Getting through a typical workday without falling into some sort of slump can be a continuous struggle. Whether we’re running our own business or working our way up the ladder in a large company, the energy and enthusiasm that we feel for our job first thing in the morning can slowly lag throughout the day, until we’re struggling to focus on that latest sales report.

We’ve all heard the classic productivity tips: get more sleep, exercise more, keep a plant on your desk. But though they’re nice in theory, most of the time they just don’t work – at least not well enough to solve the problem.

If classic productivity tips don’t work for you, mull over these more unconventional ideas to improve work concentration, and get you in a productive mindset.

Video game music helps you concentrate.

This one isn’t really so odd when you start to think about it. Video game music is designed to “keep the player engaged but still focused on what they’re playing,” according to Shaunacy Ferro at Mental Floss.

And this sort of repetitive background music can have that same effect in other areas of life – like work. Wordless sound has been shown to increase productivity and creativity in the workplace because it occupies your mind without requiring any concentration. And video game music will put you in the competitive mindset.

Of course, like all music preference, the effects that certain music has on you will vary based on your personal likes and dislikes. So it’s better not to play music in the whole office – let your employees find what works for them.

More social media might be better.

The accepted truth seems to be that social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is a devilish distraction for your employees. But that might not be true.

According to a study by data analytics firm Evolv, employees who are members of four or more social media services are more productive than those who use three or less. Employees who belonged to five or more social media sites had a higher sales rate and lower call time than their less-engaged coworkers.

Now, this doesn’t mean social media is a panacea for all your sales woes. More likely, higher involvement in many sites just leads to better multi-tasking skills. Or, at least in connection with sales, higher engagement in social media is an indication that person is more, well, “social.”  Which can help in sales, according to anyone who’s ever sold anything.

So social media is probably not the productivity killer that we’ve come to see it as. (But I remain a tad skeptical…)

Lists shouldn’t be written in straight lines.

When we write a list, most of us tend to go from top to bottom. Even if we’re not thinking in chronological order or order of importance, we stack our lists like we are. But maybe this traditional list-making isn’t the best way to get things done.

Consider varying how you write your to-do list.

Our brains don’t come up with thoughts in straight up-and-down lines, so expecting them to work productively off straight up-and-down lists is a bit of a stretch. Try starting at the middle of a page and working out, grouping ideas by tasklist items that should be done at the same time, or that have something to do with each other.

It’s like thinking outside the box – except you’re thinking outside the lines of your paper.

You need to get out of your chair.

Many great thinkers throughout history have one thing in common: they don’t like to sit at desks. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up, Agatha Christie never owned a desk, radical composer Igor Stravinsky stood on his head when he felt blocked.

Benjamin Franklin had a strange habit of taking “air baths” – working naked first thing in the morning – which might not be great for the office but bears the same principle. Good ideas are not going to come to you-you have to go to them.

This may just translate to getting up from your desk every once and awhile. Avoiding that late afternoon slump, when you start to lean on your arm and the ideas start coming slower and slower. But in order to keep those juices flowing, we need to get out of our chairs.

Questions to consider:

  • What are some strange productivity habits you’ve picked up over the years?
  • How do you get yourself into a productive work mindset? Do you have a way to get yourself in that mindset?
  • How many minutes do you lose to that afternoon slump?

 

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