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5 Ways to Be More Productive Without Losing Sleep

5 Ways to Be More Productive Without Losing Sleep

Do you think the only way you can finish your work is to cut back on sleep and either stay up late or wake up early?

Cutting back on your sleep hours is never a good idea, especially if you want to be well rested, refreshed and productive the next day.

Here are five ways that can help you be more productive in your daily routine–without losing sleep!

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During the day…

1. Learn a new skill.

Even if you are extremely savvy at doing something (such as using that writing app you’ve had on your laptop for ages), you can always learn something new to help you increase your productivity.

Instead of staying up late trying to figure out how to reformat a document the only way you know how, why not learn how to do it properly, correctly and in less time? You’ll have to invest some time to learn your new skill or skills, but your hard work will be well worth it.

Watch a video tutorial, read a book or write a blog post on your subject to learn as much as you can and say “bye-bye” to those endless late-night hours trying to figure out how to do something.

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2. Choose your method of communication wisely.

Waiting for a response to an urgent question can be draining and time-consuming. Why tack on more time to your workday than necessary?

Consider whether you are using the best possible method of communication for your needs. While emailing a colleague to ask them a question might be second nature to you, is there an easier and faster way to get a response? Could you call your coworker directly on the phone? Send a text? Walk over to their workspace?

Similarly, if you know it takes you a long time to write an email and you know you can communicate your message much more quickly over the phone, why not make the call to save yourself some late-night waiting time?

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3. Conquer hidden distractions.

Minimizing distractions is always a good idea, but have you ever considered that there might be several hidden distractions in your regular work routine? Left unchecked, these distractions can multiply quickly and cost you precious time and energy.

Let’s say you’re working in your home office when your dog, Fluffy, bounces into the room with his chew toy and begs you to play with him. You happily put down your work for a moment and play a little game of catch with Fluffy, only to realize thirty minutes have passed by. Yikes!

Finding hidden distractions in your day does take a bit of detective work, but once you uncover them, you have a better shot at neutralizing them (you might want to shut your office door as you work or put Fluffy in the basement) and beefing up your ability to get things done during the day.

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During the evening…

4. Set the scene for sleep.

Is your bedroom a comfortable and relaxing room? Or is it a hive of electronic activity filled with blinking, buzzing smartphones and laptops? It can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep when there’s a lot of temptation to do work! Be sure to clear your bedroom of any and all work-related devices and materials.

Ever have an idea pop into your head as you are nodding off? Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside for all those random ideas, thoughts and musings. You can easily jot down thoughts and get them out of your head, without having to worry whether or not you’ll remember the item in the morning.

5. Set a regular bedtime.

Finally, put a stop to working those unnecessary late night hours; set a regular bedtime and stick to it! Is it necessary to work on that non-urgent project until you finish it at 2 in the morning? Can you work on your project the following day when you are wide-awake and refreshed (and no longer tired) or later in the week when you have more time? Know how many hours you need to get a good night’s rest and strive to hit your bedtime on a regular basis for some much needed rest.

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Rashelle Isip

Blogger, Consultant, and Author

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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