Productivity is defined as: the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. This is achieved by a mix of factors: motivation, talent, training, work environment, support from others, time management, and even luck. “Productivity hinges on mental energy, a sense of motivation, alertness, and buoyancy. It often emerges naturally from work that one finds inherently meaningful or valuable.”
Does your morning routine consist of a cup of coffee, checking emails, browsing Social Media, downing more coffee, getting the kids ready for school while Googling one last idea, checking notifications (again), more coffee (or 2), and going through your work email?
If this sounds familiar – or just thinking about it makes you tired. Here are some tips to make it through the work day… and don’t stress. You won’t become more productive overnight. But these small adjustments will help you get on the right path. Remember, people are productive for about 90 to 120 minutes at a time, then your brain needs a break. Taking a quick walk or talking to a co-worker may be all you need to refocus on the next task.
1. Quit Hitting the Snooze. (Again)
Your body goes through natural sleep cycles, but when you are woken up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle (REM), you can suffer from “sleep inertia” – that groggy state that lasts for 30 minutes to 4 hours after waking up. The chances of this happening are pretty high, as high as 89%! And can have side effects such as:
- Large amounts of caffeine affecting your heart
- Reduction in memory ability
- Drowsy driving (scary!)
- Being late for work
- Lower productivity in the first part of the day
- Low performance and response time on tasks, loss of concentration
In short, the snooze button is NOT your friend, and may actually making things worse! Here is a short video explaining the science behind the snooze.
2. Put the Phone Down
You don’t need that extra round of CandyCrush or to finish just 1 more chapter (guilty!), before putting the phone down, rolling over and attempting sleep. That’s right ATTEMPTING. Early man slept with the sun, sleeping when it was dark, and rising with first light. This helped his body with the production of melatonin (the hormone that helps us sleep better). By using your phone, having that bright light inches from your face into the wee hours of the night, you disrupt your body’s natural rhythm.
A better practice would be to put the phone down 30-60 minutes before sleep. You will be surprised how much easier dreamland comes to you.
3. Drink a Glass of Water Every Morning
Running late? Grabbed that cup of coffee for the road didn’t ya? After, hopefully, 7-8 hours of rest your body doesn’t need water, it’s only made of like 70% water… it’s not dehydrated from the night or anything. *rolls eyes*
Seriously, we are told to drink about eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon, a day. But what about at night? Water intake can effect brain functionality and energy levels – there are several studies that support this.
So why aren’t you giving your body a glass of water in the morning, throw in a slice of lemon if you like. But, adding this small step to your morning routine may be the start to a beautiful day.
4. Eat Breakfast
Unless you eat while you are sleeping, you probably haven’t eaten in 8-10 hours. Your tank is empty. You wouldn’t expect your car to get you to work empty – so why do you think your body and mind can get you through the morning?
Now, not only are you groggy and dehydrated – you’re hangry. Great start to the day, right? Wrong. Find great, quick and easy breakfast recipes online – some you can even prepare the night before… so those last 30-60 minutes before bed when you aren’t staring at your phone, you could be preparing breakfast… look at you being productive and stuff.
5. Stretch. Move. Add Some Exercise to Your Routine
We all could use a little more movement in our days. This isn’t about staying in shape or losing weight, not that those are bad things. But, sitting in front of a computer for 8-10+ hours 5 days a week or more is just asking for trouble. And slapping that snooze button doesn’t count as a morning workout – no matter how tired you are once you FINALLY get up.
Exercise will help you sleep better, increase blood flow, reduce anxiety, provide better focus, make you more capable of dealing with stress and it gives you something to look forward to. You got up and did something for you. That is an awesome feeling.
Start the day with some ‘brain-busting’ yoga
6. Be Reasonable with Your Tasks
Make a to-do list; keep it simple. We can all make a long, impressive list – but that is a daunting and even terrifying prospect. And is a sure way to set yourself up for failure. Prioritize your list, identify the tasks that are the most important, or the most meaningful.
Do the thing you dread the most first thing in the AM. Get it out of the way while your willpower (and energy) are at their peak. This will make the rest of the day much more enjoyable. As Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”.
7. Stop Multi-tasking – it doesn’t work, really!
Ping! Ping! Ping! Emails, messages, social media – all vying for our attention. Constant distractions, more hats worn at one time in the workplace than ever before – the illusion that we are doing more (and we are) and completing them must be removed. We are actually getting less done. We skim, we shortcut, we cut corners, projects are left incomplete, disorganized and failing.
Science has proven that our brains cannot effectively or efficiently switch from task to task – so as our brains desperately try to keep up – we are actually wasting time. You are more prone to making mistakes or forgetting a task. “Everyone’s complaining of memory issues these days – they’re symptoms of this multitasking epidemic. Then, of course, there’s the rudeness factor, which doesn’t help develop strong relationships with others.”
Also – that extra cup of coffee isn’t going to help. Walk away, disconnect for 10-15 minutes.
8. 5 Minute Cuteness Overload Required
If you find yourself struggling throughout the day, take 5-10 minutes to look at cute animal pictures (yes, seriously, a study in Japan proved it helps – yes, REALLY!) And since you made it this far, let me help you move to your next task:
One Step at a Time – this is a Marathon, not a Sprint
So basically, it isn’t necessarily what you do AT work that make you more productive, but how you prepare for your day at the office. And remembering, slow and steady wins the race, focus on the task at hand before moving on, and your to do list will be crossed off in no time. Go Get’em Tiger!