Productivity is often thought of as one of the more elusive qualities in the workplace. Everyone wants more of it, but can’t quite find the magical cure for the copious amount of distractions that get in the way.

The truth of the matter is that there is no perfect method to increase productivity. Rather, it is something you work at everyday by making fundamental changes to how you conduct yourself in and outside of the office. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

# 1 – Take frequent breaks

This may seem counterproductive to accomplishing the goal, but in reality taking a number of short breaks throughout the day is one of the best things you can do. There are times when we feel like pounding through some paperwork and others when even the most menial tasks seem taxing. It’s much easier to maintain a high level of productivity when you feel fresh. As such, it’s vital to recharge every now and then after putting in some solid work.

Some things you can do to relax include going for a short walk, doing some light reading or conversing with your coworkers around the water cooler. Allow your mind some space to breath, so it can be ready for the next sprint.

#2 – Procrastination is your worst enemy

The main thing to remember about procrastination is that we all do it. Maybe not like back in college, when a 10-page research paper wouldn’t get written until 3am the night before, but it’s still prevalent nonetheless.

It’s easy to identify the culprits that take up valuable work time – Facebook, fantasy football rosters, cigarette breaks, etc. The main thing to figure out is what tasks you generally procrastinate the most on, and why it is that you have such a difficult time with them. Once you identify those issues, come up with a solution to get those assignments done more efficiently.

For instance, you could break up the more boring tasks, get them done at the start of the day so you don’t have to think about them anymore or delegate them to somebody who doesn’t find them as taxing.

#3 – Prioritize your workload

If you find yourself constantly racing against the clock to meet a deadline then you probably have to take more time to prioritize your workload. When people jump around from one project to another, it may seem like they’re getting a lot done; however, it’s much more productive to work on one project at a time, in order of importance.

At the start of each day, sit down and make an ordered list of the things you have to get done. As new projects come in, re-evaluate the list and make any necessary changes. While some people claim they work better when panicking to meet a deadline, it’s much easier to maintain a high level of productivity if you complete your work one project at a time well before they have to be done.

#4 – Block out distractions

It’s easy to get distracted throughout the day given how connected the world has become with the advent of social media. People are constantly attached to their computers and smartphones as if not seeing an email for half an hour would be the end of civilization as we know it. When you have work to get done, close your personal email and Twitter feed and even consider turning your phone off. Obviously there are circumstances that would require you to keep your phone on, but having some time away from your Blackberry can increase your productivity tenfold. If you find yourself continually drifting to recreational websites, make a deal with yourself that those sites need to remain closed for the next two hours, or until lunch.