Monthly articles with valuable info to strengthen your team force
June 12, 2018
5 Ways to Increase Your Productivity in the Mornings
Legend says there are two kinds of groups you can meet at your workplace: the early risers, rare creatures who actually have breakfast and arrive right on time at the office. On the other hand, we have the night owls who tend to enjoy the silence and calm of the night to do some work, catch a movie, cook a meal, or just enjoy the pleasure of not doing anything even when this means a hectic morning the next day.
The last ones usually envy the level of energy and motivation the first ones have in the morning, but even they don’t wake up every day feeling fresh and renewed, because you know, life happens.
So there’s no right or wrong with being either of them but in order to give the best of ourselves and share this energy with the rest of our fellows, here are 5 ways (that don’t include caffeine) to train ourselves to be more productive at work:
It’s logical to think that a productive morning is directly linked with getting a good sleep the night before, right? Well, seems like is not so logical for all of us.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 65% of American adults think sleep helps them reach effectiveness. Even though most of them are aware of this fact, just 10% of Americans consider sleeping as one of their main priorities. There are also previous NSF studies that find sleep health is highly connected with general health, stress and life comfort.
So, how can you improve your sleeping habits in order to achieve higher effectiveness, better health, calm, personal satisfaction and get all the richness of the world (ok, maybe not the last one). And how does staying away from your tech toys have anything to do with it?
Specialists of the NSF affirm using electronic devices before bedtime delays the beginning of your REM sleep ( the sleep stage that is associated with assimilating new information and retaining crucial neural pathways ) and even makes it more difficult to fall asleep. So they recommend avoiding using TVs, smartphones, tablet or any other electronic device at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Actually, the ideal time is 2 hours but you have to work on what’s feasible for your daily routine, right? So, don’t steal tomorrow’s energy for that extra Netflix hour, it’s just not worth it at a long term.
But what if you are all about spontaneity and making every moment as unique as possible? As hip and edgy that may sound, it’s not the best way to get things done on working days, basically because there are a lot of things out of your control that will play against you, such as traffic, a missed alarm or something else. These unexpected events will definitely make you anxious, but having some habits already set can help reduce your stress level in these kinds of situations. So basically drama can knock your door, but you can knock it harder if you are prepared.
Another reason to embrace morning routines is the energy you save by not taking decisions. Sounds weird, right? Psychology studies have proved that our quality of decisions reduces after making them over a long period of time, this concept is known as “decision fatigue”.
This is the reason why Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, along others choose to wear almost the same outfit every day. Is not about avoiding decisions, is more about selecting the ones that are going to have a bigger impact on your day or life and save energy for them.
So, what can help you reduce making decisions? Routines, which are basically a sequence of habits that will make your morning nicer. There’s not a magic routine that works for everyone, but there are some crucial aspects to consider when defining one:
– Waking up on time
This will depend if the night before you went to bed on time.
– Drinking water
You’ve slept for at least 6 hours, that means you’ve spent 6 hours or more with no water on your body.
– Eating breakfast
Your mind and body need the energy to start working.
– Checking your goals
This gives you perspective and purpose.
You will feel better after visually deleting your bullets.
– Reserving time for yourself
Time to run, meditate, read, write, something that allows you to clear your mind.
You don’t have to expect 7 days a week of perfect coordination and routine accomplishment, it’s okay to skip one day or even two. Just keep in mind that it must bring you joy, after all, bringing order in your life is a process, not a final circumstance.
Many of us struggle with procrastination and the overwhelming feeling of having pending tasks during our working days and even on weekends with the house chores. A list by itself won’t do the trick, but it will certainly be a starting point to make things better, so how can we use lists to help us be more productive in the mornings?
Whether is a life goal, a work project or a social activity, most tasks are easier to do if we break them into small pieces. For example, let’s say you are in charge of organizing the big annual office party. Unless you have a side job as an event planner, the title “organizing annual party” on your list may seem tedious (almost terrifying) for anyone, right? So, you will start postponing the starting point or take more time than needed.
But, what if we break it into small tasks and even those on smaller tasks? You can create a list with 4 topics: Music, Food, Decoration and Special performance, and start listing small tasks for each. Here’s an example:
These bullets seem way more friendly than a single big scary title, so this will not only make it easier but also motivating because you will actually see how these small tasks will be checked daily. Start small, be realistic with your time and don’t worry if you don’t complete every item.
Sounds a little too aggressive, but here’s the explanation. There’s always one big job to do during the day and it seems big because it takes too much time, effort, focus or any other reason, so you will try to avoid it until there’s no other option left more than just do it, ugh. Well, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Brian Tracy, author of “Eat the frog”, explains the benefit of starting your day doing the least favorite thing on your list. But why we should work in this manner? Because the satisfaction of getting over your biggest or hardest task gives you the boost to tackle the rest of them. Besides, once you have done the biggest task, you can confidently go knowing the “worst” part of your day is over and you got away with it.
Although this is a great option, it will definitely take a lot of willpower and commitment, two attributes may not be your strong points, but don’t worry, you are not alone. There’s a Harvard study called “The power of Small Wins” that explains the similarities between the events that impel energy, motivation, and direction from the perspective of different professions and how the accomplishment of every small work boost enough energy to maintain that motivation through your day.
So think about your strengths and unique rhythm to figure out the option that is going to match better with your needs and expectations. Remember you can always try again.
Science defines “attention span” as the amount of time someone can stay focused on a particular task. Psychologists explain there is a different level of concentration for everybody, and from their perspective, the capability of paying attention is vital in order to accomplish our personal goals.
However, despite the fact your working hours may be from 9 am to 5 pm, it’s naturally impossible to expect a person to be focused 8 hours straight. So what’s the average time? And what can we do to work effectively with our own level of attention?
Well, there’s no such thing as “average time”, mainly because it would depend on the activity the person is doing, the interest on it, the age and many other variables. But what we can actually claim is that there are diverse manners to increase the time we pay attention to a certain task.
– Are you happy?
A little profound question for a “5 ways to…” article, but it is a scientific fact that we stay more time focused on activities we actually enjoy. So, if you are at a job you don’t like or even hate, you may have a hard time trying just to make it until lunchtime and that’s not healthy or fair for anyone. Maybe it’s time to look for another job or think about the big reason behind the decision of being there because after all is just your choice.
That being said, we may have gotten our dream job and even in those circumstances, we will have certain tasks that won’t be completely enjoyable, like sending a big email, filling out paper forms, preparing a presentation, etc. A feasible solution for these situations is to organize your duties strategically in order that the not preferred activities are just right before and after the top favorite ones, like an encouragement sandwich that will keep your good mood and willingness.
– Take a break
Your brain, as the rest of your body, gets tired. Shocking, right? The thing is you don’t need to lay on your bed in order to rest, a simple break out of your computer, tablet or smartphone screen will do the trick. The time to take will depend on the amount of time you have spent focused on your previous task. Despite there is a research that suggests taking 17 minutes of break per every 52 of work, no scientific study affirms a specific time.
The important aspect about your break is that it must be served strategically and according to your own attention span, but more importantly, don’t forget to take one, whether you set an alarm or not. In order to boost your energy and motivation, you must get up from your chair and take a walk, eat a snack far from your desk, talk to a colleague, call a friend or do the activity you prefer.
So it’s not about the longest time working, but how we manage our energy in the best possible way.
There might be at least one of the aforementioned options that sound realistic for you in this particular moment of your life, and that’s great. Everything doesn’t have to work for everyone. Just give it a try and remember to keep your personal goals as the big picture behind the whole effectivity purpose, because giving the best of you should always be for your own benefit.