Do you ever feel like 24 hours just isn’t enough to complete everything you need to get done? Our work weeks are often closer to 50 or 60 hours rather than 40, and this often means long days, a lot of work, and what feels like limited time to complete all the goals you are trying to reach.
It can be easy to get caught in a cycle where you feel that no matter how much you have on your plate, you just can’t focus on completing it all. As work and stress pile up, it can be challenging to feel attentive and motivated. So, how do you work smarter, not harder, and feel as productive as possible?
Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do every day to continually boost your focus. Try these 6 easy steps, and reach your peak productivity all throughout the day.
Take breaks every 90 minutes
According to a study conducted at the University of Illinois, researchers found that people who took regular breaks in their tasks showed no decrease in performance, while the performance of people who didn’t take regular breaks suffered. Similar to our REM cycles in sleep, our focus and attention flux within approximately 90-minute cycles throughout the day. It’s effective to work in sprints; dedicate yourself to your task for about an hour and a half, and reward yourself with a 15-20 minute break away from your work to socialize with a colleague, to grab a healthy snack, or to do something to clear your head.
Eat the right foods
Food has an extremely important impact on brain function, memory, and energy, which all contribute to your productivity levels. Make sure you are nourishing your body and brain with meals and snacks that will boost your cognitive function, such as foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Check out these 7 brain-boosting foods to add to your diet for a sharper mind.
Get the blood pumping
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which enhances alertness and mental function and can be a great way to increase energy and beat the afternoon slump without an extra dose of caffeine. Exercise also releases endorphins, which make you calmer and more equipped to handle work stressors that may be thrown at you during the day. Squeeze a run in on your lunch break, go to that company yoga class, or take a 15-20 minute break walk with a coworker. Better yet, take one of your meetings outside and make it a walking meeting.
Go out to lunch with a big group of friends
You may think you’ll be more productive by taking that working lunch, but in fact, eating your lunch in front of your computer can be detrimental to your focus. Research shows that eating lunch in larger groups makes you more productive. In a comparison of people that ate lunch with a small number of people to a larger group, those who ate with more people showed both higher productivity levels and lower stress levels. Socializing with a larger network during the workday, especially at a time when everyone is taking a break to eat, can be a key way to boost your focus and lower your stress at work.
Work in natural light
In a study conducted at Northwestern University, researchers found that people who worked in spaces that had a lot of natural light slept better and had more vitality during the day. Those that weren’t exposed to natural light reported lower overall sleep quality and energy during the day. This is because lack of natural light disrupts your circadian rhythm, (your internal biological clock) which is heavily influenced by environmental factors and exposure to light. If your office doesn’t have windows or exposure to natural light, try getting outside often throughout the day, or consider buying a lightbox that mimics natural light.
Train your brain
Your brain is a muscle, and working it strengthens it! According to HealthTap doctor Dr. Gina Salcedo-samper, “scientific research shows that challenging your brain makes it stronger! Learn a second language, do mental puzzles, or go back to school/college and learn something new. Find something you can do in your free time or on your commute, such as brain teasers and games, that help hone your mental sharpness.
Author: Maggie Harriman