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5 Ways Midday Naps Can Improve Work Performance

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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.

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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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More by this author

Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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