Jump-Start Your Productivity With These 6 Tips!
Whether you’re a CEO or looking to land that perfect grad job, you have no doubt experienced periods of poor focus. We’re all under constant attack from distracting devices, energy slumps and painstaking processes that can kill our productivity if we let them.
Here are a few tips and tricks to steer clear of these pitfalls, in order to maintain your focus and increase your energy levels.
Rest well, work well
Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
– Thomas Dekker –
First and foremost: if you take care to sleep well, you will be more productive.
If you’re burning the candle at both ends and rely on excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar, there’s little hope of avoiding burnout. Leave the devices out of the bedroom. Winding down is crucial to getting good sleep.
If you can’t bear to think about leaving your laptop downstairs when it’s time to hit the hay, try installing an app like f.lux or Twilight which takes the blue light out of your screen, softening the stimulating effect of your device.
Fatigue is at the root of dulled creativity and inefficient work. Getting into the habit of going to sleep at a set time, winding down and avoiding the glow of social media are paramount to waking up refreshed. Then you can start to take your focus and productivity to the next level.
Listen to music
Music can be an extremely helpful motivator when those post-lunch energy slumps hit. However, throwing on any old tune to bring back your mojo isn’t going to help. Though it often depends on personal taste, there are some overarching rules that apply to harnessing the productive power of your iTunes library.
If you want to concentrate on tasks like writing, ditch anything with lyrics. Most people in a busy work environment note ‘indistinct chatter’ as the most distracting noise.
Winning genres are classical music and ambient electronic music. However if either of those aren’t your particular brand of vodka, stick to songs you know well. Your knowledge of what is coming next will allow you concentrate on what your supposed to be doing, rather than on being surprised by the interesting musical structures of this new tune you’ve discovered.
Break it up, buttercup
Taking breaks regularly is essential to remaining focused and switched-on while working. Recent studies suggest that taking a break once an hour will keep your focus high when undertaking the same task.
The study was predicated on the concept that in the same way your body becomes habituated to unnecessary sensory information – e.g. like how you stop feeling clothes on your skin after a while – perhaps the same happens for your brain when faced with the same cognitive information over a prolonged period of time. Conclusion – go and grab a cuppa before your brain gets habituated!
Equally, getting up from a sedentary position not only has great benefits for your focus and energy levels, it could be necessary to combat all the negative health effects that sitting for over 50% of the day can have.
Don’t try to do too much
Productivity doesn’t lie in ticking twenty-five things off a bulging to-do list. Instead, streamline your to-do list. Whittle it down to the most important tasks and get stuck into them in the morning when you’re likely to have most energy.
Though it feels nice to be achieving goals at a record pace, if those goals include ‘get to work’, ‘successfully eat lunch’ or ‘make list of things to do’ you need to revisit your to-do tactics.
Leave the bingeing for Game of Thrones
In a typical 9-to-6 office job, the majority of work is done in a seated, sedentary capacity. Couple this with the tradition of eating three heavy meals throughout the day and you have a recipe for a rollercoaster ride in energy levels.
Eat smaller portions more regularly to boost your metabolism and keep energy up. Think of your metabolism as a fire to keep burning, kindling to start with – breakfast – and then add small amounts to it to build it up. Avoid throwing a huge log – an overindulgent lunch – onto a small fire. We want the fire to burn well, and for a long time, to keep us as focused as possible.
Most people are aware that loading up on leafy greens, whole grains and fresh fruit will be more beneficial than McDonalds and cake. It goes without saying that sticking to these types of food is going to help your general health and subsequent energy levels.
Finally, please put down the Red Bull. If you absolutely need a caffeine hit, treat yourself to a weak coffee or make yourself a tea, while resisting the temptation to cram it full of sugar.
In a study published by Dutch journal Tijdschr Psychiatr entitled ‘The effects of energy drinks on cognitive performance’, it was concluded that though energy drinks improved focus, attention, and immediate recall, these improvements can be attributed to caffeine, not the other ingredients found in energy drinks.
Train yourself to be better
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle –
Many of these tips are not short-term, quick fixes. If you have one night of good sleep and eat more healthily for a day, that’s not going to keep you focused for the next working week. Consistency is key.
Small changes in habits that are repeatedly actioned will result in big improvements. Training yourself in good habits will have your firing on all cylinders in no time.