Increasing your personal productivity will let you get more done and stay focused on your goals and objectives. Sounds like a perfect scenario, doesn’t it? Making employees more productive is also something that most employers wish for when they think of improving their business results. Knowing how important it is and how difficult at the same time, they reach for various performance-boosting methods. In fact, seeing more and more things on your to-do list, you probably start to wonder yourself what to do to be more productive. The search results for “how to increase personal productivity” suggest that you should start from testing different productivity techniques and find one that is most suitable for yourself. And that’s by no means wrong! Finding the one that works for you is definitely one of the steps you should take towards your goal. But is it really the first one?
There are loads of techniques and frameworks that are to help you improve your personal productivity. You could start making to-do lists and experiment to find out the most efficient way of preparing them. If you prefer agile frameworks, why not organise your workload on a kanban board? You could also test some of the most popular productivity techniques, such as Eat That Frog or the Pomodoro technique. But before you do any of that, consider a different approach – one that has been put forward by Josh Davis in his bestselling book “Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done”.
In his book, Davis highlights the role of the biological factors behind productivity and argues that, when striving for greater efficiency, we should first take care of our body and its biological needs, as they have direct impact on the functioning of our brain. His research is based on the theory of embodied cognition which suggest that biological needs are what we should focus on more when structuring our days. Changing the approach to our bodies, Davies argues, can be beneficial for our productivity. He criticises reinforcing the cultures that reward trying to be busy all the time and suggests that instead of supporting such an approach, we should rather promote lifestyle which helps us become our most effective selves based on the signals our body gives us.
So what should you start with when trying to be more productive?
Regular exercise is extremely beneficial for our overall well-being and can work wonders for our productivity. According to Davis, moderate physical exercise reduces anxiety and makes it easier to focus and be present, which can result in increased productivity and better work results. It doesn’t mean that you have to spend long hours at the gym. Instead, think of a short, light workout that you can do at work during a break. Take a short walk or do some jogging and you’ll certainly think more clearly and be able to focus without much effort. You could also suggest that your company organises a stretching session or a short yoga class during a break or in the morning, before you start work. Gather your colleagues and you’ll all be happier and more productive!
As obvious as it may sound, good eating and drinking habits are in fact notoriously neglected. You eat a breakfast at home (or not, to make things worse) and then you hardly find the time to go for lunch, not to mention eating fruit or a snack in the meantime. Food is vital for stable blood sugar and without it, you’ll always find it hard to focus and stay productive. So however busy your day is, remember to plan your lunchbreak and eat something nutritious. Make sure you have some healthy snacks to reach for throughout your day to help you maintain a proper level of energy.
Also, remember to stay hydrated, and no – it doesn’t mean drinking one cup of coffee after another. In fact, too much caffeine can make it harder to focus, even though it seems to be helping. So instead of a coffee, make sure you always have a glass of water with you and better still, water with lemon or honey as it’s not only tasty but also good for your health.
Mindfulness is about being present and focusing attention on the very moment you’re experiencing. And that’s exactly what you need to stay focused and productive. So when you’re just about to get distracted and stop doing what you’re focused on because you’ve suddenly remembered you should also do something else, take a moment to think about your priorities. Make a conscious decision to continue doing the task you’ve started and only then go on to the next one. Teach your mind to pause and choose what you want to focus on – it will help you stay focused for a longer time.
It has been proven that we can’t be productive for full 8 hours, no matter how hard we try. We have our productivity peaks and we should learn to recognise them and make good use of them. On the other hand, we should also learn to take breaks when we feel our body needs it and not feel bad about it. Taking a break will make you more productive than sitting at your desk trying to focus when your body tells you to stop for a moment.
It’s also crucial to take proper rest once you leave the office. Even though you certainly have a lot on your plate and days are too short for all of that, you should make sure you leave some time to just relax. You might want to just sit on your couch and do nothing or relax in an active way – whatever you like, just don’t forget about it!
You don’t want your work environment to distract you, so make sure you create conditions in which you feel comfortable. Take care of good lighting, keep your desk clean and put on headphones with your favourite music. If you re on a task which requires you to fully focus, find a quiet place in the office, where no one will interrupt you. Mute email and chat notifications and check them only once an hour or so. Experiment to see what works best for you and you’ll see the benefits very quickly.
Do you take proper care of your body to stay productive? Share your tricks and ideas to stay focused and think clearly!