4 Productivity Tips (that don't require coffee)
We've all had the long day where you got to the end and had only a headache to show for it...
That’s your brain (and your body) telling you that it’s being overworked. Your brain is no longer being productive, and you need to switch off.
In today’s day and age, we’re inundated with information. It flies at us constantly, all day, every day. Meetings, deadlines, emails, texting, applications, social media profiles. It’s easy to see why so many of us need a cup of coffee several times a day.
But it really doesn’t have to be this way. Other than the fact that caffeine dependence comes with a whole host of problems, surely there has to be a better way. Right?
What’s happening inside my brain?
Your brain is constantly going over things that it has learned, sorting information and reinforcing important concepts. You might have noticed the wonders that a good night’s sleep does for your problem solving ability. Several studies have proven that your memory depends a lot on the quality of your sleep.
It’s a natural reaction to want to cram as much information as possible into your waking hours. However, doing it when your brain is already overworked or when you’re tired and sleepy is a bad idea.
Rest is an essential component of learning and productivity. But sometimes rest is not always possible for a lot of us parents and/or entrepreneurs...
- Take some time to do nothing at all.
The average person has somewhere around 60,000 thoughts in a day...crazy...
To take control over this constant barrage of thoughts. Sit on the front porch with some sweet tea or a glass of wine and just sit. No phones, no distractions. Just take time for yourself to do nothing!
- Cut out social media while working.
Sometimes I get great inspiration and ideas from an Instagram post...but then I get distracted on the 100 other things I see, and by the time I'm done 15 minutes has past. I have found that some of my most productive days are the ones I didn't pick up my phone at all. Allow yourself to truly focus. In a busy work day, an extra 10-15 mins is like GOLD!
- Make sure you get enough rest.
“Increased productivity” and “Optimal performance” can often be vague terms, open to misinterpretation. A lot of people mistake being “busy” for being “productive”. So let’s talk about an actual figure that will put this into perspective.
According to a Harvard Study, American companies lose $63.2 billion a year due to decreased productivity caused by sleep deprivation.
Seriously, that makes me want to take a nap right now... Here’s some more scientific data – when you’re working hard for more than 90 minutes at a stretch, your body has to trigger stress hormones like adrenalin, cortisol and noradrenalin to keep you going. This triggers a series of reactions in your body that causes it to switch into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, which is a survival mechanism and subjects the body to undue stress.
You don’t automatically have to advance your alarm clocks by a few hours in light of this information. Studies show that taking short, strategic breaks throughout the day is actually a better way to increase productivity. Researchers have demonstrated that 60-90 minute naps restore memory functionality to the extent that it would after eight hours of sleep.
Another popular productivity technique that uses the body’s natural mechanisms to boost performance is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique utilizes 25 minute periods of undisturbed work followed by short breaks. There are several free apps you can install on your phone to help you get started with the Pomodoro method.
- Surround yourself with capable people.
You might be a highly-motivated, efficient worker. But, you’re still a human. And by definition, that means you’re incapable of doing everything by yourself. So, what’s a great way to increase productivity? Surround yourself with a team of skilled people that you can rely on. Someone you can laugh with, talk with and enjoy being with!
Being more productive is often a counter-intuitive process. Sometimes, you need to do less to get more results. Stop overworking yourself and being ‘busy’ for the sake of it. Business isn't Busy-ness!