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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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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

You’ll Only Live Your Best Life Once You Step Out

Fear is a valuable thing. It keeps people safe and encourages caution when caution is due. But Fear can also be a limiting factor because not everything you’re afraid of should really be feared.

Have you ever been faced with a situation where you were afraid of making a decision, making a change or taking a risk?

Did you end up taking that risk or making that decision? Or, did you just stay put and left things as they were? If you did, are you happy with how things have turned out?

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It’s in our nature to like feeling safe–to be in comfort and away from danger. This has always been the case since the beginning of time, when the first humans only knew how to prioritize survival. Even today, many still choose to play it safe and avoid taking risks or taking leaps of faith when it comes to their choices in life.

The Realist and the Dreamer

To put it simply, there are two kinds of people: the realists and the dreamers. The realists are the logical and cautious type of individuals who always think and weigh out the pros and cons before making any decisions–especially the big, life changing ones. Whether it was deciding on what to major in at University, what career path to take, whether or not to purchase that house or car, to go on that holiday, or to splurge on that new watch, the realist thinks long and hard before making a decision, if they even decide. Realists stick to the “what’s next?” plan for the future and may not abstractly consider different possibilities for where life can lead. This is usually because of the confidence they have already devoted to an accepted plan.

Realists have dreams too, but these are more so rooted in ambition, drive and determination. They are goals that have been enumerated for some time. Realists understand that progress requires more than ambition and drive, but also, connections. They feel that life is never worry-free because of survival, responsibility and…paying a rent or a mortgage. As a result, they tend to make safe choices and stick to their comfort of knowing what’s best for themselves.

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Now let’s look at the dreamers. The dreamers are well, dreamers. They have big lofty ambitions, are risk takers, sometimes over impulsive, but they often always challenge the norms of society and dare to think outside the box. This is not to say that they do not have plans or a path that they want to follow. But they are more likely to change the course of their journey through time, experience and by following their heart.

Dreamers derive their inspiration from within. No one else’s perspectives weigh in greatly enough to shift a dreamer’s drive. Dreamers don’t allow their fears to consume them. They may fail from time to time, but they never give up on life or love.

Embrace Fear

So which of the two do you think you are? And is one better than the other? In life, balance is always key. I’m sure you would have heard the saying: “everything in moderation”. Likewise, being a realist isn’t any better than being a dreamer. Both come with their challenges. But what I do know, is that no matter where you are in life, fear should always be seen as a way of pushing you towards becoming a better you.

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Stepping outside of your comfort zone is a type of fear that should be embraced. If you see yourself as a dreamer, then great! Chances are, stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t new to you. Whether it’s deciding to drop out of University to start your own business, moving to a new country on your own, taking that step to ask someone out on a date despite thinking they’re way out of your league, or deciding to quit your high paying job of 10 years to become a DJ. You chose to do that because you knew that you would most likely regret the ‘what ifs’ more than the mistakes (if any) of those decisions.

But if you’ve always been more of a cautious individual (nearing towards being a realist), then I hope you’ll give more thought to embracing the act of stepping out more! Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to start making hasty or bold decisions such as the ones mentioned. It just means opening your mind to the acceptance that stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t a bad thing, it’s not something to be hesitant or afraid of.

Managing Fear

In times of stress or discomfort, remember that some of the best things happen when you’re afraid or put in an uncomfortable situation. These experiences can both challenge you and help you grow. Commit to giving the situation a try with your best effort, and keep expectations low to reduce additional pressure. Living outside of one’s comfort zone is by definition uncomfortable. Therefore, the best habit you can foster within yourself is the practice of becoming familiar with discomfort.

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You may be at a crossroad in life and feeling undecided about something, or you may feel like you’re not happy with where you’re at right now. It could be a job that you’re not happy with, a relationship you’re not happy in, or even just knowing that you’re too comfortable with where you’re at that you don’t feel challenged. All of this uncertainty can be traced back to your intentions. What is it that you want? What is it that you’re looking for?

So, What Are You Looking For?

If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut or know that you need some sort of change, but you’re just not sure how to take that step towards the change, why not subscribe to our newsletter? Our daily inspiration will help you embark on a journey, and will allow you to find that light at the end of the tunnel you’re searching for.

At Lifehack, we’re dedicated to helping you find the ideal solutions to your problems, and with over 15 years of experience in coaching, we have condensed our knowledge and practices into a highly effective transformational model that you can use to not only help you out of your rut, but to also help you find new and bigger meaning to your life.

Stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t always the easiest, but we’re here to make it easier for you to realize your true potential. The time to act is now!

Featured photo credit: Maher El Aridi via unsplash.com

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