever it is, the idea is to utilize a part of your brain that you likely weren’t, so that the part you were can have a minute to chill.

11. Scream into a (figurative, maybe) pillow.

If you have a pillow on hand, go for it. If you don’t, try an alternative like writing down your frustrations, challenges, roadblocks, and questions. A lot of what keeps us working dumb is not clearly identifying when things aren’t working at all, and as a result, feeling like we simply have to power through and hope for the best. Reassessing projects and tasks is never a bad idea, but it’s especially important when trying to get things done is getting out of control.

Dig this article? Check out Don’t Make This Any Harder: Avoiding Business Burnout. Or, you can go whole-hog and try out Mindjet ProjectDirector today

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