People Productivity Hints and Tips 

15th July 2020

Fiona Anderson, Hagit Amsterdam, Sarah Pass, Jill Munden, Claire Ritchie, Scott Rolph and Nicholas Wardle

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” (Alexander Graham Bell)

On July 15th we had our monthly #peopleproductivity event, where we heard from Dr Ann Terry about Improving Productivity With The Brain In Mind. Following on from Ann’s talk, we had breakout sessions where participants shared their insights about what they are already doing to support brain productivity and ways in which they can increase it, for both themselves and their organisations. Here is a summary of what they shared.

Top hints and tips for individuals


  • Focus on one activity at a time or allocate topics and create a structure for each day.
  • Look and plan forward in your calendar and plan slots into the diary, which includes time for self- development, task time, catch up time, unwind time, etc.
  • Be aware of personal energy levels throughout the day and use them more effectively in planning each day, see if you can work more flexibly, try and do the mundane tasks when energy is lower and group types of activities together to avoid exhaustion.
  • Be conscious of the connection of your work to your purpose and values and how this can boost your energy and increase productivity. Not sure about your personal values, then click here

At the start or end of each day:

  • Start or end each day by asking yourself: What went well today/yesterday? What would make today/tomorrow great?

While working:

  • Turn off all distractions, on both your computer and phone.Check out the Forest, an app helping you to stay present.
  • Celebrating your achievements: The brain is designed to forget and focus on the negative, so highlight and take the time to acknowledge successes, it will also aid in habit forming and will keep you motivated.
  • Limit how much time and how many times a day you check your email. Manage your inbox rather than have it managing you.
  • Try ‘walking zoom’ sessions, e.g walk around (where wifi permits) while on a call to keep active but engaged and avoid “Zoom fatigue” especially if not needing to look at slides.
  • When circumstances allow, try face-to-face walking meetings to keep active and engaged.

In between:

  • Make sure to have breaks throughout the day – change your posture – take a walk to re-energise.
  • Exercise! Either in the morning, at night or to break up your day.
  • You’re what you eat and your diet has a massive impact on your productivity. You can also leverage your snacking as a way to help your brain focus.
  • Work with your strengths to handle more challenging tasks: You can take the VIA strengths test, as each one of us has top strengths, and we can leverage this top strength towards our daily activities or tasks. Have a go with your least favourite task.

Helpful tools:

  • Work with lists! Either handwritten, on Trello, take pleasure in crossing off what you accomplished!
  • “Brain dump” to capture everything that is going on in your mind so you won’t worry about forgetting it, freeing up the system.
  • Forest – an advanced version of pomodoro, blocking out tabs and apps for a specific period of time, while a tree is growing – you have to focus for the tree to grow.
  • Daily meditation practice. Insight Timer is a free app with lots of free practices and a great place to start.
  • Have a buddy to keep you both accountable and look after one another.

Top hints and tips for organisations

  • Use coaching to draw out strengths, empower and engage your people.
  • Host ‘social sessions’ – completely unrelated to work, just to break the mood, lighten the morale and encourage connection on a social level.
  • Avoid multiple back to back meetings and calls. No more than 2 or 3 calls back to back at most, especially long ones. Find gaps between for everyone to ‘do the doing’.
  • Some companies are introducing a 50 minute meeting, allowing 10 minutes gap to reflect, prepare for the next one.
  • Encourage breaks, such as social lunch breaks, making sure people are breaking off work and use it for social engagement.
  • Introduce a buddy system to encourage accountability and connectivity.
  • Acknowledge this is a marathon, not a sprint and involve all employees in shaping programmes and initiatives around work, wellbeing and productivity.

At BT, there are weekly sessions scheduled and available for all to attend.  A mindfulness session runs every Wednesday morning providing a chance for people to practice meditation live on the call, clearing their minds and getting them ready for the day ahead, setting a powerful tone from the top.  For many this skill has now become a daily habit.

For more tools and tips on boosting productivity at work come join us in our next chat on the 21st of October , check our events page for more information.

Author Bio: Hagit Amsterdam, member of the Productivity TAG at Engage for Success
Photo Credit: www.forestapp.cc

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