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4 Things You Must Bear in Mind to Make the Most Productive Day

4 Things You Must Bear in Mind to Make the Most Productive Day

Are you ready to unlock your productivity potential? As we enter the final quarter of 2015, it’s time to look back on the year. Have you accomplished at least 75% of the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year? If you haven’t, don’t worry; here are some tips on how to make your day the most productive.

1.You are in control

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that you are in control of your life.

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler.

Mr. Altshuler was right. Time flies, and sometimes it flies so fast without you realizing it. What you need to remember is that everything in your life is dictated by the choices you make. So, begin each day by reminding yourself that you are in control and you decide what happens today.

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Only you can decide whether or not it is going to be a productive day.

2. Optimism is the key

Start your day with a positive mind. Not all tasks that you have listed are easy. This may include talking to your boss about a raise, tackling a complicated project — or even just going to the gym. You may start thinking that your boss will say ‘No’ or about all the obstacles you are going to face on the project. You might think going to the gym is too tiring and better not do it.

Abraham Lincoln said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

We just have to look at things differently. Perhaps your boss will consider that you have made valuable contributions to the team and agree that your request for a raise is justified. Look at a complicated project as a challenge that will help you learn something. Think of the benefits going to gym will give you. (If nothing else, think of a special treat you can indulge in once you have done your gym session.) Learn to be optimistic and good things will follow. On the other hand, if things didn’t go as expected, then always remember: When one door closes, another will open. The lost opportunity may not be for you but you are up for something much better.

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It is all about having the proper mindset. Be positive.

3. Procrastinate no more

As human beings, we think that we have all the time in the world to do the things we want and need to do. This is the reason we love procrastinating. We are always thinking that we have tomorrow to spare and we can just push to do things to another day. But what if you don’t have tomorrow?

Remember this Bill Keane quote, masterfully used by Master Oogway (the wise tortoise in Kung Fu Panda): “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.”

Today is something to be thankful for, so better spend it wisely. You’ll never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Do the things that you have set today right at this moment.

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Say “No” to procrastination and always say “Yes” to today.

4. Ignore the perfectionist in you

“Prolific beats Perfect.” – Daniel Priestley

I know that we tend to be our harshest critics and often times will keep fiddling with a project even when it’s good enough. While I am not advocating pushing out halfhearted work, I believe sometimes you have to accept good enough and move on. Spending too much time obsessing over tiny details means that you are putting in an additional amount of time to tweak something only 1% of people will notice. It also means you will get bogged down in the minute details and before you know it, the day is over.

Stop obsessing and start completing. Don’t let the inner perfectionist monster get the better of you. Work that is completed and pushed out on time is better than work that is perfect, but late.

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If you bear these 4 things in mind every single day, you will find yourself able to look forward to each day with a better attitude to getting things done. This will, in turn, lead you to getting closer and closer to your goals.

Say goodbye to the slums of yesterday…and hello to the most productive days of your life.

Featured photo credit: PicJumbo Designer Wooden Workspace via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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