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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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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

Before their success, some of the world’s most successful people experienced epic failure. We celebrate their success but often overlook the path that got them there. A path that is often marked with failure.

As American writer Elbert Hubbard said:

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

So get motivated, and accept failure as merely a chance to learn.

Here are 15 highly successful people who failed (for a couple of times) before they were recognized by their glorious success.

1. Sir James Dyson

    You know that frustrating feeling when you don’t get something on the first attempt?

    Multiple that by 5,126 because that’s the number of failed prototypes Sir James Dyson went through over the course of 15 years before creating the eponymous best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner that led to a net worth of $4.5billion.

    2. Steven Spielberg

      His cinematic output has grossed more than $9 billion and brought him three Academy Awards, but the master of the blockbuster was rejected TWICE by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

      As their way of saying “Oops, I guess we were wrong about you” the school built a building in honor of Spielberg.

      3. Thomas Edison

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        In what might be at once the most discouraging statement and worst teaching practice of all time, Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’.

        Edison went on to hold more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph and practical electric lamp. Death most likely spared his teachers the ignominy of their incorrect assessment.

        4. Walt Disney

          Can you imagine your childhood without Disney? Well it could easily have been if Walt had listened to his former newspaper editor. The editor told Walt he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. Undeterred, Old Walt went on to create the cultural icon that bears his name.

          Disney’s take on failure:

          “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”

          5. Albert Einstein

            His name is synonymous with intelligence yet it wasn’t always that way for Albert Einstein. As a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped.

            He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics. I guess he was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years…

            6. J.K. Rowling

            JK

              Before there was a wizard, there was welfare. Rowling was a broke, depressed, divorced single mother simultaneously writing a novel while studying.

              Now one of the richest women in the world, Rowling reflects on her early failures:

              “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

              7. Abraham Lincoln

                Lincoln’s failures were broad and numerous. He achieved the unique feat of leaving for a war a captain and returning a private (the lowest military rank).

                He next took failure in his stride during multiple failed business attempts. Undeterred, Lincoln marched into the political realm, where he launched several failed runs at political office before his ascendance to President.

                8. Jerry Seinfeld

                  Before the show about nothing, Seinfeld was a young comedian on the stand-up circuit. His first time on stage didn’t go so well. On seeing the audience he froze and was booed and jeered off stage.

                  His choices: pack it in and accept comedy isn’t his thing or return to the same stage the following night and have the audience in hysterics. He opted for the latter and went on to become one of the most successful comedians of all time.

                  9. Theodor Seuss Geisel

                    Known to generations as Dr Seuss, the much-loved children’s author had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.

                    His books that weren’t good enough for these publishers went on to sell more than 600 million copies worldwide.

                    10. Oprah Winfrey

                      She’s a billionaire with her own TV channel and a penchant for giving away cars but Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore.

                      In 2013, Oprah reflected on her experiences during a Harvard commencement speech:

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                      “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

                      Creating your own TV channel is a sure way never to get fired again!

                      11. Stephen King

                        In another instance in the never ending series “Book Publishers Making Dumb Decisions”, mega novelist Stephen King had his first book Carrie rejected 30 times.

                        Dejected, King dumped the book in the trash. His wife retrieved it and implored him to resubmit it which led to his first book deal and spawned his illustrious career.

                        12. Vincent Van Gogh

                          A Van Gogh painting will cost you upwards of $100 million nowadays. But in his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh couldn’t get rid of the things.

                          He sold just one painting, ‘The Red Vineyard’, during his lifetime, and the sale came not long before his death. Unfortunately for Vincent, others got to enjoy the financial spoils of his lifetime of toils.

                          13. Elvis Presley

                            “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

                            These are the words that greeted Elvis Presley after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry, after which he was promptly fired. Disposing of the keys to the truck, Presley went on to become the world’s biggest star with a legacy that endures.

                            14. Michael Jordan

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                              Either he was part of the greatest high school roster of all time or his coach made a huge mistake in cutting Michael Jordan from his high school basketball team. Six Championships and five MVPs later, Jordan became arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

                              Jordan famously said:

                              “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

                              15. Charles Darwin

                                The man credited with much of how we came to understand the world today, Darwin was considered an average student and abandoned a career in medicine as a result.

                                Darwin embarked on a lifetime study of nature that led to the seminal ‘On the Origin of Species’ and forever altered the way humankind looks at our existence.

                                Final Thoughts

                                These famous and highly successful people’s crowning achievements stem from drive and determination as much as ability.

                                Persistence and certitude are the difference between success and failure. So if you want to succeed, don’t be afraid to fail.

                                Fail often, fail fast and learn from your mistakes. The more times you fail, the closer you’re getting to success.

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                                Featured photo credit: Kal Loftus via unsplash.com

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