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10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours

10 Simple Ways To Maximize Productivity And Stop Working Long Hours

You don’t get a gold star for working more hours than everyone else in your office. The amount of time you spend at work says nothing about the quality of your work, so why not maximize productivity? You will get more done in less hours, saving time for the important things that really make you happy!

1. Focus on the Most Important Things.

You cannot do every single thing, every single day. Write down the three most important things that must get done and focus on that. If you knock those tasks out with plenty of time to spare, then you can add the next three important things. Before you begin any task, ask yourself, “Am I doing this for a good reason or am I just passing time?” Answer honestly and adjust as necessary.

2. Wake Up Early.

We all have the same number of hours per day, but we all don’t make the most out of those available hours. There are a few strategies you can use to start your day right. Choose the one that sounds most beneficial to you:

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Option A: Eliminate the biggest source of stress.

If you would stop thinking about how much you don’t want to do the thing AND JUST DO THE THING ALREADY, you’ll be a lot less stressed. Due to this reality, let’s just isolate the thing that stresses you out the most and get it over with ASAP. No excuses. No complaining. Get it done!

Option B: Start with the most important task.

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If one thing HAS to get done today, what is it? Do that. You’ll feel happy and accomplished, giving you energy to get through the rest of the day.

Option C: Feed your brain with words.

Not everyone can wake up and start working right away. Sound like you? Grab a book and read a few chapters with a cup of coffee or hot tea (bonus points if you do it outside with the sun rising and birds singing). Your brain will be ready to go after it gets a healthy dose of inspiration.

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3. Close the Door.

This is especially important for writers: if the door is shut, that means you are working and no one shall enter. It can take a little while to get your creative juices flowing, so being faced with constant distractions will take a toll on your productivity by the time you start-and-stop-and-start-again-and-stop-again-and-(you get the idea). If you are an office worker, the same rule applies: if you need to focus, tell your co-workers you need some quiet to finish (insert incredibly important thing here) and would appreciate it if they left you alone unless it’s an emergency.

4. Do One Thing at a Time.

Multi-tasking is just a slightly more productive version of procrastination. Stop kidding yourself.

5. Silence Your Phone.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time focusing on writing articles like this when I am interrupted by buzzing, chirping, or ringing from my cell phone every few minutes. There is no text that requires an immediate answer. It can wait.

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6. Re-charge Your Batteries.

While focus is the key that unlocks your productivity, there comes a time when the best thing to do is walk away. We are not meant to work for hours-on-end without a break from the grind. Working beyond your limits will only result in sub-par work that takes much longer to complete than it should.

7. Ask for Help.

It is more efficient to ask for help when it is needed than it is to stubbornly plow forward. I don’t know the first thing about design, but I know a whole lot of people who do (so I seek their input when I need it). Even if you don’t know a person with the answer to your question, you could get help VIA a simple Google search. You cannot be the expert of everything, so seek outside help to save your time (and sanity).

8. Group Similar Tasks Together.

Different tasks require different mind-sets for effective completion. For example: writing a helpful article, crafting a thoughtful e-mail, studying for an exam, and making a sales call are very different tasks that require very different executions. Why not set one or two times where you send every e-mail, make every phone-call, or write every letter? Surely you have noticed that it typically takes longer to start a chore than it does to actually complete it. Knocking out similar tasks, all in a group, will eliminate the time it takes to set-up for each task, so you’ll have more time to enjoy your day.

9. Exercise for 30 Minutes Each Day.

A quick bout of exercise will boost your energy, helping you carry yourself with ease. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, will leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated. Your body is the vessel that carries you throughout this world, so treat it accordingly.

10. Know Your Limits.

Getting more done in less time is great, but as time goes on it becomes harder and harder to make a task any more productive than it is. If you can’t take your productivity any further, shift your focus to the quality of your work (because isn’t that the point anyway?). Also, if seeking ever-growing productivity starts to drain the joy out of your work, let it go. Just because we can do something faster doesn’t mean we really need to. As Gandhi said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

How do you maximize productivity at work and home? If you could have an extra hour or two per day, what would you do with it?

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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