How our team stays focused

And 6 steps to becoming your most productive self

“Once I became mindful of how easy it is for me to get distracted, I started to think seriously about productivity. How can I manage my time better?” (Click to tweet this)

Pet peeves are so annoying. Chewing with your mouth open. People listening to loud music on the train. Littering. And the absolute worst? Notifications: they feel like a million small zaps in my brain.

Once I became mindful of how easy it is for me to get distracted, I started to think seriously about productivity. How can I manage my time better? What’s preventing me from staying focused?

One of the perks of working at Typeform is being surrounded by amazing and helpful people, all eager to give me a hand with my conundrum. I spoke with one of our scrum masters and our blog’s editor-in-chief to get an inside look at how they manage themselves and their productivity. Then I compiled a brief list that would help me (and the rest of the team) stay focused and be our most productive selves.

6 steps to be productive

1. Control your space and surroundings

Designing the perfect workspace is very important. And feeling comfortable plays a big part. But your environment affects you directly as well. Pay attention to:

– Ergonomic furniture: Choose a chair that prevents you from slouching.

– Lighting: Exposure to natural light has been proven to enhance productivity.

– Sound: Cancel out all noise and get in the zone with noise cancelling headphones.

2. Create rituals

Whether it’s a cup of coffee before work or sharing breakfast with your team, creating everyday rituals is a major key to staying productive.

– Try out the two-minute rule: If something takes you less than two minutes to get done, get it out of the way.

– Set aside time for emails: Check your email in the morning and don’t go back again until the afternoon. This way, you get the most important messages out of the way. And if you’re feeling courageous, achieving inbox zero is a great task to mark “done” on your list each morning.

– Work remotely (if you can): Our editorial team takes their remote writing day very seriously. Every Wednesday (our company’s ‘no meeting day’), the team writes from a quiet place like home or a cafe.

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3. Remove all distractions

The other day I sat down to write this piece. I had everything ready to go when suddenly, a group message on Slack needed my attention. What happened? I only started writing a few hours later. Exactly what I needed. Not.

So, how can you avoid this from happening in the future?

– Create tunnel vision focus: Sign off of all chats (Slack, HipChat, Hangouts), or at least turn off notifications.

– Use noise cancelling headphones.

– Leave your phone inside your backpack/bag or on airplane mode.

4. Visualize your work

Having a lot to do can be overwhelming, even stressful. So it’s important to make sure you’re giving yourself enough time to prepare each task in advance. Creating a high-level overview of your work is really helpful when planning your day/week. How can you do this? Write everything down.

Our editor-in-chief Marc Cinanni writes all of his ideas down. Because forgetting an idea is his worst nightmare, and remembering it in the shower a few weeks later might be too late. Trust in the notepad, make checklists that move your tasks to “done,” and go home on Friday guilt-free with a better sense of achievement.

5. Divide your tasks

Agile methodologies have turned out to be extremely helpful for our Social Media & Outreach team. We work in one-week sprints, which breaks down our goals into smaller manageable tasks. We complete several projects by the end of the week running all sprints in this way.

Dino Zafirakos, our scrum master, swears by  this tip: he sets three specific goals for himself. If he doesn’t achieve them, he goes back and tries to understand why it didn’t work. Maybe a goal was too big. Or perhaps he didn’t allocate enough time to tackle things. If either is true, then he divides his tasks into smaller ones that he can manage. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

6. Give yourself headspace

Make sure you don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t work on something for more than two hours unless you’re in a flow state or “in the zone.” Take walks. Leave enough space to process and assess the work you’ve done. Burnout does more damage than you think.

Main takeaways

When it comes to personal habits on how people handle their productivity, you never know what works until you test it. Experiment, find out what works for you, and stick with it. If you’re not sure where to start, ask others for suggestions. You might be surprised at how knowledgeable your colleagues can be!

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About the author

Joanne Torres is an online & outreach marketer at Typeform. Compared to the industry average, Typeform has 4x higher completion rates due to their human-first design approach—keeping people’s attention from start to submit.

Follow Joanne on Twitter @possiblyjoanne and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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