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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.

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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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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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