Many ambitious entrepreneurs tend to yearn for just a few extra hours every day, to be able to do more work, see more people, arrange more meetings, and be overall more productive. But the notion of productivity has been going through a sort of a makeover. There were several different studies in Sweden that monitored what happened when a company or an institution introduced the six-hour workday, and the results were staggering. Less pressure, more energy, better productivity, better work-life balance – does that mean that we can finally let go of wishing for more time, and focus on using what we have more efficiently?
While we’re waiting for scientists to find a way to tamper with time and let us have longer days, there are many strategies that can help make your days more productive and put your time to better use while you’re at work.
Don’t skip your lunch break
Whenever you feel guilty for taking a few minutes to take your mind off work, remember that these little time slots of doing nothing mean everything for keeping your brain sharp during work. In fact, active procrastination may be a perfect way to get rid of everything else on your agenda for the day, so that you can focus on that one dreaded task you’ve been putting off constantly.
On a different note, taking regular breaks means that you actually put in some effort to schedule them in the first place, and treat them as mandatory as you would your staff meeting. Perhaps the two-hour siesta in Spain is a stretch for the western world, but Sweden once again shows us how it’s done – a new tradition called “al desko” where employees dance, eat their lunch and are forbidden to talk about work is sweeping across the country, and it will hopefully sprout elsewhere, too.
Eliminate digital distractions
What has initially started as a way to boost our creativity and simplify our lives has turned into a global obsession that stifles our attention span and our productivity. If you are also surrounded by screens, laptops, TVs, tablets, phones, and the like, consider how much of your time is wasted on mindless scrolling down your Facebook feed, or checking for emails when you already have a presentation to prepare.
Limit your internet consumption by setting timers, and of course, keep all your private and personal notifications off during work hours. Turning off the devices that cause the most distraction is the best way to go, but also prevent yourself from using them by limiting your screen time during the day. Ironically, there are apps to help you with this particular issue.
Music to boost your creativity
Noise from your neighboring restaurant or a crowded schoolyard will definitely destroy your ability to focus on your work, but when it comes to pleasing noises, such as classical music or lyric-less tunes, and sounds of nature, your brain could use the boost they have to offer!
When you have the right playlist for a particular task you’re tackling, there isn’t much that can wreck the concentration you’ve built up, and it will serve you as another great method to defeat other distractions. This is particularly handy in urban environments, so using headphones in Sydney and similar metropolises has become a modern norm to fend off other annoyances and stay immersed in your work. Simultaneously, they let you escape the hectic environment and create a more soothing mood for your mind to give its absolute best.
Create the right environment
Just like few people can fall asleep at a heavy metal concert (although there have been exceptions), even fewer can work happily in a dim, stuffy office with little space to stretch your legs, let alone your creative thoughts. Even as little as working at a spacious desk with daylight as your main lamp can make a tremendous difference to put you in the “zone” to work.
Add to that some fresh air, an ergonomic chair straight from the UK, a touch of nature with some greenery, and a few selected photo frames with your loved ones to inspire you on the toughest of tasks, and you’re good to go.
Make time for exercise
One healthy habit can breed a multitude of equally beneficial behaviors in your life, so if there’s a single place you can start to improve your overall wellbeing and be better at what you do, make it the dojo, or your local gym, whatever floats your boat. Need more incentive? Studies have shown that when they exercised, participants felt a 41% increase in motivation to work, and their productivity rose by 21% as well.
In time, it will become more natural to include other healthy habits, such as regular, quality sleep, taking those short breaks and power naps, as well as choosing a home-made sandwich or a salad over a burger from your next-door fast food joint. All of these little changes will allow your mind to function more optimally, and lead to a steady improvement in your work performance over time.