With our busy personal and professional lives constantly competing, mastering the art of being productive is something we all strive for but few actually achieve. Fortunately for all of you procrastinators, recent research is proving that being productive is actually a science. While it may seem like becoming a slave to your job is the best way to get the most accomplished, this isn’t always the case. Instead, it turns out that implementing these small non-work-related activities into your day will actually help you to do your work better.
It is a common misconception that skipping breakfast is the best way to save calories and lose a little bit of weight. Not only is this false for weight loss, but missing out on the first meal of the day may also be contributing to your poor productivity. Being hungry causes you to be unfocused and negative, which can reflect in your work as well as the way you treat the people around you. While some breakfast is certainly better than no breakfast, try to avoid high-sugar foods like donuts which release sugar quickly into your bloodstream, making you feel groggy faster.
Time your breaks.
To produce your best work, research shows that you should sync your work patterns to your body’s natural energy cycles. 90-minute work intervals with 20-minute rest periods is the best way to maintain your awareness, focus, and energy.
Contrary to popular belief, research shows that trying to multitask actually makes you less productive, not more. This is because your brain is actually incapable of successfully multitasking—instead, you switch rapidly from task to task, which makes it more ineffectual and inefficient in the end.
Exercise in the morning.
It is common to exercise in the evening or directly after work because this fits better with most people’s schedules. However, recent research suggests that exercising in the morning (specifically around 7 am) is the most effective at lowering your blood pressure and giving you a better night’s sleep. Additionally, all of the physical benefits of exercise (endorphins, increased oxygen intake, more brain activity, and warmed-up muscles) will be able to benefit you (and your productivity) throughout your entire day.
Take a power nap.
After lunch, serotonin and dopamine levels will naturally decrease, which is why it is normal to feel so tired and sluggish in the afternoon. Instead of trying to work through the grogginess, try taking a short, 20-minute power nap (or better yet—a stimulant nap) between 1 pm and 4 pm to boost your productivity. Research shows that daily power naps increase your memory, performance, alertness, reaction times, and cognition.
Listen to music.
One of the easiest ways to increase your productivity is to listen to some of your favorite music. According to research, music is linked to the pleasure neurochemical dopamine which can increase your mood, performance, and decision making skills.
Google cute animals.
If all other options fail to increase your productivity, try watching a few YouTube videos of cute animals. According to recent research in Japan, looking at cute creatures increases your care-giving impulses, which in turn makes you more careful and attentive while doing your work.