5 Productivity Tricks From the Pros

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Ever feel like there’s never enough time in the day to get the important things done? Well, you’re not alone. Studies show that we are working harder, sleeping less and have more stress in our lives than ever before. And since many of us are unwilling to cut back on our workload, we should probably be focused on working smarter instead of harder.

Here are five tips to getting more time out of your hours from pros who have mastered the art.

Related: Arianna Huffington's Recipe for Success: Unplug, Renew and Recharge.

1. Make your search work for you.

Fergal Glynn, the VP of Marketing at Docurated, a content-search service for companies, tells us that the tools you use, can make all the difference. 

“Regardless of how organized we think we are, when the pressures of the work day start pressing down on us and our minds get a little scattered, even the most organized people can forget simple things. Therefore, I believe people should make their tools support them in their efforts and remove the human element out of organization. Having an effective search tool will often trump any organization method you might have with regards to your documents and other work information. Your computer can search for a piece of information in a fraction of a millisecond, so let it do the work.”

They even provided a handy infographic that proves this point.

Related: Terrific Productivity Tips to Make Your Week a Triumph

Entrepreneur pro tip: Many people spend hours searching their computers for one document. But all desktops and laptops come equipped with search tools to help you. I prefer to keep all of my documents in the cloud and use their search features to quickly find what I need. Services that offer cloud storage with search features are Google Drive, DropBox, and Box.

2. Keep your work environment calming.

Magnus Yngen the CEO of Camfil, a provider of air filters and clean-air solutions, suggests that your work environment plays a major role in your productivity.

“My workspace is my safe-zone. I ensure that I have a calm atmosphere that allows me to get my work done without being subject to endless distractions. Whether you use music, scents, or lighting; ensure that you create the perfect place for you to work optimally.”

Entrepreneur pro tip: Scents are my go-to tool when it comes to calming my nerves. Personally I use eucalyptus and lavender. However, peppermint and apple have also shown to have calming effects. It has been shown that classical music helps calm the mind, but it is up to you what you choose.

3. Use the best tools.

Isaac Westwood, President of Outbox Systems, a company focused on cloud integration for businesses, tells us that the right tools make all the difference.

"When it comes to the software and tools we use in the office, we always find the best solution and then worry about the price after the fact. This has allowed us to be infinitely more productive when using tools such as Salesforce, Attask, and many others. They have features and time saving aspects that you just can’t find in many free alternatives.”

Entrepreneur pro tip: Most software solutions will allow you to demo or trial their product before you buy. So, try out the tools you are interested in, then purchase them only if they fulfill your needs. A few tools that I believe every office needs: a CRM (customer relationship manager), a sales-automation platform, a social-media management software and analytics tools.

Related: What's Worth Chasing: Happiness Now or Happiness Later?

4. Turn off distractions.

Courtney Anderson, the CEO of Spa Trouve, a medical spa, tells us how to force yourself to disconnect.

“It’s incredibly hard for me to focus on an important task if I have emails popping up, a Facebook tab open on my browser, and my chat service sounding off every time one of my employees pings me. So, when I need to get those tough projects done, I force myself to disconnect by using the app Freedom. It allows me to turn off all internet access for a predetermined amount of time. And the best part is that even if my resolve cracks, it keeps me honest by forcing me to reboot my system if I want to access the internet again; potentially causing me to lose my work.”

Entrepreneur pro tip: Find the tool that works best for you when it comes to shutting off the outside world. AntiSocial and SelfControl also offer great blocking software. And anyone with a smartphone can simply turn their phone on to “airplane mode” to shut off all calls, emails and texts.

5. Find your center.

Nico Pesci, an advisor at Cambridge Financial, a consulting and financial planning organization, reminds us to take a break.

“For me, meditation is one of the most effective things I do to stay productive. A simple 10 to 20 minute break in the middle of my day to center myself and calm my breathing gives me the clarity and calm to tackle the next half of my day. Even though it takes up a chunk of time, I see a much greater return in the added focus I gain for the rest of the workday.”

Entrepreneur pro tip: Michael Jacobs wrote a great article on meditation. I’d suggest giving it a read for more in-depth techniques on meditation. But don’t limit yourself to mediation. I know many entrepreneurs who find their center by cycling, running, playing basketball or reading. Whatever you need to do to shut your brain off from work and refocus it on what’s important.

Related: 7 Tips for Merging 'Mindfulness' Into the Workplace