Being more productive at work is about more than checking off boxes on a to-do list. Psychologist Dr. Heidi Hanna is the author of The Sharp Solution. And she says productivity is about staying as focused and energized as possible. So, here are a few tips that’ll make us more efficient: 

  • First: Give yourself an early deadline. Dr. Hanna says we tend to use every second we’ve got. In other words, if we have 2 hours for a project, it takes 2 hours. And if we have 5 hours, we’ll take 5 hours to complete it. So setting an early deadline forces us to be efficient. In fact, the experts say you should plan to leave work early – and make plans afterward. That way you’ll be forced to be productive. 

  • Another productivity-booster: Work somewhere a bit noisy – like the company cafeteria. According to the Journal of Consumer Research, moderate noise, like the mid-level buzz in a coffee shop, increases productivity and creativity. It's the 'Goldilocks Principle.’ When your environment is really quiet, any noise becomes jarring. If the noise around you is too loud, it’s too distracting. But when the level of noise is like a hum, it’s 'just right.’ It’s the same principle as a white noise machine that helps you fall asleep. It blocks out distracting noise with a constant hum. 

  • Another key to productivity – avoid the news and workplace gossip. Just like any other muscle, brains can get tired. And thinking and worrying about the news – or workplace drama – can wear you out. So save your cognitive strength for work.

  • And stop multitasking. Studies show that it can take 20 minutes to recover each time we shift focus. Also, multitasking boosts production of stress hormones like cortisol - which clouds our thinking.