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Published on June 13, 2018

13 Brain Booster Tips to Make You More Productive During the Workweek

13 Brain Booster Tips to Make You More Productive During the Workweek

Some days it feels like it’s you against the world, doesn’t it? You know the kind of day I’m talking about…

You wake up and hit snooze one time too many. You’re out of coffee. You can’t find your keys. You leave the house 10 minutes later than you needed to and then end up behind the slowest driver ever on a one lane road.

While we can’t be 100% on top of our game all day every day, there are several things we can do to set ourselves up to be productive during the workweek – at least most of the time.

Let’s begin with these brain-booster tips and you’ll be off to a great start.

1. Eat breakfast

This may seem like an overused tip, but it’s undeniably true. You don’t have to sit down to a three-course meal but you do need to nourish your body and your brain. Your brain simply doesn’t work when it doesn’t have energy.

Food is energy. If you can’t stomach a big breakfast first thing in the morning, a piece of toast with peanut butter and some fruit will do.

If you have a long commute, bring along a snack for the ride. That way, you’ll be ready to go when you arrive at the office. Or if you work from home, be sure to get your breakfast ready before you start working, so it doesn’t interrupt your flow.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to eat. Your brain will thank you and so will your boss. If you skip that morning meal, your stomach will likely remind you with an embarrassing grumble during an important meeting anyway.

Keep your brain happy (and stress-free) by filling your belly before you get to work.

2. Eat the right foods for your brain

Foods such as walnuts, almonds, avocados, blueberries, kale and peppermint tea have all been known to have a positive effect on your brain.

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Avocados are good for protecting your brain cells, while blueberries are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. So, if you’re going to snack, be sure to stock up your fridge, pantry and desk drawer with some of these super foods.

More super food ideas for you here: 20 Foods To Snack On For Enhanced Productivity

3. Stretch and/or exercise

Stretching does more than just warm up your muscles. It also gets your blood flowing, which is good for your brain. If your body is stiff or achy, it can distract you from getting even the simplest things done.

While stretching is great for your muscles and your brain, even the simplest of exercises can help your brain work even more efficiently.

According to a recent study from the International Journal of Workplace Health Management,[1]

“People who exercised during their workday were 23 percent more productive on those days than they were when they didn’t exercise.”

Get moving even if it’s just a walk around the block or up and down the stairs at lunch. Your body and your brain will benefit. Here are some easy stretches and exercises you can do in even the smallest of spaces:

  • Toe touches – Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Bend forward and touch your right hand to your left toe. Stand back up again and bend forward, touching your left hand your right toe. Repeat ten times on each side. You’ll start to warm up and feel the blood flowing throughout your body.
  • Squats – Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees but not your torso, until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor. Repeat 10 times or more if you feel like it. Your lower body will feel the stretch, and your heart will start to beat a bit faster.
  • Quadriceps stretches – Stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your right leg back and grab your right foot with your right hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat with your left side. The back of your thighs will feel a good stretch and you’ll also engage your core muscles for balance, so you’ll feel a stretch in your abdomen as well.
  • Shoulder chair stretches – Take your right shoulder and hook it around the back of your chair. Take your left arm and reach over your chest. Lock your left hand in your right hand and reach towards the right side of your body. This is a great stretch for those stuck sitting at a computer all day.

These are just a few examples of exercises that can easily be done in a small office or cubicle.

4. Hold off on checking your email

Emails have a way of creeping into our productivity and holding us back from getting more stuff done. We often feel obligated to answer every email we receive as soon as we get it, which allows our day to control us.

Instead of letting others dictate your workflow, set aside certain times during the day to check email and respond to them.

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You’ve seen the mugs, water bottles and t-shirts that say, “But first, coffee.” When it comes to starting your day out right, it’s best not to skip the things that get you motivated or inspired to work.

Do you absolutely need coffee to do your job? Of course not. But if you enjoy it, it’s worth making time for it before you jump into your emails or jump into your project management tool.

Instead of opening your email as soon as you get to your desk, try doing a few alternative things to get yourself in the right frame of mind to be productive. For example, you could:

  • Listen to your favorite song.
  • Find a daily quote website and check that each day.
  • Take three sips of coffee and a bite of your toast.
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Finish a task from the day before that you didn’t quite finish.

Any of these activities should make you feel a little more confident before you jump into whatever the day has in store for you.

Let customers, clients and others know what to expect when they email you so they won’t be disappointed when you don’t respond right away.

You’ll get more done and you won’t get overwhelmed with tasks that shouldn’t be a priority anyway.

5. Organize your work area

Some people are more concerned with tidiness than others. Messy people will often tell you that they know exactly where everything is within their mess. But clutter looks bad to your coworkers (and your boss) and also tends to make you less productive.

By keeping things well-organized, it will be easier to move from one task to another and your productivity levels will increase.

The stress (and wasted time) of trying to find misplaced paperwork on a messy desk or among unorganized files can take a toll on your energy levels.

6. Write things down

Not everyone is a list-maker. Some people prefer to use a calendar or to write down tasks on single sheets of paper so they can throw them away once the task is complete. Whatever works for you is fine.

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The important thing is to write down your most important tasks so they are fresh in your mind. This way, when other things come up throughout the day (and they will), you’ll have your priority list to fall back on and keep you focused.

7. Get enough sleep

Many people make the mistake of thinking they have to use as many hours in the day as possible to be productive. However, not getting enough sleep has repeatedly been proven to cause us to be less productive.

In fact, studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can actually cause your brain to shrink. That’s the opposite of a brain booster!

We all have those days when we simply can’t fit in the recommended eight hours and that’s okay. But as a rule, don’t skimp on sleep. It will catch up with you later and it won’t help your goal of having a more productive work week.

8. Set realistic goals

Sometimes the only thing standing in our way is that we are overwhelmed by everything we want to accomplish during the workweek. You are human and can only do so much in a day, week, month, etc. Learning to accept that fact is half the battle.

One way to make your workload more manageable is to set goals for yourself that are achievable. By making your goals possible and even easy to reach, you’ll hit them faster, and set yourself for success all week long.

9. Drink plenty of water

It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated during the day, but that’s no excuse. Neglecting to hydrate throughout the day isn’t doing your brain any favors. Just like eating the right foods and keeping your body energized, drinking enough water is equally as important.

Bring your favorite water bottle with you to help you remember and enjoy drinking water. Take a few sips whenever you can – you may find it works even better than coffee!

10. Meditate

Sometimes to get better focus, we must take a step back from what we are doing. It may sound counterproductive but by taking your mind off the task at hand for a minute or two, you will often come back to it with better clarity.

Some people are hesitant to meditate or take breaks from their work because they think they will lose their motivation. However, the opposite is often true. Sometimes a pause and a few deep breaths are all you need to get over whatever’s keeping you from being as productive as possible.

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Here’s a a 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime.

11. Take scheduled breaks

You can’t work every minute of the day. Well, you can try but you won’t be very productive. Our brains aren’t meant to go full speed all day long.

Schedule breaks in between tasks, projects or after working for a certain amount of time. Set reminders so you don’t forget to take them.

You might think the boss is impressed with your work ethic and they may well be; but you’ll burn yourself out and that’s not good for anyone.

Just like remembering to eat breakfast and get enough sleep, taking breaks – even short ones – are good for your brain, and your productivity levels.

12. Keep your cell phone out of sight

There will be times when you need your phone nearby, especially if you have children or clients/customers who need to get in touch with you on a regular basis. But it’s also okay to set times when you aren’t available.

Setting boundaries – especially when it comes to your phone – is crucial to maximizing productivity. By hiding your phone in a drawer or keeping it in your purse or laptop bag, you effectively minimize its ability to distract you from your work.

13. Choose a quitting time

This one is hard for a lot of people as they often feel that the longer they work, the more they get done. Instead, determine your quitting time from the start. This way, you know exactly how much time you have to dedicate to the tasks you’re working on.

You’re going to have days when your quitting time just isn’t happening and that’s okay. Just aim to quit at your scheduled end time most days and you’ll find that you’re more productive the majority of the time.

Start boosting your brain

Some of these brain-boosting activities are easier than others to commit to and you don’t have to do all of them all the time to stay productive.

If you can commit to incorporating some of these simple tips into your workweek on a regular basis, you’ll see a significant boost in productivity. Plus, you’ll feel a lot better while kicking butt at work!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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Lisa Leslie

Professional Writer, Writer By Default, Rochester, NH

13 Brain Booster Tips to Make You More Productive During the Workweek

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Last Updated on August 7, 2018

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

The 14 most important leadership traits

Please read through the list of leadership qualities carefully. Take note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

Traits for better self-development

1. Vision and mission

Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

    How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

    2. Self-motivated

    It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

    Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

    One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

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    3. Optimism and positivity

    Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

    Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

    Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

    4. Emotional stability

    In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

    If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

    5. Self-confidence

    Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

    It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

    Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

    If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

    How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

    6. Decisiveness

    Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

    Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

    Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

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    I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

    How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

    7. Passion and enthusiasm

    Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

    Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

    Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

      One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

      Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

      8. Accountability and responsibility

      Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

      When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

      To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

      Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

      9. Focus

      Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

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      One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

      If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

      10. Ever-learning

      Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

      Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

      If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

      Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

      It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

      Traits for effective communication

      11. Empathy

      The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

      Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

      One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

      12. Persuasive and influential

      Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

      Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

      There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

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      How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

      If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

      Traits for ensuring an engaging team

      13. Team building

      If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

      If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

      Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

      The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

      14. Fostering creativity

      Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

      Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

      Leadership is a journey of continuous learning

      Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

      Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

      It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

      Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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