How to be More Efficient at Work

The 9-to-5 job is the routine of millions of Americans, and about half of them say they get distracted after only 15 minutes of work. To help maintain focus and improve efficiency, check out these 10 tips.

Create a to do list. One of the first things to do when sitting down at your desk is making a list of what has to get done. Grab your stack of sticky notes and jot down the projects for the day, or use the sticky note feature on your computer. Having a visual guide can help keep your thoughts organized and prioritize what is most important. A planner or the calendar feature on your computer can keep track of long-term projects or goals.

Organize your emails. The inbox full of emails is usually the first sight of the workday and can feel overwhelming. While most email software automatically order messages in chronological order, you can create subfolders within your inbox. Organize your emails by project, category, department, however you want to. Flag the ones with information you will need for the day.

Take a walk. Walking even for just a couple of minutes improves your body’s circulation and clears your head. Walk for a few minutes in the morning to start off the day with a focused mind. Or use part of your lunch hour or afternoon break to take a stroll. Find a walking buddy, or see if you can hold a meeting while out. Walking meetings are becoming a common practice in the workplace.

Bring healthy snacks to combat mid-morning and mid-afternoon hunger. It’s not fun to be in that morning grind and feel your stomach rumbling or being so hungry that it’s all you can think about. Having a healthy snack on hand such as an apple or a granola bar keeps off the hunger while providing nutrients to keep you further energized.

Get up from your desk every hour. Being sedentary for long periods of time can cause a decrease in energy. Getting up from your chair at least once every hour keeps your body moving and working. If short on time, stretching also serves as a way to get the blood flowing and avoid stiffness.

Lock your electronics away. It’s very tempting to keep a device on your desk next to you to make sure you don’t miss anything. However, smartphones can prove to be a major distraction when trying to complete to task. Putting them away will keep them out of sight and out of mind. There’ll be plenty of time at lunch or on your break to catch up with the latest news or texts.

Listening to music. If your job allows you to wear headphones, then listen to music. Websites like Pandora and Spotify are free and allow you to create stations based on your favorite genres. Podcasts can work as well, as long as they don’t distract you from your work. If looking for somewhere to start, NPR’s This American Life provides a unique glimpse into the lives of everyday people.

Keep your workspace clear. A cluttered desk only creates more distraction and frustration for an already busy work day. Organize your papers into labeled file folders and put them into your storage space. Keep only the relevant, important documents out to help you focus on the projects at hand.

Caffeinate. Having that morning or afternoon coffee or tea can provide that needed jolt, but too much caffeine can have a negative effect, so be careful.

Meditate. Mindfulness is a way to relax your mind and focus. Apps like Headspace can provide a guide to meditating. YouTube is also a great place to find various videos on concentration and focus.


10 ways to increase your efficiency at work. (2015, March 30). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from

S. (2012, July 23). 13 Ways to Beat Distractions and Stay Focused at Work. Retrieved June 15, 2017, from

Steber, C. (2016, March 21). 7 Tips For Staying Focused At Work & Being More Productive. Retrieved June 15, 2017, from

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