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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

More by this author

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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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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