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Last Updated on November 8, 2017

Why You Should Do What Kit Kat Tells You

Why You Should Do What Kit Kat Tells You

When it comes to our careers and work in general, thriving and growing within our job means we need to be as productive as possible. Getting results means getting things done but when we’re in this mindset we usually end up sacrificing breaks in order to create more time.

While this can bring about results in the short term, over time it can lead to burnout and feeling mentally drained. Our productivity will eventually take a nosedive simply because we haven’t taken time out to switch off and take a breather.

Tiredness and fatigue is a result of our bodies not getting enough time to restore energy plus adding skipped meals into the mix means running on empty with no sufficient nutrients and energy to be the productive person you want to be. It’s a vicious cycle that many of us jump into.

Why Don’t We Take Enough Breaks?

It’s a catch 22 that we skip our breaks in order to be more productive yet the more we do this the less productive we actually become. So why do we do it?

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No time. Feeling like we have more work than time to complete it is common. Constant emails and meetings means when we step into the office in the morning time can fly into mid and late afternoon. Yet you feel you never get anything finished – there are even more emails and meetings piling up for the next day.

Afraid of what others think of you. Even if your boss isn’t that demanding, you don’t want to seem like you’re skiving at work by taking too many breaks. This is worse when you work in an open-plan office where people can see your every move. You can start to feel paranoid when you take your third 10 minute break of the day feeling that your colleagues or managers are judging you.

You don’t think breaks are necessary. Many people find breaks inconvenient and think sitting down and relaxing for 10 minutes is a waste of time. It can feel unenjoyable when you know you have so much work to be getting on with that many just don’t take that needed break.

You don’t know how to take a break. Many places of work encourage people to take breaks away from their desks but if this isn’t the case for you, sitting at your desk can lead to scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feeds. While this may feel like a break, it doesn’t relax your mind or really give your mind the mentally productive break it needs.

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What Actually Happens If We Don’t Take Those Needed Breaks?

Performance decreases. Research has shown that working on a task for long periods of time without a break creates a decrease in performance overall. While taking regular breaks increases performance on the task at hand.

Procrastination increases. Getting into the flow while working is a great feeling but this doesn’t last forever. As humans, we get bored and this usually leads to procrastination. Our brains aren’t designed to focus for long periods which is why taking a break is more beneficial and gets us back on track when boredom sets in. It’s all about “deactivating and reactivating”[1] our goals to stay focused.

Attention span is shortened. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. This can decrease even more if you continually never take breaks. In other words, we end up running on empty in terms of cognitive function which can be resolved by taking time out for our brain to reboot.

Fatigue and burnout. A burnout is usually the last thing to happen but it’s the collective routine of not pausing to take time out. Tiredness and fatigue is usually the precursors and indicates that our body is getting worn out. This can result in the task taking longer to complete or getting sick resulting in tasks not being completed at all.

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Take Breaks to Increase Your Productivity and Wellbeing

Track and limit the time you spend on tasks. Do you know how much time you actually spend on daily tasks? Research suggests[2] that only around 17 percent of people know the amount of time that goes by when they’re tackling a task. Be aware of how much time you spend so you can gauge a better understanding of a productive schedule and when to interject breaks.

Shift your mindset. Often our biggest hurdle is not accepting that breaks are for our benefit. Start to view taking breaks as a necessity rather than a hindrance.

Never skip meals. Scheduling lunchtime meetings or using your lunch hour as a way to keep up with mounting work is extremely detrimental to your productivity. Skipping meals or rushing them will only harm your health and long term productivity. Use this time to relax and think of things unrelated to work as this reboots the brain as you nourish it.

Throw away excuses. ‘I don’t have enough time’ may have crossed your mind numerous times but we have to bin the excuses. Help yourself by making a list of what you need to get done for the day to help declutter your mind but remember to include breaks in this list as they’re just as important. This will help speed up the process of getting things done.

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Consider exercise. Sitting down away from your work or taking a nap are great ways to rejuvenate. But research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine[3] has found that incorporating exercise into your work day may help improve productivity. Try joining a gym near your work, go for a lunchtime run or a simple walk to get your brain energised and ready to tackle work again.

Just Take That Break!

Try not to convince yourself that working for long stretches is the optimum productivity strategy. It’s clear from research that our brain isn’t designed to concentrate for long periods and needs time to switch off in order to work at its best.

One study found the secret to the optimum routine for productivity: working for 52 minutes and breaking for 17 minutes[4]. This created the best work flow for highest performance.

So ditch the excuses, don’t work through lunch, take time to eat and refuel, and even consider going for a workout. Whatever it is you do, make sure you carve out important time to reboot your brain and watch your productivity levels rise!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel.com via pexels.com

Reference

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Published on July 17, 2018

20 Tips to Get Your Bedtime Routine Started for a Better Tomorrow

20 Tips to Get Your Bedtime Routine Started for a Better Tomorrow

“Today is tomorrow’s yesterday,” the quote says and it rings true from North to South, from West to East. And if we want to have a productive and energetic today, we need to prepare it yesterday. If we learn from yesterday, we can live today and we’ll even have time to plan for tomorrow.

The best way to jumpstart your day isn’t the first thing you do in the morning – but the last thing you do the night before. And here is a list of 20 tips that you can use for your bedtime routine to start the next morning energetic and productive:

1. Create your bedtime routine

In the words of late Jim Rohn:

“Simple things are simple to do but they are also simple not to do.”

The first thing to start with is by actually creating a bedtime routine. By this, I don’t mean just being a victim of consequences like kids, late dinners or office tasks that need to be done.

By creating a bedtime routine, you consciously create a set of behaviors that you will do (or not do) before you fall asleep that night.

In the beginning, it only needs to be a single thing that you adhere to like no laptop in the bed or TV for only 30 minutes or hitting at sack at 11:30 pm max.

And you can use the following tips to optimize your bedtime routine.

2. Play music

Music has a variety of effects on our bodies. First of all, our bodies are 70% water and vibrations affect us physiologically. There was a research done by Dr. Masaru Emoto who studied the effects that music has on the structure of frozen water molecules.

By playing certain (soothing) music, you will feel relaxed and prepared for sleep. I personally use post-rock (piano) songs playlist which include songs like “Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions In The Sky, everything from Anthony Greninger and The XX.

Now, it’s all about finding the perfect music for you. You need to find your own rhythm, so try out a lot of different songs and categories and see what fits you the best.

3. Read a book

This one is a bit tricky – you should be reading a book before you sleep but not something which is hard to understand and needs a lot of straining from your conscious mind.

It’s best to read something lighter before bedtime because it will put your mind in a nice rhythm and will induce you into a qualitative sleep.

This doesn’t mean that you should read things like 50 Shades of Grey (no, please no), but don’t go reading “Gödel, Escher, Bach: and Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter either.

Pick something that interests you and is quite easy to read like “How To Win Friends & Influence People” or biographies like “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing.

4. Put on your pajamas

When you jump into your sleeping clothes, you signal your mind and body to shut down and go into “sleep mode.”

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Try to have a set of pajamas always prepared next to your bed and never go under the sheets with your house or work clothes.

5. Plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow

This is something Leo Babuta talked a lot. When you plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow, you immediately eliminate unnecessary decisions from tomorrow’s day.

When you remove decision making from the day, all that’s left is to just do that activity.

This is backed by research about ego depletion, where making decisions throughout the day depletes our willpower, making us less likely to do the activities.

But if you prepare them in advance (decide and write down that you’ll do it), you will be more likely to do them.

So plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow and sleep like a baby, knowing what you will do tomorrow.

6. Write a journal

“Dear diary….” or you can start any other way. But this isn’t a six-grade school girl writing who she has a crush on. This is about reflecting on what happened to you today, how that activity made you feel and your general impression of the day.

Here’s a how-to guide on how to start writing a journal:

Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

7. Prepare clothes for tomorrow

We talked about ego depletion when planning the next day. It’s the thing with the clothes you will wear tomorrow.

When you prepare things for the next morning, your mind won’t go into “freak” mode, trying to remember everything you need to do in the morning like finding clothes for work, making breakfast, finishing that presentation, checking the valve pressure, changing the car oil, saving the world…

When you prepare for the morning in advance, you sleep better because you don’t have those menial tasks like clothes hovering around your head.

8. Turn off your WiFi

The word of the 21st century is connectedness and it’s great – we are more connected than ever. But this doesn’t mean that you need to be connected 24/7.

During the night, you should definitely turn off your WiFi and be unavailable. This makes your brain rest and doesn’t put you in that always-available-state, where you’re always prepared for that email or message.

Just leave it for the morning – 99% of things can wait. And if it’s that 1% that can’t wait, trust me, they will find a way to contact you.

9. Watch entertainment

Throughout the day, you should be working, learning and pushing yourself. But when the night comes, you need to reward yourself for the activities and accomplishments of the day – because you deserve it.

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So take 30-45 minutes and simply watch entertainment without feeling guilty – you can even watch a good movie. I have my entertainment nights on Friday where I watch gaming tournaments on YouTube – just a big fan of League of Legends.

10. Do mindfulness exercise like meditation

Mindfulness doesn’t have to be meditation, but meditation is almost always mindfulness.

Mindfulness trains your mind to become present and aware of the things and people that surround you. This makes you forget about the worries of the future and the regrets of the past and makes you live in the present.

Mindfulness as a bedtime routine helps you clear out your mind and makes you fall asleep easily, without those pesky regrets and worries sneaking up on you when you finally hit the sack.

Find out more about how Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness.

11. Evaluate your today

You planned out the 3 most important tasks that you need to do today. Now, it’s time to evaluate those tasks.

This is the time for self reflection, and Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

So sit down and evaluate if you managed to accomplish the 3 tasks that you set up the night before.

12. Write down 3 things that happened today (not gratefulness)

This is a really good exercise because it’s not woo-woo like gratefulness or unstructured as a diary.

This is about making a history book out of your life- something your grandkids might read upon and see how your life looked like.

Writing down 3 things that happened today makes you simply record 3 events that happened on the day, with or without your judgment about them (good or bad, positive or negative).

After 3-6 months, you can read upon these and summarize them to create a timeline of your life and after a year, summarize it again.

This will create a timeline of your life, with all major events that happened written down. It will also make you more self-aware about the things happening every single day.

13. Drink water

Quality of sleep depends a lot on the hydration of our bodies. If you feel the thirst, it means you are already dehydrated.

The sacred rule I adhere to for a quality bedtime routine is one glass of water before bed and one glass of water as soon as I wake up.

Take a look at this article to find out How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You).

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14. Cool off the room

Setting the right conditions for sleep are optimal for a quality-like sleep and productive and energetic day.

You need to sleep in a colder, dark and silent room. The quality of mattress and pillow also contribute to good sleep and even better mornings.

You might want to consider investing in a sleeping mask, good mattress and an even better pillow – it makes a big difference.

Here’s a guide on how to choose a good mattress:

Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

15. Don’t eat heavy food

Eating that late night dinner at 10:30 pm and then going back home trying to fall asleep is like getting drunk and trying to walk the line – you think you can do it until you actually try it.

A big dinner and heavy food before bedtime keeps your stomach working 24/7 and prevents it from having any rest during the night. This affects the quality of sleep and makes you feel groggy before you fall asleep and extends to when you wake up.

Remove heavy food from your night meals and look at how your energy spikes in the morning – I did it six months ago and I am never going back to it.

Check out more food options to help you sleep here:

12 Bedtime Snacks/Drinks That Can Help You Sleep Better

16. Avoid exercise before sleep

You shouldn’t exercise 3 hours before bedtime – it wakes up your entire body and prepares you for a physical activity.

Exercise is for morning or tops afternoon – the night is for relaxing bedtime routine activities.

However, you can try to stretch your body to help relax your nerves before going to sleep:

6 Yoga Poses You Can Do In Bed Before Sleeping For Better Health

17. Go to bed at the same time

Training your body and mind to shut down at the same time is beneficiary because it learns when you don’t need energy and when you do. This makes your energy usage more effective because you are 100% active when you need it and 0% active when you don’t need it.

Most people work on a 50-60% active energy, always being active but never being on their top game. If you train your body and mind to shut down after, let’s say, 11:00 pm, then it will reward you with energy spikes in the morning and afternoon.

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And the easiest way to accomplish this is by going to bed at the same time.

18. Optimize sleep cycles

Tips 17. and 18. are closely connected.

Sleep cycles consist of 1.5-hour rotations, where you finish one round of sleeping after 1.5 hours of sleeping and start over again. The best time to wake up is when a sleep cycle ends and just before the next starts.

So to optimize your sleep cycles, you should wake up after 5 or 6 sleep cycles, respectively after 7.5 or 9 hours of sleep. This is when you will feel the most energetic.

Hitting your sleep cycles at the beginning is quite hard but when you always fall asleep at the same time, your body will adjust to it and will make you hit them.

For more tips, here’s How to Hack Your Sleep Cycle and Get Better Sleep.

19. Work on your passion project

Nothing brings more satisfaction to a person than seeing a dream, a vision which only lived inside of a person mind come to life. And working on a passion project is exactly that – you are making a reality out of your vision or a dream.

You can allocate 20-30 minutes a night to work on your passion project. This will make the feeling of accomplishment even stronger and will affect the quality of your sleep by a handful.

If you think you’re too busy to do what you’re passionate about, here’re 7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion.

20. Spend time with loved ones

The biggest factor that contributes to a happy and fulfilled life are relationships – with friends, family and loved ones.

At the end of a long, arduous day, you should spend time with your loved ones- the people with whom you can share your happy but also your sad moments.

A path to many starts with one

Not all of these 20 tips will make sense to you and they shouldn’t. You should pick out one and start with that and then, add up another one.

Test what works for you and what makes sense and you will soon see the difference in your energy and productivity.

Just remember – the path to many starts with only a single one. Start with one and create a bedtime routine for a better tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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