We seem so obsessed with productivity and efficiency these days, and so much emphasis is placed on these qualities, that in one sense the terms are overused, and the words themselves have lost a part of their meaning. However, even if the terms aren’t always used as they should be, the principles remain sound, and it’s important to know how to remain efficient and productive in your daily life, even when surrounded by distractions. Here’s how you can stay on top:
Regular sleep routines have been found to boost the academic performance of young students. A study by the University College of London revealed that irregular sleep patterns interfere with the cognitive efficiency of students and their study time, simply because their brains are not allowed enough time to rest and process new information and turn it into active knowledge.
The study revealed that regular bedtime schedules help students do better at math and reading, establishing the association between sleep and better productivity and cognitive performance.
Have an active brain
A mistake many of us make daily is to focus on work, while forgetting to sharpen the tools we are working with. Needless to say, how well you’re doing something depends on the tools used and your mastery of those tools.
Your mind is your most important tool. That’s why it’s important to keep your brain active and your skills up to date and sharp.
Improve your skills with educational software, play games that boost your memory, or try role-playing games that help you hone your decision-making skills. All in all, never get complacent with your current level of skill in any area; keep working on them often, to keep your productivity levels soaring.
Have an active lifestyle
A healthy body will boost your cognitive clarity and efficiency. Study after study confirms that active individuals perform better in cognitive-based tasks when they regularly engage with physical activities, whether those activities are focused team sports or playing in the park.
A study published in JAMA Pediatrics recently revealed a link between physical activity and cognitive performance, suggesting that physical exercise boosts cognitive sharpness and might contribute to a productivity boost due to the elevated cognitive capacity it grants the active individual.
Organize your workload smartly
The world is divided into two groups: the people who insist that sprints, or bouts of intense productivity, are the way to boost efficiency. Others feel that Parkinson’s Law applies to work, and that at any time your work will expand to fit the time you’ve allowed for it. Whichever is the case for you, there’s one tip you can apply: organize your workload in meaningful and manageable blocks.
Timing each task will ensure you are not falling behind schedule, and at the same time it will help you stay motivated and alert, allowing you to achieve your productivity milestones within your set timeframe. Another benefit of organizing your workload in smaller chunks is that you never get to feel overwhelmed, because everything has been provided its own block of time.
Squeeze breaks into your daily schedule
There’s something even more useful than a fully filled-in calendar, and that’s a calendar that contains scheduled breaks. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner actually swears by scheduling blocks of time labeled “nothing to do” – in other words, setting aside downtime for decompressing, relaxing, and assessing day to day work and progress.
By scheduling time for doing nothing (no meetings, no writing, no errands) you enable yourself to view your life from a distance and make changes in how you handle your workload, minimize distractions, and boost your efficiency.
More importantly, scheduling downtime means you work with a plan, and you work strategically. Most of us tend to approach work with a robot-like mindset, leaving little time to just sit back and reflect on our efficiency and our approach.
Implementing these tips will help you manage your workload effectively and feel good about your ability to do so.