As work becomes more flexible, the lines between work and life are increasingly blurred. With the fresh energy that often comes with the arrival of a new year, it is a great time to explore new ways to experience the upsides that come with new work patterns. From timeboxing to taking breaks between meetings, we picked the most popular productivity tips used across our Teams marketing team. Here are our top four work habits to try this year:
- Habit stacking. Sometimes the hardest part of starting something new is finding a simple way to make it a lasting habit. While it isn’t a new idea, habit stacking pairs a new small activity or habit with an existing one. For example, using James Clear’s framework for habit stacking to start prioritizing your tasks before your workday begins, you could say, “After I make my morning coffee (current habit), I will create my to-do list for the day (new habit).“ With this approach, you can use the power of your existing routines to help make a new habit stick. Adding an invite to your calendar or creating a task list in Teams are great ways to trigger a reminder for this new habit.
- Timeboxing. One solution for taking control over the time in your day is “timeboxing.” The first step in timeboxing is to choose the most important areas of your life on which you want to focus. Those are your priorities or “boxes.” From community activities to family time to exercise and even work, it’s recommended to choose no more than five; otherwise, it becomes hard to juggle everything. From there, you set precise start and end times for each priority and focus on what you can during those time boxes each day. This solution has proven to be one of the most useful productivity tips in one analysis, and it’s used by Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President of Modern Work at Microsoft. Learn more about timeboxing in this Worklab article.
- Book focus time. We’ve all experienced days of back-to-back meetings and constant interruptions when it is hard to find a moment to focus on getting work done. Some people even report spending 80 percent of their days collaborating, and research has shown it can take over 20 minutes to refocus after checking one email. These constant distractions can increase stress and lower productivity. Rather than trying to cram work into the small pockets of time you have between meetings, block your calendar for a few hours every day for focus time to get work done without distractions. You can even find and schedule focus time automatically in Microsoft Teams with Microsoft Viva Insights, which helps to minimize notifications from Teams chats and calls during these blocks.
- Take breaks. With 55 percent more meetings on calendars each week than before the pandemic, it’s no surprise that back-to-back meetings increase stress as well as decrease your ability to focus. The solution, according to research? Take short breaks. Just five minutes can allow our brains to “reset” and reduce meeting fatigue. This helps boost our attention and engagement for the next task at hand. So, while it may seem counterproductive, taking breaks is essential for productivity. Learn a few techniques for better breaks, even when you just have five minutes.
To round out these top productivity habits, we talked with our team members to discover their best practices for making flexible work, really work. From using apps in Teams to keeping everyone in the loop to recording meetings and sharing where (and when) you are working from, see how our team navigates working from home, working remotely, working in the office, and working hybrid.
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