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How To Super Boost Your Productivity By Taking Quick Nap

How To Super Boost Your Productivity By Taking Quick Nap

It is now generally accepted that a short sleep or nap in the afternoon will boost your productivity and get you raring to go again. The southern Mediterranean countries have known and practised this since ancient times. Some large companies, such as Google and Apple, have nap-friendly policies. Other companies put napping pods in the communal areas so that taking a power nap is accepted.

According to NASA, you can boost your productivity by about 35 percent if you take a 26-minute nap. Don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be exactly 26 minutes!

If you want to do it privately, you can go to a napping spa where you will get a 20 minute nap for about $17. The important thing is to prevent the short nap from becoming a longer, deeper sleep (slow wave sleep). That might mean you would wake up feeling rather groggy and bad-tempered. This is why 20-45 minutes is usually considered ideal. Some experts say that longer than 30 minutes is unproductive, however.

There are many studies that list the benefits of napping. These include being more alert, reduced fatigue, faster reaction times, better memory, enhanced mood and sharper logical reasoning. Not to mention more efficient decision making. All these without the need for yet another coffee!

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If your company does not have napping rooms, you may find that an inexpensive device called a Dream Helmet (about $30), which has a pillow, mask and earplugs, will help you have a short nap.  Here are 9 ways to make sure that you are going to get the maximum benefit from your nap.

1. Choose your best time to nap

“You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner… Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imaginations. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one — well, at least one and a half, I’m sure.”Winston Churchill

Everyone has different sleep patterns and sleep-wake rhythms. These rise and fall throughout the day. You have to work out what is best for you. If you suffer from insomnia, a nap may not be a workable solution.

If your sleep is regular and you feel that you are slowing down and drowsy in the mid afternoon, then that is fine, as a nap will not interfere with your night sleep schedule. Aim for a short nap. Anything more than 45 minutes could make you feel even worse when you wake up!

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2. Remove your shoes

Taking off your shoes is just one thing you should do to get comfortable. Maybe you do not have your pajamas with you, but loosening any tight clothes will be a great way to relax.

 3. Please do not disturb

Make sure that those around you know that this is your time out and that it should be respected. Ensure all your devices are switched off and you are in a quiet spot. In the workplace, this may well be impossible; but if you are working from home, it is certainly easier.

4. Sit down or lie down?

Well, you are not a horse so you cannot take your power nap standing up! Lying down will help you relax and sleep. Even if you do not actually doze off, there are still benefits from a quiet wakefulness. Napping while sitting is also beneficial although it is better to lie down, if you can.

5. Use a blanket, if you have one

Blankets give you a sense of security and comfort. But there is another reason why we should cover up. As you sleep, your body temperature tends to go down and metabolism slows. Without a blanket, you may feel cold and wake up.

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6. Be careful with wake-up gimmicks

Normally, you will sleep as long as you need and it is best, in my experience, to avoid using an alarm clock or other gimmicks. If you have appointments, however, set the alarm on your phone.

7. Darkness helps you nap

Aim for a dark spot if you can. Any light pollution interferes with the sleep process, as has been shown in scientific studies. Always have your eye mask handy, just in case you do not find a dark place.

8. Learn to feel less guilty

“Sleep is the food of the brain”- David Gozal.

In the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant tradition, sleeping on the job was a no-no. Now all that has changed, thankfully. Learn to get over any guilt complexes about sleeping on the job. You are merely recharging your batteries, and your brain will be in top gear when you wake up.

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9. Drink less coffee

Coffee is great for that caffeine shot that keeps you alert and gives you more energy. But the negative health effects from too much of it are well known and documented. These include jitters and anxiety. It can also keep you too hyped up so that when you want to nap, you will find it difficult to nod off.

Have you managed to take a nap at work and did it really increase your productivity? Tell us about what happened in the comments below.

 

Featured photo credit: A well deserved power nap/Chris Lawrence via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

There’s a dark side to the conveniences of the Digital Age. With smartphones that function like handheld computers, it has become increasingly difficult to leave our work behind. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to be accessible 24/7.

How often are you ever focused on just one thing? Most of us try to meet these demands by multi-tasking.

Many of us have bought into the myth that we can achieve more through multi-tasking. In this article, I’ll show you how you can accomplish more work in less time. Spoiler alert: multi-tasking is not the answer.

Why is multitasking a myth?

The term “multi-tasking” was originally used to describe how microprocessors in computers work. Machines multitask, but people cannot.

Despite our inability to simultaneously perform two tasks at once, many people believe they are excellent multi-taskers.

You can probably imagine plenty of times when you do several things at once. Maybe you talk on the phone while you’re cooking or respond to emails during your commute.

Consider the amount of attention that each of these tasks requires. Chances are, at least one of the two tasks in question is simple enough to be carried out on autopilot.

We’re okay at simultaneously performing simple tasks, but what if you were trying to perform two complex tasks? Can you really work on your presentation and watch a movie at the same time? It can be fun to try to watch TV while you work, but you may be unintentionally making your work more difficult and time-consuming.

Your brain on multi-tasking

Your brain wasn’t designed to multi-tasking. To compensate, it will switch from task to task. Your focus turns to whatever task seems more urgent. The other task falls into the background until you realize you’ve been neglecting it.

When you’re bouncing back and forth like this, an area of the brain known as Broadmann’s Area 10 activates. Located in your fronto-polar prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain, this area controls your ability to shift focus. People who think they are excellent multitaskers are really just putting Broadmann’s Area 10 to work.

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But I can juggle multiple tasks!

You are capable of taking in information with your eyes while doing other things efficiently. Scientifically speaking, making use of your vision is the only thing you can truly do while doing something else.

For everything else, you’re serial tasking. This constant refocusing can be exhausting, and it prevents us from giving our work the deep attention it deserves.

Think about how much longer it takes to do something when you have to keep reminding yourself to focus.

Why multitasking is failing you

Multitasking does more bad than good to your productivity, here’re 4 reasons why you should stop multitasking:

Multitasking wastes your time.

You lose time when you interrupt yourself. People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting themselves back on track when they switch between tasks.

In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s a significant loss in efficiency. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to be 40% less productive while you’re on the operating table, would you?

It makes you dumber.

A distracted brain performs a full 10 IQ points lower than a focused brain. You’ll also be more forgetful, slower at completing tasks, and more likely to make mistakes.

You’ll have to work harder to fix your mistakes. If you miss an important detail, you could risk injury or fail to complete the task properly.

This is an emotional response.

There’s so much data suggesting that multitasking is ineffective but people insist that they can multitask.

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Feeling productive fulfills an emotional need. We want to feel like we’re accomplishing something. Why accomplish just one item on the to-do list when you can check off two or three?

It’ll wear you out.

When you’re jumping from task to task, it can feel invigorating for a little while. Over time, this needs to fill every second with more and more work leads to burn out.

We’re simply not built to multitask, so when we try, the effect can be exhausting. This destroys your productivity and your motivation.

How to stop multitasking and work productively

Flitting back and forth between tasks feels second-nature after a while. This is in part because Broadmann’s Area 10 becomes better at serial tasking through time.

In addition to changing how the brain works, this serial tasking behavior can quickly turn into a habit.

Just like any bad habit, you’ll need to recognize that you need to make a change first. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to adjust to a lifestyle of productive mono-tasking:

1. Consciously change gears

Instead of trying to work on two distinct tasks at once, consider setting up a system to remind you when to change focus. This technique worked for Jerry Linenger, an American astronaut onboard the space station, Mir.

As an astronaut, he had many things to take care of every day. He set alarms for himself on a few watches. When a particular watch sounded, he knew it was time to switch tasks. This enabled him to be 100% in tune with what he was doing at any given moment.

This strategy is effective because the alarm served as his reminder for what was to come next. Linenger’s intuition about setting reminders falls in line with research conducted by Paul Burgess of University College, London on multitasking.

2. Manage multiple tasks without multitasking

Raj Dash of Performancing.com has an effective strategy for balancing multiple projects without multitasking. He suggests taking 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with a new project before moving on to other work. Revisit the project later and do about thirty minutes on research and brainstorming.

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Allow a few days to pass before knocking out the project in question. While you were actively work on other projects, your brain continues to problem solve-in the background.

This method works because it gives us the opportunity to work on several projects without allowing them to compete for your attention.

3. Set aside distractions

Your smartphone, your inbox and the open tabs on your computer are all open invitations for distraction. Give yourself time each day when you silence your notifications, close your inbox and remove unnecessary tabs from your desktop.

If you want to focus, you can’t give anything else an opportunity to invade your mental space.

Emails can be particularly invasive because they often have an unnecessary sense of urgency associated with them. Some work cultures stress the importance of prompt responses to these messages, but we can’t treat every situation like an emergency.

Designate certain times in your day for checking and responding to emails to avoid compulsive checking.

4. Take care of yourself

We often blame electronics for pulling us from our work, but sometimes our physical body forces us into a state of serial tasking. If you’re hungry while you’re trying to work, your attention will flip between your hunger and your work until you take care of your physical needs.

Try to take all your bio-breaks before you sit down for an uninterrupted stint of work.

In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you’re attending to your health in a broader sense. Getting enough exercise, practicing mindfulness and incorporating regular breaks into your day will keep you from being tempted by distractions.

5. Take a break

People are more likely to head to YouTube or check their social media when they need a break. Instead of trying to work and watch a mindless video at the same time, give yourself times when you’re allowed to enjoy your distracting activity of choice.

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Limit how much time you’ll spend on this break so that your guilt-free distraction time doesn’t turn into hours of wasted time.

6. Make technology your ally

Scientists are beginning to discover the detrimental effects of chronic serial tasking on our brains. Some companies are developing programs to curb this desire to multitask.

Apps like Forest turn staying focused into a game. Extensions like RescueTime help you track your online habits so that you can be more aware of how you spend your time.

The key to productivity: Focus

Multitasking is not the key to productivity. It’s far better to schedule time to focus on each task than it is to try to do everything at once.

Make use of the methods outlined above and prepare to be more effective and less exhausted in the process.

If you want to learn more about how to focus, don’t miss my other article:

How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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