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You Only Need 20 Minutes For An Insanely Productive Day (With This Morning Ritual)

You Only Need 20 Minutes For An Insanely Productive Day (With This Morning Ritual)

Picture this: you start the day on the wrong foot. Say the alarm didn’t buzz. So, you take a hurried shower and have burnt toast for breakfast, the kids decide to disappear at the instant your car refuses to start, and basically everything goes south from there. It’s like Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will. The result: your plans to have a productive day go flying out of the window. The solution? A 20-minute morning routine that lets you have an insanely productive day!

The Harvard-trained happiness researcher and New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor recommends a morning ritual that will increase your positivity levels and give you a happiness advantage.

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What is the Happiness Advantage?

When you raise your positivity level, your brain feels happier. A happier brain, drunk on positivity, is better equipped to handle stress as well as everyday situations. This is true simply because the brain becomes more intelligent with a dose of positivity. A happier brain also makes your body’s energy levels rise and makes you move about more proactively. A brain fed on positivity makes your day far more productive, according to Achor. Your productivity can go up by about 31%. So, let’s talk about that 20-minute morning routine that will promote an insanely productive day.

1. 2 Minutes to Relive the Most Positive Moment of the Past Day

The brain can be tricked – it does not realize the difference between experiencing a high and visualizing one. So, take two minutes to write down the happiest moment of your past 24 hours and to relive all its great moments. This will make your brain feel more positive. A more positive brain, as we have just seen, basically makes you far more productive in everything during the day, be it work, chores, or hobbies.

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2. 2 Minutes to Send a Positive E-Mail

Sending someone a positive email full of nice things will make two things happen. One is that it will make you feel pumped because you’ve done a good deed. The other is that it will make you stronger in interpersonal relationships. And being popular will certainly make you and your brain happier, thereby making your brain and you far more productive than normal.

3. 2 Minutes to Express Gratitude

Jot down three new things that you are thankful for on an everyday basis for at least 21 consecutive days. This will train your brain to become more optimistic and to look for positivity everywhere instead of negativity. Thinking of all that you have makes you feel good about your life. Instead of seeing the glass as half empty, this way you can train your brain to see it as half full. An optimistic view of the world is an infinitely happier one. And happiness, as we have seen, puts you on the path towards more productivity!

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4. 10-15 Minutes to Exercise

Exercise affects the brain in two ways. Vigorous exercise, even if it’s for just 10 minutes, floods your brain with endorphins, aka the “happy hormones” that reduce stress and make your thinking tank function optimally. Secondly, by taking a little time to exercise and do something for yourself, you train your brain to think that you matter. The positivity carries through the day and through everything you do. Completing an exercise routine is one way to train the brain to get through something with perseverance, and so it makes your brain more productive too.

5. 2 Minutes to Meditate

Finally, even if it’s just for two minutes, sit and internalize your thoughts, meditating on nothing but your breath going in and out. This improves the focusing mechanism of the brain and makes it more accurate, as well as increasing positivity and lowering stress levels. Sharper concentration means you let your brain focus on the job at hand, and this makes it more productive.

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This routine can be done in 20 minutes a day, or it can be stretched a little more on days you have time. It will make you and your brain more positive, and definitely more productive too.

Featured photo credit: Pixels via pexels.com

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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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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