When it comes to getting things done, the biggest obstacle most of us face is ourselves. We let distractions hijack our attention and divvy up our days into unproductive tasks that keep us from focusing on the important stuff.

Given how much time we spend with our own brains, it’s crazy that we don’t take more control over them. The good news is that there are some simple changes you can make that will allow you to achieve peak productivity. With these tips, you’ll be able to focus on what matters most and squeeze every last drop of potential out of your day.

  1. Set Concrete Goals

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So make sure your goals are clearly defined and measurable. In our case, we set measurable revenue goals as well as goals for key performance indicators such as solid time management and stress management.

  1. Work Smarter, Not Harder

You’ve heard it said before, but it bears repeating. Working smarter, not harder should be your main objective. As long as you are working, you are being productive. Don’t just sit there. Focus on improving your effectiveness. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How often do you check your email?
  • How do you prioritize your tasks?
  • Do you make enough time to take breaks?
  • What changes can you make to make you even more effective?
  • How would you grade yourself on each one of these questions? Where can you improve? Where do you need to hold tight and keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working? Where do you need to improve? Where can you find additional resources to help you achieve peak productivity? Where else can you find the time to be even more productive? The answers might surprise you. They might even surprise your boss or coworker.
  1. Turn off the chime

Most of my work is digital, so I don’t have a lot of physical stuff that requires a lot of attention. However, my phone does have a few things that I need to remember to attend to, and I’ll often get a little alert sound on my phone. Odds are that you’re in the same boat.

Most of us have been conditioned to check our phone every time we get a new notification or alert, but this can have detrimental effects on your productivity. In customer support departments where people are working in shifts, they often find ways to signal each other when they need something done immediately. In one department at a major software company, they used to use pagers, and we’d get a little vibration if someone needed us. When the pagers were replaced with smartphones – and internal systems that ran through emails and SMS – we started getting notifications instead. And this was great for internal communication and getting work done quickly and effectively.

4.Exercise: The best way to get your energy and focus back is to get moving and sweat out whatever is sapping your energy. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll be more productive. If you’re looking for an exercise routine that’s easy on the joints and can easily fit into your schedule, try walking or running outdoors, or take a yoga class.

5.Play online games

According to a survey of 2,000 U.S. residents conducted by Harris, in a typical week in which they don’t work overtime, 25 percent play a video game in the evening, while 51 percent spend an hour or more playing a video game on their smartphone or tablet.

In fact, instead of feeling guilty about playing games when you should be working, it’s important to embrace games as a key to productivity. In fact, playing games can help you boost your productivity at work in several ways. In fact, the study showed that playing games could cut the amount of time spent on work by an average of one hour per week.

If you find yourself constantly procrastinating or struggling with a task, ask yourself if a little distraction could help you get your brain back onto track. For me, personally, I have found the following games to be the most helpful in increasing productivity.

  • Mahjong

I tend to play solitaire mahjong when I’m in the middle of writing something and find my thoughts are becoming stagnant. I’m not sure if it’s because it helps me focus on the task at hand or because I’m bad at it and tend to get frustrated when I can’t beat my high score…

  • Pyramid

I’ve recently started playing this game when I need a small mental break in between writing tasks. I’m not sure why exactly it has the effect it has on me, but Pyramid always seems to make me feel refreshed and ready for what’s next.

6.Use Timers

The timer is the most basic and the most useful productivity tool in the marketplace.

Business coach Paul J. Meyer, author of several books including “Maximum Achievement” and “Success Intelligence,” suggests setting a timer for 15 minutes and working on one task to achieve maximum productivity.

7.Lead With The Positive – According to psychologist Shawn Achor, we learn best from positive role models — not negative ones. He recommends taking the time to identify someone (maybe your boss) who you’d like to emulate and then studying what they do. Soon enough, you’ll be adopting the habits and behaviors of your role model without even thinking about it.

8.Change your location

Change your location if you’re feeling too charged up: take a walk. Studies show that certain surroundings can make us feel more creative and productive, and others can make us feel more tense and agitated. If you’re feeling over-stimulated, move to a quiet space where you can focus on your work. If you’re feeling burned out, go to a cafe with people around. The key is to make sure there’s a healthy mix of both.

As for me, I like to keep my laptop by the window so I can look at the changing face of the city outside. For me, it’s inspiring and it keeps me from getting distracted.

9.Carry a pen and paper wherever you go. This may seem like an antiquated practice, but it can be a powerful tool for inspiration and organization. When you come up with an idea or thought that crosses your mind, pull out a pen and paper and write it down. You can then decide what to do with the information at a later time.

The power of the pen and paper is that it directs your thoughts through a linear process. Thoughts can be wildly all over the place and writing them down makes them tangible and organized. You can prioritize the thoughts based on need and urgency, and organize them according to tasks and projects. Some thoughts will lead to action, others will be ideas for contemplation later. And the best part of pen and paper is you don’t need to carry a laptop or device with you everywhere you go to use it.

10.Recognize your energy levels – One of the top questions I’m asked is “What time do you wake up?”. This question surprises me a little because a) I just assume people already know this and b) it’s not really important. But think about it, if you want to know what time I wake up, the first thing I’d tell you is “It depends”. I don’t wake up at the same time every day. It’s dependent on my energy levels. Sometimes I wake up as early as 4:00am and other times as late as 8:00am because I know that if I don’t, I’ll pay for it later in the day. Have you ever woken up after a long day thinking “Ugh, I wish I could hit the reset button and start over”? That’s because you probably worked on very little sleep.