Naomi Simson is all about a digital detox when it comes to increasing productivity.
Naomi Simson is all about a digital detox when it comes to increasing productivity. Hollie Adams

BIZTALK: Naomi Simson's productivity tools and hacks

Naomi Simson joins Queensland Times as a guest columnist for our latest series, Business Class. 

MY NUMBER one productivity hack could almost be classified as an 'anti-hack', given it involves giving up the very thing most people associate with increased productivity. For me, it's all about 'leaving the phone alone' and having digital down time.  

There is so much research out there on the impact of mobile phones on productivity in the workplace. Sure, some apps, tools and programs can support us to be more productive (and I'll get to those), but does the cost of lost productivity outweigh the upside?  


Studies have shown it takes 23 minutes on average to recover and refocus after a distraction at work. At the same time it's been shown that people between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day. I'll let you do the math.  

Simply having our mobile devices visible and audible in the office can be a massive productivity drain.   

The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance found the rate of errors made after simply hearing or feeling an alert on one's phone was actually about the same as if someone had in fact physically answered the call or message.  

So how do people stay focused when the very thing that distracts us seems such a necessity for doing business?    For me, I try to limit the distractions by leaving my phone in my bag when I'm at the office; switching off all notifications and limiting myself to checking social channels before and after work.   

I also allocate windows of time during the day to check my email so as not to become ruled by it.

Welcome to our Business Class series.
Welcome to our Business Class series. News Corp

But more than this, it's about creating a sense of intention in everything you do. Every morning as I sip my first coffee of the day, my partner and I reflect on "what is the purpose of the day?", "what are we grateful for?", and "what did we discover yesterday?"   

This reflection takes but a few minutes but is a key investment in our day. Similarly, each day I write a list that simply says "I cannot go to bed tonight until I…".    Sometimes there is only one thing on that list, but it keeps me focused on the plan at hand.  

You can see what I am saying here; my productivity comes from the headspace I'm in.   

So here are some of my other simple tools, apps and basic tips for supporting a productive mindset.  

  • Trello - I use this free online task manager in my own team to track the tasks we have coming up, what we're currently focusing on and what we have achieved that week. It shows me at a glance what my team are working on, where we need to re-prioritise and acts as a reminder of all we've achieved. Because key to maintaining productive people is ensuring you celebrate wins along the way.
  • Headphones - in the era of open plan offices it can sometimes be a challenge to get and stay focused. With so much activity, conversation and general hubbub going on around the office, it can be hard to stay productive. One BRG employee admits to putting on headphones - with no music playing - to create the mirage of a wall when he has a demanding task requiring extended concentration.
  • Calm, meditation app. To encourage sound sleep and a productive start to the next day, this is a great little tool.
  • Take time out to foster your wellbeing and that of your employees. The deeper reason for my productivity is that happy people equal happy profits. Thomas Wright, professor at Fordham University, claims employee happiness accounts for as much as 10-15 per cent of the variance in performance between different employees. In a 40-hour week that could mean more than three-quarters of an hour in lost productivity, every day. Happiness is a powerful key in maximising productivity in the workplace. Gallup tells us that disengaged workers cost billions in lost productivity, whereas engaged employees are more profitable, more customer-focused, safer and more likely to stick around. In fact, organisations with a happy workforce have 20 per cent higher profits. And a profitable company has greater resources to support its employees - so the cycle continues.

An entrepreneur and business leader; Naomi Simson co-founded the Big Red Group in 2017. BRG is all about serving experiences to different audiences through its various brands: RedBalloon, Adrenaline, BRG serves an experience every minute as the third largest experience marketplace of its type in the world. In this series we present some of her key learnings on how she grew her businesses.