HEALTHY LIVING

3 Productivity Hacks You Should Be Using At Work (And 2 You Shouldn't)

07/07/2014 08:24 am ET | Updated Jul 07, 2014
Andrew Rich via Getty Images

Ahhh, the sweet benefits of a long weekend. You get to relax, you get to socialize, you get to go outdoors ... and then, you get to come back on Monday to face your overflowing inbox.

Just about the last thing any of us feels like facing is a monstrous to-do list come Monday morning. Getting back into the swing of things can be just as challenging as all the work we have to complete. But if you follow these three productivity hacks -- and avoid these two other time-suckers -- you'll be back on track in no time (without losing your sanity).

You should...

Get in touch with your classical side.
listening to music

The soothing sounds of Mozart don't just block out the noisy office chatter -- they may have a positive influence on your focus and creativity. If you need to sit down and power through your tasks, try plugging in your headphones. Not sure where to start? This playlist should help.

Find your center.
relax at work
How many times have you tried to get something accomplished when you're totally stressed out? Chances are your work isn't as on-point as it is when you're relaxed -- and there's a good reason. According to Tony Schwartz, CEO of The Energy Project, your work performance depends on your ability to get some energy -- and the only way to do that is to approach your work feeling refreshed and renewed. "The difference is that during the day we move from a state of alertness progressively into physiological fatigue approximately every 90 minutes," he wrote in the New York Times. "Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves -- the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol ... By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably."

Look at cute puppies.
puppies

Although it may sound counterintuitive, those cute animals you just can't help but look at aren't taking away from your work -- they're actually helping you be more productive. According to one Japanese study, looking at those adorable kitten and puppy videos can increase your mood and boost your overall performance. (Just don't interrupt your tasks too often.) Long live videos of dogs doing yoga!

You shouldn't...

Work straight through the day.
working

You may think that scarfing down your lunch at your desk in between emails is the only way to catch up after the long weekend, but you're actually killing your productivity. Taking breaks throughout the course of the day, even if you feel like you're too busy to do so, has been shown to help you get more done overall. Walk away from that computer for a little while -- your to-do list will thank you for it.

Manage two projects at once.
multitasking

It's no secret that multitasking plagues our productivity -- so why do we insist on doing it? If you're tempted to switch between tasks to get more done, try one of these tricks to avoid getting yourself in a time trap. You'll have a lot more accomplished by the end of the day.

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.

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