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7 Ways To Kick-Start Your Productivity

7 Ways To Kick-Start Your Productivity

The difference between people who live a full life and those who barely get by is the measure of their productivity. People who stay productive and work hard every day find that they lead a fuller life than those who settle for mediocrity. If you have found yourself struggling with the way your life is heading, take advantage of these great pointers and make the necessary changes in your life to kick-start your productivity and move forward.

1. Plan your time

Time is a precious commodity. Once it’s gone, we can never get it back. The best thing to do to make sure you take advantage of every minute of every day is to plan your daily activities. Those activities can be work, to-do lists, hobbies, and anything that you want to do during the day. Plan out your time so you don’t find yourself sitting on the couch for hours with your eyes glued to the TV. Make a plan and stick to it.

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2. Schedule some fun

Some people find that unless they schedule fun things, they will never happen. I’m not only talking about trips to Disneyland or a seven-day cruise, I’m talking about the little things: a walk in the park, a picnic with your family, or a movie night. These are small things that can make a big difference in your life and in your relationships. They serve as a reminder of what’s important and where your priorities should be.

3. Exercise

Exercise is a vital part of increasing your daily productivity. My favorite line from a movie (Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde) sums it up well: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Endorphins are chemicals in your brain that are released when you exercise. They act as sedatives and diminish your body’s perception of pain. This causes a euphoric feeling more commonly known as “runner’s high.” It helps to boost your self-esteem, decrease depression, have a more positive outlook on life and even improves sleep.

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4. Don’t negative self-talk

Stay positive, especially with yourself. You want to push yourself, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Mistakes are made by everyone, even you. When you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. It might sound strange, but when you look at yourself in the mirror, say positive things. Point out your good attributes, physical or otherwise.

5. Control your internet time

We waste so much time on the internet. It’s so easy to get lost in Facebook, YouTube, and even news articles. People spend hours a day bouncing from article to article. All that time could have been spent working, learning something new, cleaning out car, anything! Don’t get caught up in this time sucker.

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Is it bad to check your Facebook page? No. Is it bad to check your Facebook page and then stalk everyone you knew in high school? Probably. Don’t waste your time wondering what everyone else is doing. You should be using your time becoming the kind of person that people want to Facebook stalk.

6. Realize that your time is valuable

Don’t measure the worth of your time by how little you have. People do this all the time. They think that because they are constantly busy, the things they are doing must be important. This is far from the truth. Don’t be busy just to be busy. There is nothing wrong with looking at your day and finding that you don’t have anything that really needs to be done. Those kinds of breaks are refreshing and vital to your mental and physical well-being.

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7. Prioritize

Choose what things are important and focus on those. If you find that you are being as productive as you can be and you still struggle to get everything done, you need to unload some of the burden off your shoulders. When you do this, you’ll find that you don’t have to do everything. When you spread yourself too thin, you do an alright job at several things. When you focus on a few important factors, you will find that you can excel in them. That should be your goal. Once you excel in those things,  move on to something new. But don’t try to do everything at once.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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