by Kit Hickey
For me (and most of my co-workers), the last year was a roller coaster: the startup I co-founded, Ministry of Supply, took off and our customer base more than quintupled. As I became more and more busy, I tried to experiment to find out how I could become more productive and keep up with the workload. I tried it all, from scheduling 15-minute meetings to not taking any meetings; from sleeping less to sleeping more.
In the end, I found that my well-being and happiness at the workplace are the things that are most correlated with productivity for me. Here’s how I keep healthy, happy and as productive as possible at work:
- Work out regularly. My best ideas come to me when I’m running along the Charles River, not when I’m looking at a blank Word document. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace this: Instead of forcing myself to stay in the office all day, I force myself to get up from my desk and run. I work out regularly during the day, right when I find myself fading. I’ve made sure that everyone at the office knows that it’s a ritual that makes me more productive and creative. We’re an active group at Ministry of Supply, so it’s not a hard sell!
- Take meetings outside the office. Given that I’m not the only one at the office who likes activity during my workday, I’ve made it a point to schedule some meetings in conjunction with exercise classes. My Customer Experience team goes to yoga together weekly. This enables us to leave the office, be active, and have off-the-cuff conversations on topics that likely wouldn’t have come up if we were meeting in a conference room.
- Mix it up. During the day, you can typically find me working from our kitchen, from the couches, from my desk, or holed up by myself in a conference room. Most people aren’t productive working from the same place all day, every day. Find out where works best for you. It may depend on the time of day or the task you’re doing.
- Bring your dog to work. I’m happiest when my dog, Cody, is by my side. When I first started bringing him to work, I was worried it would be too much of a distraction, but I’ve found it’s the opposite. He gives me a great excuse to get up from my computer and take a walk around the block or play tug-of-war. Even if you don’t have a dog, taking regular breaks from work to get some movement and play within the day does wonders for both your productivity and your outlook.
- Evaluate work output, not desk time. Everyone has different work styles, and it’s easy to forget that your style may not work for everyone. At Ministry of Supply, we have people who are most productive working from a coffee shop or from their bed. By building a culture where people are evaluated on their work output — not on their time at their desk — we’ve been able to ensure that everyone works in a manner which is most productive for them.
- Set aside distraction-free blocks for creative work. I find that I do my best creative work when I set aside time specifically for that work and am free from email distractions. I typically set aside a meeting-free Tuesday, where I can fully concentrate on creative work. This enables me to fully immerse myself in the project and almost always results in a better output.
I’ve been extremely lucky. As a founder, I’ve been able to create an office space and a work culture at Ministry of Supply that is flexible, varied and dog-friendly. But no matter how constrained or liberal your office culture is, don’t be afraid to experiment and find changes to help make your next year the most productive yet.
Kit Hickey is the co-founder of Ministry of Supply, a brand which is inventing the future of men’s professional wear. The company has been featured in NYT, TechCrunch, Inc., Forbes and Elle Magazine. In addition, Kit is a lover of mountain sports and has half an MBA from MIT. Follow her @kit_hickey.
This article was originally published by StartupCollective and has been syndicated by KillerStartups with permission.