Paul Bradbury—Getty Images/Caiaimage
October 8, 2014 7:00 AM EDT

We’ve all been there. That time in the afternoon when you just can’t seem to focus, not because of a lack of stuff to do, but because your mind keeps wandering to things you could do to procrastinate. Maybe you take some time to check Facebook and Instagram on your phone. Or maybe you’ve been watching a few World Cup games behind your privacy screen (yea, that’s happened). And you might even do some Internet browsing to catch up on what’s been happening around the world.

It’s no secret that these things probably won’t help you with your productivity. But what if we told you that there were some sites that would help energize you, or that taking a social media break was good for keeping you motivated during the day? Here are four ways to help boost your productivity at work.

1. Do some busywork

Most of us complain about the mindless work that we have to do, but it turns out that deep down, we actually like it! A study done at the University of California, Irvine shows that completing busywork actually makes us happy. It gives us a feeling of accomplishment, like we have had some success during the day. And since between 3-4 employees feel distracted at work, we need all the help we can get.

So the next time you feel like you just can’t focus, consider going through those emails you’ve been putting off, get some of that filing done, or complete any task that doesn’t take much mental energy. You’ll be back to challenging yourself in no time.

(MORE: 8 Surprising Productivity Hacks That Will Blow Your Mind)

2. Get a drink at your business lunch

Studies have shown that a drink or two can loosen up the brain and help your creative juices flow. If you’re concentrating too hard, it can sometimes keep your brain from having that “Aha!” moment. But when you’re relaxed (aka after having a drink), your able to be more imaginative and come up with a ton of great ideas. So consider scheduling a brainstorming session after lunch–and hopefully the hops and tannins will give you the million dollar idea.

3. Check your Facebook

According to a study conducted by Ipsos and Microsoft, 46% of people surveyed said that they felt social media increased their productivity at work. The reasoning? Workers say that it increases collaboration, helps them communicate with coworkers and gives them an outlet to promote work-related initiatives. And for companies that don’t support the use of social media, 37% of employees feel that using social media would increase their efficiency.

But there is a balance between only using social media for personal reasons, and for helping conduct business. Now if you spend 2 hours a day stalking your friends from high school, that probably wont’ help much. But if you spend some time checking industry-related tweets, or even browse a competitors Facebook page, your productivity will skyrocket.

4. Use the Internet wisely

There are some websites out there used purely for entertainment, like Buzzfeed, Reddit and Thought Catalog. But there are also some websites out there that will help us get our lives in order, and maybe spend a little bit less time finding out which inanimate object best describes us or what some random dude in California found in his Wendy’s salad. If you have a problem with checking these sites, consider using Cold Turkey. It’s a website that temporarily blocks you from going to other sites that are distractions.

Is email the thing that causes you the most stress? Then consider getting an organizational tool like Unroll Me. It helps you manage all the things you’ve subscribed to, like newsletters and updates, and then digests them for you in one simple email. For people that put off checking your email because it gives you anxiety, this is the perfect solution for you.

(MORE: How to Turn Your Jealousy of a Co-Worker Into Productivity)


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