Would you say you’re a productive person? Do you get enough done each day? If the answer to both of these questions is a resounding no, you need to change your ways sooner rather than later. It’s time to step up your game and get the most out of your time. Here are some of the most powerful ways to boost your productivity levels.
How Sleep Affects Your Productivity
Not getting enough sleep each night? If you’re guilty of burning the wick at both ends, you could find that it has a direct negative impact on your productivity levels during the day. Believe it or not, many American adults simply are not getting the regular rest that their bodies need.
Here are the facts: The American Sleep Association recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours sleep in each 24-hour period. Despite this, more than 35% of adults get less than seven hours sleep at night. What’s more, between 50 and 70 million people in the US now have a sleep disorder, which may stop them from getting sufficient rest.
Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who failed to get enough sleep (due to insomnia or other disorders) were less productive and less safe than other workers.
Struggling to get your 40 winks? If you find it hard to drift off to the land of nod, there are some simple things that you might want to try. Small lifestyle changes could help you swap those sleepless nights for some proper rest. Here are some to consider:
Switch off your smartphone
What do you do right before you hit the hay? For many of us, the answer to that question is the same. We spend minutes or even hours looking at things on our phone screens. Whether you’re checking Facebook or replying to a last-minute email, that screen-time could be doing you more damage than good.
According to a study from the University of Haifa, the blue light emitted from your phone screen damages the duration of your sleep and the quality of it too. While you can get screen dimmers and change the color of your background, the best way to prevent this problem is to switch off your phone altogether. Night, phone!
Get into a steady routine
Some people are hyper-organized and have a solid day-to-day routine. Then there’s the rest of us. If you find that your schedule tends to be erratic, your sleep might follow suit. One study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that maintaining a regular routine each day was linked to better sleep and lower levels of insomnia.
Try a little mindfulness
There’s been a whole load of hype surrounding mindfulness in recent years. There’s a reason that people incessantly tell you about this lifestyle habit. It works. We already know that mindfulness can decrease stress levels and combat anxiety, but what can it do when it comes to improving how you sleep at night?
Research published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal found that mindfulness meditation could help people get a better quality sleep. The research also found that it tackled some of the most common sleep disruptors, such as low moods, depression, and a reduced quality of life. You could download a mindfulness app or try taking a class.
Productive Lifestyle Habits to Adopt
Now that you’ve got your sleep in check, let’s talk about your lifestyle overall. If you feel as though you don’t get enough done each day, it’s likely time to switch things up and try something new. After all, as Einstein is often quoted (but probably didn’t actually say): “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” With that in mind, here are five ways you can boost your productivity.
Take regular breaks
When you’re short on time, you might think that taking breaks will slow you down. In fact, the opposite might be true. Failing to give yourself short gaps in your work is likely to pull you down and make the whole process slower. Why not take five minutes and watch some cat videos on YouTube?
While it could sound like a ridiculous (and time-wasting!) idea, research shows that viewing cute cat videos actually boosts energy and performance levels. Short, frequent breaks could be just what you need to give you that extra boost. Nobody has the stamina to keep working and working for hours on end. Take a minute. You deserve it.
Exercise each day
You might have seen this one coming. If you have a desk job, your inactivity is likely to blame for your low productivity levels. Men are meant to move around and burn all that energy they have on a daily basis. Think about it. Cavemen didn’t pass the day sitting slumped in front of a fire—they were out there catching their food. As much as we’ve evolved in some ways, in others we’ve taken a distinctly backward turn. Luckily, there’s a quick way to tackle this issue. Exercise.
Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that spending a little of the work day getting active made people more productive. It’s a simple equation. Here are some things you could try:
- Take a walk during your lunch break
- Stand up and do 10 squats
- Walk around the office (instead of emailing people!)
- Keep a small dumbbell on your desk (and use it)
Sure, you probably can’t do a full-on workout during work hours (if you can, go ahead!) but you can try these little things. Change your routine today.
Stop trying to multitask
Trying to do a million things at once? Stop it. You might think that you’re being clever by dealing with three tasks instead of one but you’re probably doing them all badly. Multitasking is a myth. A revealing study from the American Psychological Association found that trying to do too many tasks at once undermines people’s efficiency.
The reason is that it mentally takes us time to switch from one task to another. Answering that emailing while you’re in the middle of a report takes more than mere minutes. You have to account for the time it takes your mind to catch up. Focus on one thing at a time.
Get some alone time
People are a serious distraction. Working (or trying to get anything done) when you’re surrounded by people is going to be difficult. Research from the University of Calgary suggests that working alone could be the key to getting more done. If you’re able to work from home or sit in a private area, for your own sake do it!
5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity
The technological world offers many a distraction which can get in the way of your productivity levels. Luckily, tech—specifically your smartphone—can also counteract that problem with the use of some apps. Yes, there are a whole host of productivity-inducing apps out there that claim to be able to help you get more done. But wait, which are the best on the app or play store? Here are five to get you started:
You don’t always have your computer or laptop with you when you travel. If you’re out for lunch or on the train and a brilliant idea strikes you, what do you do? Many of us simply write it down in a notebook, but what if there were another way? Evernote is an app for your phone that links to a desktop app too. That means that you can type out notes on your smartphone and they will automatically sync to your computer.
Rather than having to remember a ton of different things each day, you can refer back to your notes—either on your computer or on your phone. Simple. This handy app is certain to save you time and make you more productive on a day-to-day basis. Give it a shot.
Download the app here
Are you addicted to your smartphone? The short answer is probably yes. Statistics show that 89% of Americans look at their phone within an hour of waking up and 81% of us check it within the hour before we sleep. We tend to look at our smartphones around 47 times each and every day. Needless to say, that time could be better spent doing something useful and… productive.
If you want to break the habit and regain more minutes in your day, there’s a handy app that could help you. Forest plants a seed when you put your phone down and the plant starts to grow so long as you don’t touch it for a while. The longer you leave your phone untouched, the bigger the forest will grow. By giving yourself a break from the little device, you can get on with more important things.
Download the app here
Arguably, one of the keys to high productivity is having a proper ‘to do’ list going at all times. Many people find that this is a useful way to stay on top of all those pesky little tasks that would otherwise slip your mind. If you’ve ever looked for a list app for your smartphone, you will know that there are almost too many to count. It may feel like there’s simply too much choice so which should you choose?
Wunderlist is one of the top-rated and often featured in articles and blog posts. The biggest selling point of this app is that, much like Evernote, it works across a range of platforms and syncs perfectly. Once you’ve created an account, you can start making different ‘to do’ lists from movies you want to watch to work commitments.
Download the app here
Boosting your productivity doesn’t happen overnight. It takes careful planning and scheduling to get right. That’s where Productive comes into play. This simple time management app can help you to plan your days, weeks, or even months in advance so that you make every minute count. It’s pretty easy to use too.
Perhaps one of the best features is ‘streaks’—when you stick to your goals or habits day after day, you build a streak in the app. If you’ve ever played a game and become obsessed with getting that all-important high score, this feature will work for you. The idea is that you start to build regular habits as part of your schedule.
Download the app here
Procrastination kills productivity. If you sit down to write an email but accidentally find yourself trailing through YouTube watching silly prank videos, this one’s for you.
Taking control of your time could be as straightforward as downloading the Toggl app. When you want to do something important, you simply write down what it is and start a timer. The app then tracks how long the project/email/chore takes.
Since you’re being timed, you should have no problem staying focused on one task. What’s more, you can get handy reports at the end of each week or month so you can see what you spend the majority of your time doing. Neat, right?
Download the app here
Of course, it goes without saying that getting these apps is not going to solve all of your productivity problems. It’s how you actually use them that matters. Think of these five things as tools that you can start using to help you craft a better, more productive life.
Start being more productive today!
What are you waiting for? Now that you’ve got the tips and tools to be more productive, the real work starts. Using this guide to productivity, you should find that getting more done and wasting less time is doable. There’s no time like the present—quit procrastinating and get started today.