This article originally appeared at Forbes.com.
Hit a slump? Join the club.
The majority of American employees suffer from low productivity, lack of opportunity to pursue creative solutions or a poor attitude. But it hasn’t always been this bad.
Today, we have lower stats for workplace productivity than we have had in the last 35 years, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor and posted by the Mises Institute. And certain days of the week are especially rotten: Employees produce 10 percent less work on Monday and 24 percent less on Friday than they do on the most productive day of the week: Wednesday. So in case you feel you’re alone, remember: We’re all in the same boat.
But what can you do to regain your momentum and get back on your feet? Lost productivity and dampened creativity cost teams and businesses countless hours and dollars in their quest for innovation and continuous improvement. Studies show you can reverse the trends by integrating these simple hacks into your routine.
1. Strategic caffeine boost
For some, starting every day off with a cup o’ joe has been a habit since college. But research suggests that although coffee delivers plenty of health and mood-boosting benefits, early morning is not actually the best time to consume it. Instead, pour yourself a cup between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon, or 2-5 p.m. That’s when the coffee will actually give you a jolt of energy to propel your creative pursuits.
2. Achieve a small goal
Can you make a basket into the garbage can with a crumpled-up piece of paper? How about stretch to touch your toes? Think of a small, achievable goal. Then, accomplish it — right now. Catch a Pokémon on your app during lunch hour, or aim to drink enough water in a day. (You know you should.) As Jennifer S. Cheavens, Ph.D., shares, “Setting goals boosts mood by increasing the likelihood of success, which results in better feelings about yourself and life in general.” So set a simple goal to meet and even exceed today — and watch your confidence skyrocket.
3. Phone a friend
There’s a reason why brainstorming, team discussions and open workspaces are often engrained into creative work environments. It’s because discussing ideas with friends and colleagues hones and elevates the work you do. And if you take the time to phone a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, you’re reaching out to your outer circle — which is a step 72 percent of innovative, groundbreaking work benefits from. Speak to someone whose opinions and knowledge broaden and disrupt your thinking to grow your creativity.
4. Think differently
Research shows that one of the best ways to improve your mood is to get out of the present and shift your thinking. You can spend a few minutes meditating, count your blessings, envision your best self or think about the big-picture goals you’re working toward. Each of these methods delivers benefits for your mood — and when you’re in a calm head space, you can shut out distractions and let your creativity flow.
5. Be randomly kind
When you’re generous, you feel happier. Thanking others makes you more self-aware. And researchers have known for years that kindness improves your mood and makes you a better collaborator. So next time you need a boost, deliver a random act of kindness. Thank the mailman with a surprise box of cookies. Sweep your neighbor’s sidewalk. Pay for the order behind you in a drive-through. Or pop over to a co-worker who’s made a difference, and deliver a sincere thank you and smile. You’ll make someone else’s day and improve your own mood, too.
Admittedly, workplace mood and creativity stats are bleak. Especially in the summer — which, as conventional wisdom would have it, is the least productive and engaged time of year for most workplaces. But empower your own creativity and boost your mood with these simple fixes. They won’t take long, but their influence can change the way you work for the long haul.
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom work with the O.C. Tanner Institute. Learn more about The New York Times best-seller "Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love" (McGraw-Hill) at www.greatwork.com.