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Tips for boosting productivity

By Jack Campbell | |7 minute read

For some, it may be difficult to stay focused at work. Distractions are everywhere, especially when working from home.

With this in mind, productivity specialist and author of the It’s About Time book series, Donna McGeorge, discussed her productivity hacks.

Give yourself some time


Freeing up time to unwind and recharge is essential, said Ms McGeorge. When work becomes overwhelming, it’s important to reduce the possibility of burnout.

“Creating more significant blocks of free time in our calendars can be incredibly beneficial to our productivity and wellbeing. When we have uninterrupted time to ourselves, we can engage in activities that we want to work on or do things that help us recharge,” said Ms McGeorge.

“This can include anything from pursuing a hobby, taking a walk in nature, or simply enjoying some quiet time. By scheduling these moments of choice, we can avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work/life balance.”

By providing yourself with time to bounce back, you’re ensuring that the work you’re doing is at its best and you’re reducing the possibility of burnout.

Work with the clock in your body, not the one on the wall

Flexibility has become a key consideration for employees as the pandemic shifted the traditional workday. Take advantage of this by working to your individual capability.

Ms McGeorge commented: “It’s important to recognise that peak mental alertness and physical coordination happen at different times of the day for different people. For example, some people may find that they are most productive and focused in the morning, while others may hit their stride in the afternoon.”

“By understanding when we are at our best, we can structure our day to maximise productivity. When we work with our body’s natural rhythms, we can also avoid the stress and burnout that comes with trying to force ourselves to work during times when we’re not at our best.”

Defrag your day

Similar to giving yourself time to relax, you also need to give yourself time to work. If your schedule is back-to-back meetings with scattered opportunities to work, you may not be giving your best efforts.

Ms McGeorge said that a good way to resolve this is to set time out for specific tasks: “This lack of focus and structure can make us feel overwhelmed and lead to a sense of unproductivity.”

She continued: “To create a more organised workday, we can group similar tasks together and allocate time in our schedules to complete them. For example, we might set aside an hour in the morning for responding to emails, followed by two hours of uninterrupted time for working on a critical project. By prioritising our tasks and scheduling our day effectively, we can avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that we’re making progress towards our goals.”

Work in bursts

In continuation of the last point, using these blocks of time to pump out work can be beneficial. You’ve essentially broken the workday into more manageable chunks, helping to remain productive and focused.

“The Pomodoro Technique is a perfect example of this approach, where we work for 25-minute periods followed by a five-minute break. During these focused work sessions, we can avoid distractions, stay on task, and make significant progress towards completing our goals,” explained Ms McGeorge.

“To make the most of these focused work sessions, it’s important to eliminate distractions and focus on one task at a time. We can close our email and social media notifications, turn off our phone, and avoid any other distractions that may pull our attention away from the task at hand. By working in short, focused bursts, we can improve our concentration, motivation, and momentum, ultimately leading to greater productivity and progress towards our goals.”

Make manageable meetings

Meetings can drag on and take up a considerable amount of time while not really achieving much. To avoid this, keep meetings to a maximum of 25 minutes. This ensures you’re getting the most important information without unimportant distractions.

Ms McGeorge said: “This approach encourages attendees to prepare beforehand, stay focused during the meeting, and avoid getting side-tracked by unrelated topics.”

“To make the most of these shorter meetings, it’s important to have a clear purpose and stick to it. We can use the first few minutes of the meeting to set expectations, establish the purpose of the meeting, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Then, we can dive into the topics at hand, making sure to stay focused and on-task throughout the meeting.” 

You may also find that the meetings you’re having can be solved via an email or phone call. They can be time-consuming, so if you’re able to get the information across via a message, it can free up time for more pressing matters.



Employees experience burnout when their physical or emotional reserves are depleted. Usually, persistent tension or dissatisfaction causes this to happen. The workplace atmosphere might occasionally be the reason. Workplace stress, a lack of resources and support, and aggressive deadlines can all cause burnout.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.