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Wake up early, have a routine, focus on one thing at a time. We’ve heard this all before. For some it works, but for most of us in customer service, the good old productivity clichés just aren’t enough.

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In order to maintain top concentration and maximize productivity in an environment where priorities shift all the time and agents’ main challenge is to manage chaos, we need to get creative. Here are some ideas that are working for us (or at least we hope they are):

1. Give (10+2)x5 a try

This formula is magic. Doing deeply focused work for 10 minute intervals, following up with a 2 minute break in concentration helps customer service agents go through more tickets and deliver better solutions. This structure helps foster a routine, and while having 10 minutes break every hour may seem like a waste, it’s the 50 minutes of deep concentration that matter to high productivity.

2. Create a break agenda

If you’re not able to follow the above formula to the dot, the least you can do is create an agenda for your daily micro-breaks. Setting this reward framework will trick your brain into speeding up and concentrating harder on your work at hand. One way to reinforce the effects of this practice is to associate breaks with some kind of activity, like making a warm cup of tea or dipping your fingers in the cookie jar.

3. Take cold showers

Now we’re getting to the truly unorthodox parts. A nice cold (or an ice-cold) shower in the morning will get your heart pumping, flush you with adrenalin and sharpen your reflexes and capability to focus deeply. Many high-performance athletes and entrepreneurs have adopted this approach into their daily routines, to astounding productivity gain. A smart way of keeping the cold shower effects from wearing off is to fit in a brief round of exercise mid-day, which should give you a nice dose of endorphin and skyrocket your concentration. Just don’t try too hard, or else you might need another trip to the bath.

4. Become productively lazy

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”

Bill Gates said this at the peak of Microsoft’s success. And clearly, he must have been on to something. Creative solutions often come from people who don’t want to accept the boredom of the established way of doing things. In customer support, above all other fields, such creativity should be encouraged, as every time a better solution path is discovered, it can be implemented into the team’s process to make things easier for many similar cases in the future.

5. Re-decorate your desk

This final one is a personal advice from me. If your work space is a mess, if finding things takes more than a split second, and if you surround yourself with too many distractions, then you are not setting yourself for optimal performance. Creating a gadget-free environment is sure to help against unwanted distractions, while maintaining an organized desk will speed up all your work activities, even if by a small margin. Treat your work environment like your mind – keep it organized, with all of its individual components easy to access.