8 simple changes to make yourself more productive each day
1. Use your commute to learn new things
As tempting as it can be to spend your trip to work scrolling through umpteen Instagram pictures of delicately styled avocados from your friends’ brunch expeditions, your commute is a time that can so easily be spent wisely.
Think about switching off and trying a guided meditation on the app Headspace (takes 10mins), listening to an audiobook on productivity such as Richard Koch’s The 80/20 Principle or podcasts like TEDTalks or Stuff You Should Know to kick your brain into action.
2. Make an achievable to-do list each evening for the following day
This may seem like an obvious shout, but it’s one that not many of us adhere to each day. Achieving everything you need to starts being able to prioritise things into doable chunks or as I like to call it 'Bunching'. Bunch specific tasks together and schedule time to tackle each 'bunch' ie check emails pre and post lunch rather than flitting into your inbox every 5mins! Try dividing your tasks into before and after lunchtime.
3. Do your worst task before lunch
This is my favourite! Have a phone call you’re dreading making, or an ultra-boring assignment? The sooner you get it done, the better, or so the experts would believe. According to New York Magazine, Behavioural scientist Dan Ariel claims the first two hours that we are awake are often our most productive of the day, so do the things that require brainpower then and leave the less important things for later. OK so if you're like me and an early riser it might not be acceptable to make those calls at 5.30am but you get the idea. Compose the email you have put off, tackle to bills or even just open the bills!
4. Exercise at lunch
Rather than sitting in the canteen aimlessly swiping through your phone, use part of your lunchtime to get your blood flowing instead.
Going for a run in the nearest park or even hopping on a Dublin Bike for twenty minutes before you return to your desk (if there are showers at work) alternatively get out and just get walking for 30mins. In a Duke University research study, published in the October 25, 1999 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, exercise was found to be almost as effective as medication in reducing symptoms of depression and according to Harvard Medical School, exercise boosts the part of your brain that controls verbal memory and learning, along with reducing stress and anxiety that work has caused. Win win in my book!
5. Clear out your living and working areas
Too often, we live absentmindedly under a pile of clutter we always mean to, but never really get around to clearing.
According to Forbes, a messy desk can impair motivation and state of mind so try dedicating fifteen minutes to clearing everything you don’t need from your desk – sheets you don’t need anymore, used notebooks and pens that don’t work.
Repeat this.... everywhere! Car, home, anywhere that you've let clutter accumulate.
6. Drink more water
Not only is not drinking enough water bad for our bodies overall, it can reduce short-term memory, long-term memory recall and even the ability to perform arithmetic, according to Psychology Today,
Not only does drinking constantly throughout the day help your brain on a cellular level, the few minutes spent away from your computer screen to go and fill up your glass serves as a mental break too.
If you can’t handle the tedium of litres of water, try mixing it up with caffeine-free herbal teas, drink sparkling rather than still or add fruit.
7. Try to stop multitasking
Keep finding yourself suddenly looking at about thirty open tabs across a range of devices over your working day? In an age where you’re expected to stay plugged in to any possible contact while completing tasks, you’re not alone. However according to Forbes, the brain can only focus properly on one task at a time, and introducing multiple tasks increases the chances of mistakes and overall decreases productivity. If you imagine when you're multi-tasking that your brain is the multiply tabs open on your computer, of course your brain (and the computer) still works however by shutting down all the unnecessary windows and focusing on one thing at a time, we achieve higher quality work in less time.
8. Get up 15 minutes earlier.
Rumour has it that Anna Winter (Editor of Vogue for almost thirty years) is on the tennis court by 6am each morning, going countless of CEO's who preach 'mind over mattress'. Personally speaking unless you are planning on being in bed at 8pm every night I feel this is not a realistic expectation of ones-self! Get up 15mins earlier, which will give you a chance to go through your emails, check your tasks for the day and properly plan your day before things get busy.... or relish in the 15mins of peace and quiet you may gain at home before the madness starts!