work-life balance

5 Strategies to Improve Productivity and Work Performance


By Oscar Waterworth

Soon after starting a business, many entrepreneurs find out that even if a day was 48 hours long, they would still not have enough time to get everything done. Running and developing a business is difficult on its own and the lack of time isn't helping in any way. That's why many entrepreneurs rely on time management apps to help them out.

Although time may be of the essence, there's neither a magic formula that will help you become productive, nor the one that will help you manage time more efficiently. In the end, it's down to you alone to find what motivates you and what makes you productive. There are, however, various strategies that may help you improve productivity and work performance and here are a few of them.

Try Pulling an All-Nighter

Working all night in order to get things done has worked for many college students over the years. You could try to reconnect with caffeine sources and remember your college days, pull an all-nighter and get the much-needed inspiration and motivation. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that people tend to be more creative when they're tired.

Furthermore, when people are tired, they also tend to be more distracted, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, when we're distracted, our brain performs better when we need to think outside the box and solve quite difficult problems. Therefore, pulling the all-nighter may do wonders for you, but you may also experience an existential crisis mid-night, when caffeine kicks in and you realize you're not as young as you once were.


Get More sleep

It's the oldest trick in the book; get enough sleep, and you'll be able to accomplish so much more. However, sleep is the first thing to go when people have too much on their plates. After all, people believe that sleep is the easiest thing to sacrifice in order to get more time to complete tasks. However, sleep deprivation can do serious harm to your body, as well as your productivity, motivation and creativity.

Not only will you be groggy, stressed out, exhausted and experience mood swings, but you'll actually do much less work and make much more mistakes. Sleeping helps repair your neural pathways, while helping you maintain both long and short-term memory and the ability to learn new things. Therefore, if you want more productivity, don't wear yourself out by skipping sleep.

Let Music Boost Your Productivity

Music is one of the best motivators ever. Not only does it help you focus, but listening to music stimulates your brain to produce more neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which are responsible for feeling good. Listening to music will help you become more focused, productive and it will inspire your creativity.

This is especially handy when there's a lot of background noise either at your office or at home. In fact, background noise can increase stress levels and decrease your performance and productivity. Therefore, you can always use your in ear headphones to completely eliminate those noises and let music help you focus on what you're currently doing.


Allocate Less Time for Work

A well-known fact is that entrepreneurs tend to work long hours and even exceed 60 hours per week. However, there’s a good reason why a 40-hour week is optimal. The main reason is that it helps improve productivity, while preventing burnouts. Prolonged working hours may lead to severe health issues and substance abuse.

That's why there's that old saying: "Work smarter, not harder." If you allocate more time to finish a project, it doesn't mean that it will magically be finished more successfully, it will only take longer to complete. Instead of burning yourself out and becoming counterproductive, set less time for work and use the much-needed break to recharge your stamina and relax your mind.

Productive Procrastination

Usually, procrastination is a sign of a burnout and that you're physically, mentally and emotionally worn out and unable to find any motivation whatsoever. However, good types of procrastination are actually beneficial for you. But, telling an entrepreneur to procrastinate is the same as telling them to jump off a cliff, because they believe that spending time not working is wasting time in general. However, no one is telling you to procrastinate indefinitely.


Instead, set some time to completely disengage from work and commit to some other activities; doesn't matter what those activities are, as long as they are not work-related. This will help reduce stress levels and help improve your motivation and productivity. In addition, it will improve your overall well-being and help you grow your business successfully.

Managing time effectively to get more work done is more than a difficult task for every entrepreneur. However, the key is to find what works for you best and utilize those practices to improve productivity, while also taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. There's no secret recipe that will solve all your problems at once, but if you make an effort you'll find a way to organize everything.

Oscar Waterworth is a writer and a senior editor at Bizzmarkblog. He frequently blogs about the latest developments in the tech, marketing, and business industries. To stay updated with Oscar’s latest posts, you can follow him on Twitter.

Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace

By Stephanie Hammerwold

I recently attended the National Human Resources Association’s panel on “The Impact of Mental Health in the Workplace.” We spend a large amount of our time in the workplace. If employees are struggling with mental illness, that comes to work with them. It affects their work and well being, so it is important that employers recognize the need to provide resources to support employee mental health.

The Reality of Mental Illness

Steve Pitman is the president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. During the panel, he pointed out that one in five people will have a diagnosis of mental illness this year. Of those diagnosed, 50% are not getting treatment. Given these numbers, it is clear that this is an area that employers must address.

The signs of mental illness are not outwardly visible, and Pitman said that the number one reason people do not seek treatment is the stigma. There is this thought that a person can just get over it. But the reality is that treating mental illness requires help and support—just as people get for physical illness. If workplaces are open and supportive of mental health, it helps break down that stigma, and this is good for everyone. As Pitman explained, “An environment that supports mental health supports all employees.”

How to Support Employees

Your employee assistance program (EAP) and coverage for mental health in your insurance plan are excellent places to start, but supporting mental health does not stop there. Find ways to incorporate mental health into your existing wellness program. You can also provide training on topics like suicide prevention, recognizing the signs of depression and supporting children with mental illness. Panelist Sheryl Correa of St. Joseph Health explained that your approach to mental health education should also include training people on positive well-being in the workplace. At St. Joseph, she said that they open meetings with a reflection to help people focus and feel grounded.

Correa offered five easy steps that employees can easily incorporate into their daily routine:

  • Gratitude—figure out something you are grateful for
  • Journal one positive thing you have done in the last 24 hours
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Practice random acts of kindness

These changes can start small. For example, meditate for a minute and slowly increase that one minute each day until you get to your target length of time. HR professionals and managers can support employees by allowing them to slow down occasionally to take a few minutes to focus on these things or even encourage them to use break time to go for a relaxing walk away from their desk.

Panelist Noma Bruton offers more suggestions on her blog. Bruton is certified as a mental health first aid instructor and works with HR professionals to train them on recognizing and responding to the signs of mental illness in the workplace as well as ways to support mental health in the workplace. As she points out in her blog post, “In the past, HR contributed to issues of discrimination, sexual harassment, cracking the glass ceiling and providing employment to people with disabilities.  By bringing meaningful change to the workplace, HR is well placed to move the dial on mental health.”

Reshaping the Workplace

While it is important that we have resources to help employees focus on mental health, it is also necessary that we look at how our work environments affect mental health. Toxic work environments do nothing to support positive well-being. If you notice that morale is low and that employees are regularly struggling, take the time to look at your policies and practices. Are your managers creating an environment that encourages long days and impossible deadlines? Are they supervising by yelling and bullying?

Supporting mental health in the workplace also requires that we look to our own practices to make sure we are not causing unnecessary stress. Create an environment where employees can have a work-life balance and can have time off to spend with friends and families. Happier employees are more productive and are better ambassadors for your company and your brand.

Human Resources Trends for 2017

By Oscar Waterworth

The year 2017 will be particularly challenging for human resources teams as they will need to constantly adapt their strategies to emerging trends and ongoing changes in the working conditions and environment. Here is a look at some of the top human resources trends for 2017.

Company Culture and Employee Engagement as a Priority

As testimonials of employees and candidates are more visible with the rise of employer review websites, corporate practices are more transparent than ever. This is marking the end of unethical practices, and the beginning of taking care of issues such as respectful treatment of employees at all levels including benefits, job security, etc. Companies need to focus on corporate culture and values in order to retain employees and attract future candidates.

Further Rise of Blended Workforce

A major HR trend still relevant in 2017 is the continuing change in structure of the global workforce. While full-time employees still form the greatest part of the workforce, there has been a constant rise in numbers of non-traditional workers such as freelancers, interns, remote and part-time workers, etc. Since permanent employees are working side by side with temporary or non-traditional workers, the HR teams will face new challenges when it comes to organizing different types of workers while working together on the same project.

Changes in Performance Management and Reviews

While the annual performance reviews are increasingly abandoned in favor of continuous, more personal methods of delivering feedback to employees, the companies are yet to find a performance management strategy that best suits their working environment and their workforce. Most employees, especially the younger generations, appreciate regular and relevant feedback, so they can focus sooner on areas in which they can improve their performance. In 2017, companies will likely switch from performance measurement to performance counseling—as comments and discussion with employers and peers will replace the traditional rating systems.

Separating Performance Management and Compensation

As companies redefine or completely abandon performance rating, the question of what to do with performance-based bonuses still remains. Some companies have already eliminated monetary rewards based on performance, as it was concluded that they don’t significantly improve performance or employee morale while potentially causing rivalry in the workplace. It will be important to determine how to calculate pay and bonuses in a fair and competitive way, while respecting the newly established culture of continual feedback instead of keeping the classic performance ratings.

Turning Towards In-house Training

In order to keep their existing employees’ skills up to date, companies have often turned to outside sources for additional training and education. In 2017, HR teams will be looking for useful skills which employees already possess and the ways these skills can be put to use in a more cost effective in-house training.

Increasing Appreciation of Work Flexibility

Flexibility may be the benefit that is currently valued the most as work/life balance seems to be very important to employees, especially younger workers. In order to keep the talent working for them in the new results-driven environment, companies are increasingly flexible with working hours and location of their employees. In order to effectively keep track of a growing number of workers with different schedules, the use of a reliable time tracking software will be essential throughout 2017.

Using the Advantages of Big Data Analysis

To remain competitive, companies will invest more resources in big data analysis as the results of it have the potential to improve every aspect of the business.  Interpretation of the data will be helpful in areas of recruitment, improving employees’ performance and retention as well as reducing the number of bad hires.

Rising Interest in Wellness Programs

Companies are using wellness programs to reduce absenteeism, attract and retain talent, as well as save on healthcare costs. Creating a healthy and supportive work environment will help maintain employees in an optimal mental, emotional and physical state of well-being.

The successful implementation of good strategies in HR will lead to improved performance and greater satisfaction of the employees. This will largely depend on the ability of HR teams to tackle the challenges that will come with the latest trends while searching for adequate solutions for the new working situations.

Oscar Waterworth is a writer and a senior editor at Bizzmarkblog. He frequently blogs about the latest developments in the tech, marketing, and business industries. To stay updated with Oscar’s latest posts, you can follow him on Twitter.