No matter where you work, whether it’s at the office, a home office, a coworking space or somewhere else, you want to be as efficient and productive during work hours as possible. But with so many distractions to contend with during the day, that’s easier said than done. A 2024 Robert Half survey of more than 700 professionals across Canada revealed that 48 per cent of workers are content maintaining their current hybrid work environment in the first half of the year. Of the group surveyed, 24 per cent wanted to increase the amount of in-office work, stating they’re more productive in an office environment. On the flipside, 47 per cent of the opposing group, workers who wanted to decrease the amount of in-office time, found their situation more productive for work. What this means for readers: hybrid work is here to stay in 2024 and your focus should be learning how to boost productivity on-the-job regardless of where you work from. Robert Half Canada has collected 15 tips that can help you work better from anywhere. Use any or all these strategies to help enhance your focus, do more in less time and feel the satisfaction of actually getting things done.
1. Condense your daily to-do list Too often, people overestimate what they can accomplish at work and become frustrated by their lack of progress. Try using a shorter, more realistic to-do list daily that leaves room for unexpected projects and interruptions. It will help you be more productive!   2. Aim for quality, not quantity Multitasking seems like a surefire way to increase productivity, but repeatedly switching gears is mentally taxing and can slow you down. Do your best to focus on one item at a time.   3. Implement a formal time management strategy Consider using well-known time-management approaches to help structure your work (which can also help you avoid the stress and inefficiency of multitasking). The Pomodoro Technique is just one example of a time management strategy for improving your focus during the workday. You engage in work sessions of 25 minutes each; after each session, you take a five-minute break. It’s a win-win: You get more done and give yourself time throughout the day to recharge.   4. Take advantage of apps No one said you had to do it all yourself. A wide selection of software is available to help people increase their productivity, keep track of projects, meet deadlines and be more organized. A quick internet search will reveal many options (including free ones!) that you can use to keep your work flowing and tasks on schedule, such as: Trello Asana Todoist Check to see if your company has special software already built in to your computer that you can use! Like Microsoft Planner.   5. Know your prime time for productivity Use your internal clock to your advantage by tackling critical or challenging assignments during the time of day when you’re most alert and productive. Ever heard of deep sleep? During your prime time for productivity, you're more likely to experience a state of ‘deep work’, where you can concentrate intensely and achieve significant progress. It looks different for everyone, so you might need to spend a few days figuring our when your prime time at work is. Tip: Schedule demanding or creative tasks when your brain is at it’s sharpest and leave tasks like emails or data-entry for non-peak times.   6. Decrease interruptions (to the extent possible) When you’re working on important assignments, you can boost productivity exponentially by turning off mobile devices and signing out of personal email and social media. Doing so allows you to give full attention to the task at hand. Let your coworkers know when you would prefer not to be interrupted and that you may be delayed in responding to their correspondence while you’re working “in the zone.” For example, if your team uses a messaging app like Slack or Teams, you could set your online status to “busy.” Or you could simply block off time on your shared calendar for work to note when you’re unavailable.   7. Break down big projects into smaller tasks Intimidation can lead to putting off work just because you feel like you can’t deal with it or sometimes it can inhibit you from starting a task altogether! So, break big, complicated projects into more manageable “chunks.” You’ll feel less overwhelmed. Plus, you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment each time you reach an incremental milestone. (Another tip: Work through the most complex tasks first if you can, so when you hit the home stretch on your project, you aren’t facing a massive wall of challenging work.) Are you a manager with a team that’s feeling burnt out? Learn 5 Ways to Improve Employee Mental Health today.   8. Just say ‘no’ (so you can say ‘yes’ to productivity) Sometimes you simply can’t take on another assignment, no matter how small. Allow yourself to say “no” to work that others may try to drop on you. While you want to build a reputation as a team player, you don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. A great way to combat any potential backlash from saying no, is to be transparent with what your team and manager so they know what you have on the go.   9. Stay on course while being productive Be disciplined when using the internet during work hours. We know it is all too easy to get distracted from your core focus — reading an industry report, for example — and suddenly find yourself perusing a popular online shopping destination or checking out what your favorite celeb has been posting on Instagram. Next thing you know, an hour has gone by — and you’re off-schedule. Did you know, constantly getting sidetracked by browsing online not only disrupts your focus, it takes more time afterward to regain your concentration to the original task. Ultimately this can put you at risk with your manager, so try your best to stay productive.   10. Mitigate meeting mania Author and columnist Dave Barry once observed: “If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings.” Unnecessary calls and meetings followed-up by conversations with colleagues, can be very disruptive to your workflow. The time spent transitioning between meetings and refocusing on individual tasks again can be significant, especially for complex projects. Fewer meetings allow for longer stretches of uninterrupted work time, encouraging deeper focus and improved efficiency. So, consider rethinking the need for routine meetings that have outlived their purpose. Or, try to cut meeting times by 25 per cent to force yourself and others to stay on point. Try to avoid scheduling video calls with colleagues to talk through matters you could easily address in a quick email.   11. Give yourself a break It may sound counterintuitive, but taking time to unplug and recharge can help you get more done. Solutions to complex problems often surface when you’re not intently focused on the issue. Just stepping away from your desk to get some fresh air or checking out what’s happening in one of your company’s non-work-related messaging channels might be all you need to get a second wind on productivity in the workday.   12. Take care of your health This tip complements the one above. Give yourself a break outside of work, too. It is important to eat healthily, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Being out of balance in any of those three areas can throw off your ability to concentrate and perform at your best level. Also, be sure to take advantage of any wellness-related programs, perks and benefits your employer offers.   13. Clean up your workspace regularly If you often lose time because you’re scrambling to find files or locate the many important reminders you write down on sticky notes, take time during or after work to do a clean sweep of your desk. Get into the habit of investing a few minutes each day — and at the end of each workweek — to organize and tidy up. (Try doing this with your calendar and inbox, too.)   14. Recondition your reflexes Chances are that you read your emails or other digital messages the instant you get a notification. Fight the impulse to immediately react when you hear the pinging sound of an incoming message or catch a glimpse of a pop-up on your computer screen. Pick specific times to check your inbox and messaging apps throughout the day. A great tip is to utilize your email calendar to block off time to do dedicated tasks. That way they are not forgotten and you’ll be more productive with the task.   15. Don’t procrastinate You may not be able to control everything that can derail your productivity during the workday, but this is one you can definitely own. Procrastination is one of those traps many of us fall into as we lose focus on the job. Then, we wonder, “What happened to the time?” or “How did I miss that deadline?” Procrastination is not the same as laziness; instead, it is an active process of choosing to do one thing over another. There are many ways to eliminate distractions and counter procrastination, whether you’re working on a small task or a large project. Consider these strategies: Identify what you’re most likely to put off. Use deadlines or set time frames to motivate yourself to work on something or get it done. Ask for help when you need it to get over the hurdle. Also, when you reach a milestone or finish a project, reward yourself for a job well done. Treat yourself to a delicious meal, go for a walk or just take time to have some fun with friends or family.   Apply all or some of these 15 tips for how to boost productivity regularly while on the job, and you’ll find it easier to concentrate — no matter where you’re working from! The Robert Half talent solutions team is here to help job candidates develop their careers and reach their goals. Explore more career development insights today.