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5 Ways Midday Naps Can Improve Work Performance

5 Ways Midday Naps Can Improve Work Performance

If you’ve never been affected by the two o’clock slump, consider yourself lucky. Most of us hit the wall at work sometime between our lunch break and the five o’clock whistle. While we’re always tempted to reach for that second (third? fourth?) cup of coffee when we start to feel burnt out, deep down we know it’s just a superficial fix that will come back to haunt us later on. What would help our performance; however, is if our bosses were to let us roll out a sleeping bag and take a quick snooze. A midday nap has many benefits, including these five listed below.

1. Recuperated lost sleep

Duh? Obviously taking a nap will help you get back some of the sleep you’ve lost over the week. Let’s think about that for a moment. If you’re supposed to sleep seven hours a night, but you habitually only get six, throughout a single week you lose a full night’s sleep. A lot of that lost sleep is probably due to getting to the office early, or being up late fulfilling other responsibilities because you were late coming home. A quick nap in the middle of each day could make up for lost time, energizing you enough to power through the rest of the day.

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2. Improved memory

Sleeping does wonders for your memory. An hour of sleep will help new information that is being temporarily stored in your short-term memory to transfer into your long-term memory storage. The benefits of this are two-fold. For one, information that has been taken in throughout the morning will almost effortlessly become part of your total recall. Secondly, since the information gathered throughout the day will be transferred into your long-term memory, your short-term memory capacity will be free to take in new data after you awaken.

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3. Stimulated cell repair

Working long hours isn’t just exhausting to the mind, it also can be extremely debilitating to the body as well. Sleeping produces a protein that repairs damage caused by stress and other toxins accumulated throughout the day. When a body is stressed and sore, the mind can’t perform. Allowing the body the opportunity to recharge during the day will lower overall stress levels, and result in an increase in productivity throughout the remainder of the day.

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4. Perseverance

When you’re stressed out, you’re more likely to give up when the going gets tough. Since a midday nap will rejuvenate your stress and energy levels, you’ll be more apt to stick with a task even when you hit a roadblock. Not only will being well-rested make you more likely to push yourself through a struggle point, but taking a nap can also be a nice break when you hit a point when productivity is absolutely impossible. When you awaken, you’ll be able to come back to the problem with a fresh mind. Walking away from a problem for a while is also a great way to gain insight and perspective. This may lead to a breakthrough the next time you sit down to tackle a problem.

5. Improved overall performance

Based on the length of your midday nap, you will experience varying levels of increased performance. A quick 10-20 minute nap leads to increased mental and physical performance. This can be done even if your boss doesn’t approve of naps at work (but we at Lifehack don’t condone this!). An hour-long nap will lead to the aforementioned short-term to long-term memory shift, while a 90 minute nap increases your emotional and procedural memory. If you’re in a position that requires you to be creative, napping for an hour and a half in the middle of the day will ultimately benefit your work in the long run. There’s one more thing to note: Avoid napping for 30-40 minutes. Doing so will lead to sleep inertia, and actually leave your mind more groggy and distorted than it was before you hit the hay.

Featured photo credit: Flickrr via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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