4 Tips Guaranteed to Increase Productivity

increase productivity burning midnight oil

Sleep – increase productivity

You simply cannot take getting enough sleep for granted.  Without enough sleep you will, literally, slow down. Whether you work shifts, or 9-5 you need enough sleep if you want to increase productivity. Forget about our concept about time – the minutes and hours we stipulate as day and night.  The human body has its own internal circadian clock (which happens to be roughly 24 hours, just over) which, when factored into our routines, keeps our bodies, minds and organs functioning at optimal levels.  We are, of course, able to over-ride these natural rhythms (paying more attention to external clocks) however, over a period of time this will affect our ability to perform at peak levels and decreases our productivity.

Sluggishness, irritability, feeling unwell, compromised immune systems are just a few of the effects of becoming sleep deprived and can lead to serious and long term mental welfare problems if left unaddressed.

There are plenty of articles, advice and tips online about how to get enough sleep (approx. 6-8 hours) and it’s important to know what your individual body needs. Proper attention to knowing what you require and then doing everything you can to ensure you get it, is the easiest way to guarantee your ability to perform at your peak level and increase productivity.

Meditation and/or Mindfulness to increase productivity

Managing stress can sometimes be easier said than done, especially if you work in a highly challenging environment.  However, to mitigate some of our stress levels meditation and mindfulness definitely help. If your mind is over busy, your body slows down, and everything is a struggle. To increase productivity, you need to help your mind regain focus.

Both meditation and mindfulness are terms bandied about a lot these days.  In simple terms they are both used to calm our frenzied minds.  Meditation is an umbrella term, which can include mindfulness, and denotes acknowledging your mind and self-regulating it.  Mindfulness is the act of focussing in on the present whether that be drinking a cup of tea, peeling vegetables or concentrating on your breath.  You are so present in whatever you are doing you can banish any other thought or worry from your mind and only be aware of the act you are doing.

Again there are plenty of exercises in both meditation and mindfulness online, find the one that works for you.  Starting your day with at least 10 minutes has been proven to improve brain functionality for the rest of the day.  Where possible repeating the exercise when you get overwhelmed will also help as it will with sleep if done before going to bed.

Daylight – nature’s way to increase productivity

Going back to the body’s natural rhythms, daylight plays a large factor in our overall well-being.  Before time or clocks were invented we would rise with the daybreak and sleep when night fell.  Today, we are cooped up in buildings with artificial light or in transport travelling to and from our occupations so we get little opportunity to get natural daylight.  This does inhibit some of our bio-chemical messages which in turn affects our productivity.

Standing outside, even on a cloudy of rainy day, with our faces turned up toward the daylight for at least 15 minutes a day gives a boost to our bio-chemistry. By looking into natural daylight your eyes take it in and produces the hormone Serotonin which helps us feel calm and focussed.  It also boosts our vitamin D levels which helps our bones, staves off anxiety and depression and is speculated to assist in fighting off some forms of cancer. So, daylight is nature’s easy boost to increase productivity.

Move More – yes, it’s true, our bodies need exercise to increase productivity

I can hear the groans from here.  We all know that exercise is beneficial for us yet so many of us don’t do it.  ‘Too busy to fit in’, ‘hate the gym’, ‘I don’t want to get sweaty’, we can spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of ways not to exercise.  However, it needn’t be that regimented.

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise when done briskly and in the fresh air.  Taking stairs, cycling, swimming, doing yoga.  It doesn’t really matter what the exercise is just find something that you enjoy or don’t mind doing and doesn’t interfere with your daily routine too much – you’re more likely to keep it up.  Check out my stress busting exercise tips here

The trick is to make sure it puffs you out a bit and gets your heart pumping.  That oxygenates your blood which in turn helps your little grey cells and eliminates nasties from your system at the same time.  If you can find 10/15minutes a day to get a coffee you can substitute one of those times to get a bit of exercise.

If you’re in a sedentary job then get a standing desk at the very least.  You’ll be surprised how much energy you burn when you stand regularly and work at a standing desk, plus it improves posture.

With so many days of productivity being lost to stress as well as back and neck pain, these 4 simple, easily implemented, non-onerous tips really will help you feel better and get some positivity back into your work. Rather than burn the midnight oil trying to cram more work in; try these 4 tips to increase productivity.

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Stress Busting Techniques

We’ve all heard doctors, the media and various medical reports stating how beneficial exercise is good for beating stress but did you realise that it needn’t always be sweating away in a gym, lifting weights or pounding away at a treadmill knowing your body is so going to hurt the next day?

There are great alternatives which also have a soothing effect on your body and soul.

Gentler stress busting…you don’t have to feel the burn

Yoga: There are 7 main types of Yoga (not including the hot, sweaty one where I hate to think about the germs being bred everywhere) and Yoga has been practised for over 5,000 years. 

Hatha yoga: is one where you stretch into positions and hold them and is gentle on joints. I took up Hatha yoga 12 years ago primarily to help strengthen my now damaged joints (I fall over a lot) and have been amazed at how beneficial it has been.

Not only has it helped my joints but it does tone you at the same time. The stretches discover muscles you had forgotten you had and forces them to remember where they should be and how to act – a great antidote to tight shoulders, computer neck, and painful lower backs.

While you are doing it your mind slows down as it concentrates on the pose you are in.  Stress and worry evaporate and a feeling of calmness overtakes you which I wish you could bottle and take away from the class.

Meditation: Don’t groan.  Meditation or practising mindfulness really does calm everything down.  Your heart rate slows, your blood flow increases and thoughts are turned inward forgetting about problems and stress for a while.

It can be a little ‘grrr’ getting into the ‘zone’ but using an app (I use https://www.headspace.com/) which guides you through the process helps.  It also doesn’t have to be for hours like a Bhuddist monk, 10 minutes can be enough.

I have found that I come out of meditation feeling much more energetic and my mind is crystal sharp which helps me whizz through work problems with ease.

Massage: Apart from the obvious benefits of a professional manipulating your aching shoulder muscles, back, legs etc it increases blood flow around your body, muscles and into your brain.  It helps unblock lymphs and pores which in turn helps with circulation and, my favourite bit, it is sooo relaxing I often fall asleep so am not thinking about anything!

Other stress busting suggestions

Water: Some people find they must get sweaty to release stress toxins- so if you are that type then your stress busting technique may be more rigorous. However, to protect your body- I suggest something like swimming- it is great for stamina, strength and suppleness and if you do it first thing in the morning it can set you up for the day. Alternatively- harness the power of water with a good old-fashioned bath, plus essential oils. Showers are great for kickstarting your day, but a relaxing bath at night time can help you sleep.

Don’t forget to please your brain too- with an interesting hobby that is non work related.

Non-physical stress busting

Music: Sometimes you are almost too stressed to consider doing anything physical. This is where I find music can help. Not loud rock stuff- though that is good for getting anger out- but calming, gentle music, literally forcing your brain to slow down.

Music is very smart- it matches or interrupts brain patterns. I’m not talking about background music- that can help motivate you through household chores, or block out other noise. I’m suggesting that when everything seems overwhelming that you take yourself off to a darkened space, put some soothing music on and close your eyes to listen. Just ten minutes of this will slow your heart rate and give you a breathing space. This is especially good when you feel too tense to relax even though you know you are exhausted and ought to sleep.

Stress busting should suit you

These are a few of the things I have found have helped me but we are all different.  Try anything and everything at least once.  If you find you like it and notice a benefit then keep it up, if not then no-one is forcing you to do it (e.g. I did not get on with acupuncture at all!) so give it up and move on to something else. 

You owe it to your overall wellbeing to find ways that work to help you relax. Stress is not some imaginary concept, it is real and it threatens your health. Think of it as part of your routine, like brushing your teeth. If you do some form of relaxation regularly it maintains your health and reduces your chances of stress related illness. I’d love to hear your favourite stress busting techniques- leave a comment below and feel free to share your suggestions.