Advertising
Advertising

You Might Have Missed This Simple Way To Increase Your Work Performance

You Might Have Missed This Simple Way To Increase Your Work Performance

When it comes to productivity and time management, you’ve no doubt seen (and maybe) used some of the countless apps and tech tricks that are designed specifically to help with these life skills. Many people put all their faith in these external tools and techniques because the apps and tips are easily found on the internet. Some people seem addicted to trying out the latest ones.

If you’re a regular reader of Lifehack, you’ll know that we have plenty of articles that feature these apps and tech tricks. All these techniques are useful, but if you’re not careful, you may forget one of the basics of productivity – your personal energy levels.

On this point, I want to introduce to you the 3 Tiers of Productivity.[1] These can be explained as a pyramid, with the base (and biggest part) made up of fundamentals, the middle part of psychology, and the apex (and also the smallest part) consisting of details.

    The fundamentals part is the least sexy, and therefore, typically attracts the least interest. However, it’s actually the most important part. Fundamentals refers to adequate sleep, a healthy diet, a clean environment, and knowing exactly what you’re going to do. In other words – how you manage your personal energy. If you’re not as productive as you’d like to be, then you may be lacking personal energy.

    Why Your Energy Levels Are Low, and Why This Matters

    If you’re like most people, you probably respond to rising demands in the workplace by putting in longer hours. However, this takes a toll on your physical, emotional and mental health. This inevitably leads to declining levels of engagement, increasing levels of distraction – and a significant dip in your productivity.

    Advertising

    As I mentioned in the introduction, once our productivity takes a hit, we gravitate towards “magical” tools and tricks to help us keep on track. But there’s a problem with this. Namely, that most of these tools and tricks focus almost exclusively on psychology and details. They fail to address the fundamentals, thus leaving us with an artificial, and oftentimes unsustainable boost in productivity.

    If you want to be a productivity superstar, then you need to get the fundamentals right. Luckily, there is a little-known method that can help you out with this.

    How Natural Cycles Help You Perform Better

    Most people aren’t aware that their personal energy is determined by natural cycles known as ultradian rhythms. These are recurrent periods or cycles that are repeated throughout a 24-hour day.

    When you work with instead of against the ultradian rhythms, you will perform better. When your energy levels are high, you can concentrate on the tasks at hand; when your energy levels hit rock bottom, this is the best time to rest.

    Psychophysiologist Peretz Lavie conducted a series of experiments that revealed the following:

    1. In the morning time, we get sleepy every 90 minutes.
    2. In the afternoon and evenings, we get sleepy at two specific times: 4:30pm and 11:30pm.

    Advertising

      These daily cycles reveal when we’re most likely to feel at our best – and when we’re most likely to feel too groggy to continue.

      Align with Your Natural Cycles and Boost Your Performance

      You must get the fundamentals of personal energy right if you’re to reach the heights of the super-productive.

      It all starts with getting adequate and regular sleep (at least eight hours per night). Good sleep allows you to rest and rejuvenate. It gives you the energy to get on with doing what you want to do. In turn, this leads to a significant boost in your performance. You’ll also find yourself easily surpassing the energy and productivity levels of people who don’t sleep well.

      A Federal Aviation Administration study of pilots on long haul flights shows the vital importance of resting when your energy levels are low:[2]

      “One group of pilots was given an opportunity to take 40-minute naps mid-flight, and ended up getting an average of 26 minutes of actual sleep. Their median reaction time improved by 16% following their naps. Non-napping pilots, tested at a similar halfway point in the flight, had a 34% deterioration in reaction time. They also experienced 22 micro sleeps of 2-10 seconds during the last 30 minutes of the flight. The pilots who took naps had none.”

      You may not be aware of this, but sleep can also help you solve problems. For instance, it’s not uncommon to wake up with the answer to a problem that you’d earlier been unable to resolve. Find out more about this in another article Why Sleeping on a Difficult Problem Helps You Get the Answer

      Advertising

      Clearly, if you can learn to follow your natural daily cycles, you’ll be able to do your best work when you have the most energy, and you’ll also know the most suitable time to take naps, rest and sleep.

      How to Take Care of Your Energy

      Want to get started with boosting your energy and productivity levels? Here’s my recommendations.

      Identify your energy cycle

      The first key thing to do, is to calculate your biological prime times. You can do this by:

      1. Cutting out stimulants or mood enhancers such as caffeine, alcohol or antidepressants.
      2. Turn off your alarm, and allow yourself to sleep and wake up naturally.
      3. Record your energy levels every waking hour, on the hour.
      4. Collect a minimum of three weeks of data.

      By doing the above, you’ll be able to determine your peak activity times – and your best times to rest and sleep.[3]

      Schedule activities according to your energy levels

      It’s critical that you know the effort and energy needed to complete upcoming tasks. Having this information will allow you to set the priority and importance of the tasks.

      You can then easily schedule the important tasks (or tasks that require a high level of concentration) at times when your personal energy is at or near its peak. Examples of these tasks include creative work like writing, or problem solving work such as learning to file your tax returns.

      Advertising

      And of course the opposite is true. Tasks that need less thought-power or energy should be scheduled to take place during your low-energy periods.

      Break your work sessions into 90-minute blocks and take 15-minute breaks every 90 minutes

      When you break your work into 90-minute blocks, you’ll immediately experience a boost in your productivity. This is because 90 minutes is the ideal working duration before your mind and body needs to take a break. And how long should your break be? Well, it appears that 15-minute breaks are the ideal complement to the 90-minute sessions.

      By following the above routine, you’ll notice that you’ll have enhanced motivation to work because 90 minutes seems a manageable amount of time to work, especially when a 15-minute break is on the horizon.

      While the 15-minute break can be used to simply go for a walk, or make yourself a drink, you may want to consider taking a nap. Napping for just 15-20 minutes enables you to recharge your personal energy. (Be careful with longer naps, as these can disrupt your sleep cycle.) Read more about napping at work in another article A 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

      As you can see from the tips in this article, to manage your productivity levels, you need to get the foundations right first. This means getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, ensuring your environment is clean and orderly, and most importantly, learning how to align your work with your natural cycles.

      Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

      Reference

      More by this author

      Leon Ho

      Founder & CEO of Lifehack

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter 9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life 15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life

      Trending in Smartcut

      1 7 Simple Brain Training Habits to Boost Your Brain Power 2 Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change) 3 6 Important Interview Questions for Employers to Ask 4 15 Best Interview Questions to Ask Employees 5 25 Hard Work Quotes to Motivate You to Achieve More

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on January 13, 2020

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

      50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

      Let’s face it – no matter how excited you are about a new project or priority in your life, there will always be days when your motivation lags. Days when – despite all the progress you’ve made in the past – it just sounds easier to sit on the couch playing video games than to buckle down and crank out the work needed to meet your goals.

      In order to be successful, you must be able to motivate yourself past these humps. Whenever you feel your drive and determination lagging, turn to these motivational quotes for work to provide the extra spark of passion needed to keep you on track.

      Quotes about Goal Setting

      Whether you’re still in the planning phases of your business or whether you’re plotting a plan of attack to bring about your long-range vision, setting good goals is a critical part of succeeding in business.

      Check out these quotes for extra inspiration on how to turn your dreams into reality:

      quote-Benjamin-E.-Mays-the-tragedy-in-life-doesnt-lie-in-106113

        “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”– Benjamin Mays


        “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”–Mark Victor Hansen


        “Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”–William J. Bennett – The Book of Virtues


        “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”–Robert L. Schwartz

        Quotes about Achieving Excellence in Work

        Once you’ve got your goals together, you’ll need to put in 110% of your effort in order to transform these visions into reality. To increase your motivation to work at a consistently high level, take a look at the following words of wisdom:

        “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”–Aristotle


        “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”–Charles R. Swindoll

        Desire is the key to motivation

          “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”–Mario Andretti


          “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”–Pearl Buck


          “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”–Vince Lombardi

          Quotes about Determination and Persistence

          Since every business or other endeavor is bound to hit some rough patches, it’s often a person’s level of determination and patience that brings about either success or failure. These positive quotes give you an extra boost of encouragement:

          “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer


          “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”–Hal Borland


          “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”–Calvin Coolidge

          quote-Thomas-Fuller-an-invincible-determination-can-accomplish-almost-anything-92190

            “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”–Thomas Fuller

            Quotes about Leadership

            Whether you use it to engage your employees, to encourage teamwork or motivate others to follow your unique way of thinking, leadership is crucial. Take your leadership cues from these renowned leaders’ famous sayings:

            “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis


            “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”–John Kenneth Galbraith

            Leadership is not magnetic personality

              “Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”–Peter F. Drucker


              “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”–John Buchan


              “High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.”–George Orwell

              Quotes for Success

              Think of success as a holistic process – one which results from the combination of goal-setting, excellence, patience, determination and leadership you prioritize throughout your career. These highly successful people provide you with an excellent source of motivation:

              Advertising

              “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”–Stephen Covey


              “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

              Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

                “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill


                “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”–John Maxwell


                “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”– Thomas J. Watson


                “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination.  They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.”–Robert Collier


                “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”–Arnold Toynbee

                Sports Quotes for Athletes

                You don’t need to be a Michael Jordan-caliber athlete to draw inspiration from the following quotes. Even if you’re just a recreational player or someone who’s using sports as a means to get back in shape after long periods of inactivity, the following motivational sports quotes will encourage you:

                “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”–Michael Jordan


                “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”–Lance Armstrong

                Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.

                  “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger


                  “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.”–Florence Griffith Joyner


                  “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”–Unknown


                  “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!”–Emily Post


                  “We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

                  Quotes to Motivate Learning

                  Committing yourself to pursuing knowledge in a single area is a tremendous endeavor – one that often seems overwhelming given the depth and breadth of information that’s available today. Keep the following motivational quotes in mind if you’re learning:

                  “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”–George Washington Carver

                  quote-William-Arthur-Ward-if-you-can-imagine-it-you-can-36189

                    “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”–William Arthur Ward


                    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle


                    “Success is not the key to happiness.Happiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”–Albert Schweitzer


                    “Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.”–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


                    “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”–Chinese Proverb


                    “Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”–William Arthur Ward


                    “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.”–Helen Exley


                    “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”–Chinese Proverb

                    All-Time Favorite Positive Quotes

                    Finally, whatever your goals are in life, you can’t go wrong by taking the advice of the following famous motivational quotes:

                    “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”–Norman Vincent Peale


                    “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”–Steve Jobs


                    “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”–Maria Robinson


                    “Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”–Albert Einstein


                    “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”–Lyndon Johnson

                    If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                      “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”–Thomas Edison


                      “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky


                      “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill


                      “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

                      Final Thoughts

                      To use these motivational quotes effectively, find the one that speaks to you. Although all of the phrases listed above can be considered “motivational,” only you can decide which one resonates with you most directly.

                      Next, take the quote you’ve settled on and copy it onto small index cards or other pieces of paper that can be stored around your home and workspace.

                      If you’re creative, you can create inspiration boards, signs or other decorative displays featuring your favorite motivational quotes – really, though, the most important thing is that your chosen phrase be accessible in a variety of different places. This will make it easy to access and review whenever you feel your motivation slipping away.

                      More Inspiring Quotes

                      Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

                      Read Next