Everyone is fighting the same uphill battle when it comes to productivity. Even those super-productive people that seem to get everything done everyday have to put up a fight. The difference is, these people have a few tricks up their sleeves that help them be more productive, and you can have them too. Even if you’re easily distracted, a habitual “non-finisher” of projects or just feel too run down during the day, these strategies will help get your productivity up there with the best of them, and they’re easier to implement than you think! So, without further adieu, here are the 9 things you can do to become “Super-Productive” at work.
1. Get up & Go to Bed Early
Have you ever gone to bed at 3am and got your recommended 8 hours of sleep only to wake up at 11am and get nothing done for the rest of the day? Of course you have, we all have. That 4-5 extra hours you stayed up last night working may have seemed productive but in reality, your work may not be up to par. Getting up early gives you the advantage of getting one step ahead of your day. According to Tech Crunch, your peak productivity hours are 2-4 hours after you wake up, therefore if you wake up earlier you have more time in the morning to do things like eat breakfast, work out or read a book. By the time you get to work, your brain will be in peak performance mode and ready to take on the day from the moment you get there.
Productive people are really good at this one. They understand that a good nights sleep is in direct correlation with how productive they will be the next day. Not only does everyone function better after a restful nights sleep (Ex. You aren’t tired and grumpy), there are also some deeper processes that go on during sleep that help you to be more productive throughout the day. The main function that occurs when you’re sleeping is memory formation. Do you find yourself with a desk full of sticky notes just to remember what you have to get done in the morning? Sleep will help you with that. Another thing that sleep does is reduce stress. Stress reduction is a key player in productivity because a stressed mind has a harder time focusing on the tasks at hand. The only time your brain gets a true break is during REM sleep, so the deeper and longer your sleep, the better!
If you work somewhere where deadlines are your jam, then you’ve probably forgotten (or chosen not) to take your lunch once or twice to catch up, or get ahead, on a project. While this may have seemed like a good idea at the time (Hey, it’s an extra hour to get stuff done, right?) but taking the time to eat during the day can actually make you even more productive in the long run. Your brain relies heavily on Glucose, or Sugar, to function properly and effectively. Now, we aren’t saying to go get a bag of candy and munch away to increase brain function, in fact, just the opposite. Eating fast burning carbs will cause you to crash and your self-control will go out the window along with your ability to concentrate. Eating balanced meals and healthy snacks throughout the day to keep your blood sugar up will help you concentrate, increase your self-control and ultimately, increase your daily productivity.
This is probably one of the most productive ways to start your day (besides getting up early). If you’ve ever woken up to 10 texts, 26 emails and 3 missed phone calls you’ll know what I’m talking about. According to Entrepreneur.com starting your day with a clear mind and a direct focus will help your productivity exponentially. Depending on your comfort level with meditation, you can either sit uninterrupted for ten minutes with your legs crossed letting your mind wander and relax, use an app like Headspace for a more guided experience, take 10 deep breaths between your shower and eating breakfast or simply make a to-do list. All of these things will give you a clear focus of your day and get your mind prepared for what lies ahead.
5. Take Breaks
This may seem counter-productive but letting your mind rest is one of the best things you can do to stay on your A game. Research from time-monitoring apps have shown that the most productive people are those who work for 52 minutes and take a 17 minute break every hour. This may be a bit of a stretch for some of us, but the principle is the same no matter what the time frame. Taking a short break can prevent cognitive exhaustion and give you better decision making skills, better attention and better focus. All-in-all, this makes your day more productive than someone who works with no breaks and can’t even think straight by 3pm.
6. Finish Tasks
Productive people don’t multitask. I know, it sounds weird. You would think if they were getting so much accomplished throughout the day that they would have to be multitasking, but this isn’t the case. According to Forbes.com, productive people focus on one task at a time and finish it. They don’t bounce back to it 5 times throughout the day trying to get bits and pieces of it done in hopes the whole thing will come together. The key is to buckle down, concentrate on one thing and do it until it’s done. This way you won’t end up with 8 half-finished projects and nothing really ever getting done.
7. Schedule Things
Productive people aren’t random. They don’t leave phone calls or emails waving in the wind to be replied to “whenever”. As you know, “whenever” quickly becomes “never” and you’ve forgotten to respond to that important email or make a call to close a deal. Setting aside a certain time of day to do this is essential for getting these sorts of “little things” done efficiently. Don’t respond to every email or phone call as it comes in. If it’s an urgent and important matter then obviously, deal with it a good way to screen for these calls and emails is to set alerts only for clients and customers who are very important, that way you won’t get distracted by a telemarketer or that “50% off your favourite thing!” email you just received. Taking a half hour to an hour at the end of your day to reply to less important matters via email and phone is a great way to save your “Peak Performance” brain for more important tasks.
8. Physical Activity
Physical activity keeps you healthy. It’s pretty much as simple as that. If you want your brain to function at “peak performance” levels and increase your productivity you need to keep both your body and mind in tip-top shape. This one may seem difficult to incorporate into your daily routine but it will make all the difference. Just 10 minutes of daily exercise will help you have more mental energy, better self-control and more focus. So next time you’re going to drive somewhere for lunch, walk! It’ll give you a little mental boost to get you through your day more productively.
9. Stay Positive
Staying positive is the glue that holds all these productivity strategies together. Didn’t work out today? That’s okay, you’ll do it tomorrow. Had a bag of candy for lunch? Have a salad for dinner, you’re even. Productive people are able to forgive their mistakes or mishaps and move on in a positive way says. Boss added 9 things for you to get done today? You’ll get them all done along with your normal work load (you have all the keys now, it’s easy!). Keep a positive attitude, don’t beat yourself up for the little things and move onwards and upwards.
Start by incorporating even one or two of these strategies into your daily routine. Commit to go to bed an hour earlier or get some daily exercise. In no time, these will become second nature and you’ll be able to include even more productive habits into your day, making you into one of those elusive “Super-Productive” people you’ve only ever read about on the internet.