HR & Personal Development

10 behavioral changes that make you more efficient

Everybody has days that don’t turn out the way we thought. We get distracted, we’re not getting enough done, we focus on tasks that aren’t important and so on. How can you reclaim control and become more productive and motivated?


One way is to follow these 10 simple behavioral changes, which we have collected from entrepreneur expert Neal Jenson and The New York Times’ business theme about efficient habits on the job:


1. Start the day positively

Eat a healthy breakfast. You’ve probably heard that a million times before but there’s definitely some truth to it. A healthy morning meal makes you productive and full of energy from the beginning of the day. Vary your food and avoid eating the same lunch every day. When you look after yourself, your body and your brain give you lots of energy and focus during the day.


Start the day with a positive mindset. You cannot change the weather or the traffic. You can only change your mood.   


2. Be a good colleague

Happy employees are good employees. Be friends with your coworkers. You already spend most of your day with them. It makes work life so much more valuable and increases motivation.


Therefore, take the time to small talk at the office. It’s not a waste of time, it’s an investment in your well-being. See the positive and valuable in your colleagues and they will respect you more.


Share your good experiences. Tell the story. Not only will it strengthen your social ties it will also force you to notice positive moments. Smile and always be accommodating. It’s contagious and will automatically make your mood better.


3. Stop multitasking

Do one thing at a time. To multitask three tasks at once just means that none of them will get solved efficiently. Our brain simply have a natural limit to the amount of thoughts we can focus on at a time. Avoid mistakes and loss of concentration by doing one thing at a time. It will also stimulate your creativity.


4. Remove temptations

Whether they come from social media, e-mails, working on more than one screen or device, noise from your surroundings or something else. You may want to take a walk for 5 to 10 minutes or work concentrated in intervals of 5 to 15 minutes at a time with a couple of minutes of pause in between.


Avoid procrastination by making yourself accountable to others. It could be your boss or a coworker. Perhaps, accompany the commitment with consequences or rewards if this motivates you.


5. Make a list

To-do-lists also help fight procrastination. For instance, make a list before you go home from work where you write five goals you would like to achieve the next day. Also, make another list where you write three personal goals you would like to achieve.


Maybe you need to buy your uncle a birthday present or book a train ticket for the weekend. Remember only to set realistic goals and avoid letting the list cover the entire week. It might leave you more stressed.


Make every goal tangible, clear and simple: Call the boss about project X, send an e-mail to Y regarding a new customer, talk to sales about Z etc. If the list is too imprecise it’ll stress you more than it’ll help you. Keep the list short and precise and don’t spend more than five minutes doing it.


6. Organize your desk

Organize your work desk. There’s no right way of doing it but there’s a lot of small changes that can help you reach better concentration and motivation. In fact, your desk can be decisive for whether you have more or less energy on the job.


Keep an eye on how the papers pile up. Have the same papers been untouched for a month? Then it’s probably more overwhelming than helpful to have them on the desk.


Keep the desk as clean as possible. For instance, have an inbox for new tasks and an outbox for the ones you are finished with. You may want to finish each work day by getting the desk ready for the next day. Arriving at an organized desk in the morning is calming.


7. Control your technology

Technology can take up just as much time as it saves you. If there’s something you can’t make work or understand then seek help. Otherwise, you waste a lot of time. It’s definitely an advantage if the company has clear guidelines on how to use technology and digital tools.


Your e-mail is a typical time waster. Often, the inbox creates procrastination that takes away your concentration from more important tasks.


Turn off your e-mail notifications if you’re working on an important task that requires your full attention. For instance, determine specific periods of time where you check and answer e-mails. During this time only work on your e-mails. Organize your inbox into two categories; the ones that require quick response and the ones that can wait.


You can install an app that blocks e-mail notifications, among other things, to reduce your level of stress during the day and to increase your concentration.


Some e-mails activate an automatic reluctance in our brains, often because they require that we answer 'no' or make a complicated decision. Therefore, we tend to avoid them. It's a good idea to answer those e-mails with a phone call or a physical meeting. This allows you to better explain yourself without spending a lot of time articulating the perfect e-mail.


8. Move about more and take breaks

An assignment is often easier if you take a break from it. Standing or walking transports oxygen to your brain and re-energizes you and your concentration. For instance, routinely sit down and work for 20 minutes, then stand up and work for 10 minutes and then move around for a couple of minutes.


This cycle keeps your energy level up. You can use an alarm to remind you of the small necessary breaks between work intervals.


Only a very small part of your great ideas occur at your desk. Instead, they come to you when you do something entirely different. Running, driving your car, taking a shower, eating lunch etc.


Take breaks even though you’re working on a big and important project. Without creativity and energy the result won’t be optimal. Taking breaks make you efficient! Relaxation, and even taking a short nap, gives the brain the opportunity to see things from different angles and new connections.


9. Keep an eye on your posture and breathing

Be relaxed and calm. Try to notice these things when you sit and work at your desk. It will reduce your level of stress and increase the brain’s ability to be efficient.


10. The alternative solutions

Business Backer has used scientific research to conduct a list of tiny changes you may not have thought of, which can improve your productivity. For instance, you can:

  • Place a plant on your desk. This may sound mundane but the green color stimulates your brain and your productivity.
  • You can also use scents, such as peppermint oil, to stimulate your brain’s ability to work efficiently. It turns out that scents – and especially peppermint – enhance your cognitive performance.
  • Your concentration improves when you chew gum.
  • Use headphones to shut out noise, for instance. Persistent noise can have serious consequences on your health and your concentration.


It may take a long time to create new work habits but small changes can lead to big results. Use trial and error, and focus on the actions that work best for you. The most important thing is that you commit to the effort and see the goal ahead of you.


And remember that you’re human, just like everybody else; once in a while you’ll forget your actions or you won’t have time to think about them, and that’s okay.