Believe it or not, you can find more time during your day to get a whole lot more work done—so you can avoid working late altogether. Here are a few ways to boost your productivity without risking missing your last train home tonight.
1. Tune out … but carefully. Studies show that listening to music can help you focus, but listening to pop music with lyrics can actually hinder your progress. Try white noise and natural sounds like Rainy Mood, which my own boss swears by.
2. Work for 52 minutes, then break for 17. Time-tracking app DeskTime reports that its most productive users work for 52-minute periods, then take periodic 17-minute breaks throughout the day. Men’s Health also notes, “Research from Singapore also shows that brief “cyberloafing”—e.g., watching funny YouTube videos — provides an instant recovery from the humdrum of day-to-day work, helping people stay productive for longer amounts of time.”
3. Hide your phone and avoid your email. Chances are if you work in an office, you have an office phone, so you don’t have to be glued to your own cell. Same goes for your email, since most of it probably isn’t pertinent to whatever you’re doing. Have set times to check your phone and email: When you first clock in (say, 9 AM), at lunch, and before you go home.
4. Make a to-do list for tomorrow. Taking 15 minutes at the end of each day to collect yourself and prepare for the day ahead can actually save you over an hour the next day. Figure out what needs to be tackled first and make a list in order of your priorities for the following day.