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7 Biohacks to Make You A Productivity Machine

7 Biohacks to Make You A Productivity Machine

Have you had a freshly brewed cup of coffee this morning? If yes, then you just hacked your biology to supercharge your performance. Coffee, i.e. caffeine, is by far the easiest biohack that most people have been doing for centuries. There’s many other easy biohacks not enough people do, which can massively increase your productivity levels, starting today!

These tweaks are small enough for you to implement right away. Anyone can do them and I split each biohack into a technique for beginners (the more hesitant biohackers) and the advanced (experienced biohackers).

If your lifestyle is too complex to give all of these a try, don’t worry. Even just one of the tweaks on its own can instantly increase your productivity and performance:

1. Upgrade Your Sleep

Getting enough sleep is by far the most important investment you can make. As action-taking high performers we tend to sleep less to create more time in our day, but of what quality? Accumulating sleep debt reduces our cognitive abilities, concentration and productivity.

Fortunately there are a couple of biohacks that can help you get those precious 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep night after night.

Beginners can do:
Take a magnesium supplement right before going to sleep. This essential mineral boosts recovery, helps relax the body and ensures you sleep like a baby.

The obvious: wear a sleeping mask and earbuds. In terms of evolution, our eyes and ears haven’t had enough time to adapt to the ever louder noise and light pollution we live with today. So a light and noise blocker is the easiest hack to avoid waking up frequently or waking up tired.

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Advanced:
Make your bedroom a no-screen zone. Screens from our devices emit blue artificial light which can disrupt melatonin production and make it harder to fall asleep. Whilst your best bet is to stop using devices an hour or two before bed, you can also minimise the negative effects of blue light by wearing blue-light blocking glasses. Many established brands are now producing these, such as Swannies.

2. Start Your Morning On A Fresh Note

Now that we’ve upgraded your sleep, it’s time to build on that momentum by improving your morning routine too.

If this technique sounds crazy to you, consider that it is a natural way to keep the immune system in check, it helps regulate body temperature and blood glucose levels. Finally, it helps you truly wake up and get charged up for being productive.

The technique I’m talking about? It’s cold thermogenesis, by taking cold showers.

Beginners should start at:
Warm-to-cold showers. Alternating from very warm to very cold for the last few minutes of your shower.

Advanced:
Cold showers. Gradually reduce water temperature until it takes your breath away, then stay under it for a few minutes.

You can expect to feel your energy levels spike as you go on to have a productive day.

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3. Reimagine Your To-Do List

Know that feeling of overwhelm when you think of how many things you’ve got to do? This is when your productivity crashes, especially if you’re not prioritising your to-do’s. You should always be prioritising. Based on the Pareto efficiency, just 20% of the actions you take produce 80% of your results. So it’s important that you invest quality time into those 20% and allow to come up on your to do list organically.

You’ll need to be strict with yourself to really adopt this habit of focusing on fewer things to do. However, to your advantage, the brain is an ever changing canvas of processes. So don’t hesitate to start rewiring bad habits.

Beginners should start with:
Instead of the typical bullet point list, do a simple Pareto efficiency division every morning to outline what must be done vs what could be done. You should do this for at least 66 days in order to instil the habit, according to research from the UCL on habit formation.

Advanced:
Identify just ONE thing you need to do today that will get you closer to realising your goals. Not only will being so super-focussed make you more efficient, but you’ll also build up momentum by completing an important task every day, thus actually reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself. As with the beginners above, practice focussing on one thing first for at least 66 days to instil the habit.

4. Boost Your Focus with Nootropics

Nootropics, also better known as ‘smart drugs’, are supplements that enhance neurotransmitter processes in the brain. In essence they can boost your ability to focus which also impacts productivity.

Sounds risky? It needn’t be. You see, even your usual cup of coffee can be considered a nootropic.

Recommended for beginners:
Coffee. If you want an extra boost to your mental performance, add a teaspoon of coconut oil, MCT oil, or grass fed butter to your cup of coffee. These fats are broken down by your liver into ketones, the particles your brain loves, giving you an extra boost of energy.

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Advanced:
Many brands offer pill-based nootropic supplements. Some of the better known are: Alpha Brain, Ciltep, Aniracetam, Piracetam etc. All of these should be taken cautiously according to the instructions on the back of the bottle.

5. Upgrade Your Body Mechanics

We feel tired if we’re slumped in our office chair all day. Not only does bad posture cause us pain but it also makes us unable to breathe deep and thus supply the brain with enough oxygen to be productive. The key to overcoming bad posture is to hack the big chunk of your day that you spend sitting in the office – your office hours. We need to eliminate the constant sitting and move more.

Beginners should:
Set an alarm or reminder every 45 minutes to stand up and walk or stretch for 5-10 minutes.

Advanced:
Invest in a standing desk. Note that standing all day isn’t beneficial either. The key to better mobility and performance is to switch positions regularly: from standing to sitting, to walking and so forth.

6. Use Technology to Help Productivity

As noted before your mind is built on dynamic processes and your cells are refurbishing even while you sleep. You virtually wake up a new person every morning. This means you have all the power in the world to make yourself more productive. To harness that power, you need to constantly condition yourself in a variety of ways which will help you to maintain your ability to focus, achieve more and produce better results.

Fortunately technology can come in handy when you need some help with that conditioning. The following tech-biohacks are famous among productivity thought leaders.

Beginners should start with:
Use the Pomodoro timer technique to condition your mind into a routine of focussed work followed by a short rest. It doesn’t take many of Pomodoro sessions to find yourself delivering outstanding results in the same amount of time you had before but which you couldn’t use as efficiently.

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Advanced:
Listen to binaural beats. Via two different pure-tone sine waves, these beats are designed to trigger certain responses in your brain: from relaxing to working.

7. Unlock the Flow

Once you have all those biohacks listed above ready, you will experience an advanced state of focus and productivity. The last missing piece of the puzzle is achieving flow – the state where you lose a sense of time and experience pure joy in doing what you do best.

To access flow, you will need to condition your mind using similar approaches as above: you’ll need to set the right environment and avoid interruptions.

Beginners should start on:
Setting up your environment to work: no visual distractions in your sight and no phones that will buzz when you need to finish something important. Most importantly, you should concentrate on one task at a time.

Advanced:
The more time you spend in the state of flow the better able you will be to come back into that state whenever you’re working. To allow for an easy transition from distracted to super-focussed, you need to clear your mind. This is where meditation can help, independent or guided through apps such as Calm and Headspace.

Which of these are you implementing today?

Featured photo credit: Bethany Legg via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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