5 Simple Low-Tech Hacks for Boosting Your Productivity

Follow these techniques for maximizing your efficiency at work and you'll find more things get crossed off the to-do list.

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By Firas Kittaneh • Oct 15, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Maximizing efficiency is important for anyone working at a startup. Yet, it's impossible to work at full capacity all the time.

Nonetheless, people's ability to concentrate is key to their getting the most out of the day, whether participating in a meeting, responding to emails or working at a desk. Here are five hacks to try immediately to enhance productivity:

Related: 5 Things You Should be Doing to Have an Insanely Productive Week

1. Set a bedtime.

Before an entrepreneur even steps foot in the office, her productivity has already been affected by her previous night's sleep. If she didn't get enough rest, she'll be tired and irritable. It's easy to become so embroiled with the demands of a startup and skimp on sleep. But in so doing, a person also deprives herself of productivity.

To boost productivity by gaining better sleep, the Harvard Business Review's site recommended, "Set yourself a bedtime and stick to it." By committing to going to bed at a consistent time each night, people establish a routine for their bodies so they will unwind properly at the end of each day. This makes it easier to relax and get the full seven to eight hours of sleep needed.

That also means turning off electronics at a reasonable time. Don't feel bad about waiting till morning to respond to work emails. Email-software provider GetResponse reviewed almost 21 million emails sent from U.S. accounts for the first quarter of 2012 and found that emails sent after 5 p.m. were less likely to be seen or opened for several hours.

Related: How to Become More of a Morning Person (Infographic)

2. Drink coffee at 10:30 a.m.

Many people start the day with a cup of tea or coffee to help them feel energized. Nearly 54 percent of adult Americans drink coffee every day and moderate use may help reduce the risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

To get the maximum benefits from any caffeinated drink, drink it later in the morning. According to a study by Steven Miller, a neuroscientist at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., caffeine interacts with cortisol, a hormone the body produces that's been correlated with alertness.

Cortisol production peaks between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and drinking coffee during that time will have less of an impact because body is already producing a similar chemical and more coffee may be needed to feel an effect. "One of the key principles of pharmacology is use a drug when it is needed," Miller told the Telegraph. "Otherwise, we can develop tolerance to a drug administered at the same dose."

Instead, drink coffee between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to receive the best energy boost to help with focusing on the tasks ahead.

Related: 5 Reasons to Get Off Your Butt at Work

3. Use good posture.

For anyone who sits for a good portion of the day, proper posture is important, according to a Wall Street Journal piece. Sitting correctly eases the strain on the back and lets a person work for longer periods of time more comfortably. It can also reduce the risk for lower back pain, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

Yet, many people do it wrong, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. To assume the best position, the feet should be comfortably resting on the floor or a small step. Sit all the way back in the chair and gently rest the elbows on the chair's arms. Also, be sure to sit a comfortable distance from the desk so as not to lean forward too much.

For a real boost in productivity, try rocking back and forth in the chair occasionally. This may increase blood flow and concentration.

4. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to beat eye strain.

Any desk job might prompt someone to stare at the computer screen for hours at a time. Somone's responsibilities result in absurdly long stretches of time spent with his or her eyes locked on the monitor. This makes people susceptible to dry eyes, eyestrain and headaches. A simple way to fix this is to be sure to look 20 feet away from the computer every 20 minutes for 20 seconds.

Doing so gives the eyes a chance to readjust to natural lighting and focus on something farther away. Try combining this with occasional breaks, which a New York Times article suggests will boost productivity and keep creative juices flowing.

5. Close tabs on the browser.

Anyone who runs a business may find the to-do list is always overflowing. It is tempting to jump from one task to another after remembering another item on the list.

Unfortunately, this sort of behavior can lead to a handful of idle tabs on the web browser that correspond to tasks that won't get done during the day. In short, the person keeps on assuming more and more responsibilities without ever completing anything.

No matter how effective the multitasker is, probably a person is more productive when tackling one task at a time, according to studies. Try the Atlantic.com's method of single-tasking. Rather than keeping all of the web browser tabs open as a reminder for doing tasks later, pick one and finish it now.

Focusing on completing a single item on the checklist ensures headway with the to-do list.

Related: Finding Time in Your 25-Hour Workday to Support Your Team

Firas Kittaneh

Serial Entrepreneur • CEO at Amerisleep • CEO at OCLU

Firas Kittaneh is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of amerisleep. Most recently, he launched OCLU to improve how we record our most memorable moments.

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