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How To Take An Effective Nap To Super Boost Your Productivity

How To Take An Effective Nap To Super Boost Your Productivity

“Sleep when you’re dead.” I’ve heard this more times than I can count. The idea is that you’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you die, so don’t waste your time while your alive.

Napping and sleeping in general has become a sign of laziness or weakness. We should be willing, society says, to forego sleep in an effort to keep going, keep working, keep doing.

But sleep and napping specifically, can actually make you a better and more productive person overall. In fact, some companies are installing nap rooms. In fact, research on pilots at NASA showed that a 26-minute nap in flight (while a co-pilot was on duty) enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%.

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So, get comfy, lean back and get a few winks. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you’ll feel after — and ready to keep working.

Take Off Your Shoes

This is really essential. Taking off your shoes will help you get in a comfier state of mind and if you aren’t laying there thinking about how you still have your shoes on, your much more likely to get to sleep quickly.

Lay Down

Laying down for a nap tells your body that you are ready to sleep. Sleep is essential for “resetting” your brain and getting you ready for the rest of your day. It also takes about 50 percent longer to fall asleep sitting up. So it’s much better to just lay down and go right to sleep – especially if you’re on a schedule.

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“Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley who studies the effects of sleep and napping.

Use a Blanket

Or a coat or something to snuggle under. Because sleeping lowers your metabolism, you can get chilled while you’re sleeping. Use a blanket to keep you cozy and sleeping the whole time you’re taking your nap.

Limit Your Napping Time

Aim for a nap of between 20 and 45 minutes. Naps of this length will help you feel refreshed, yet keep you from feeling groggy. A nap of about 90 minutes in length can also boost your creativity. Much longer, though, and you’ll feel groggy and possibly have trouble acclimating back into your day for a little while.

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Nap After Lunch

Our bodies are predisposed to sleep after lunch – which is likely why were are so sleepy after lunch, regardless of what we’ve eaten. In a U.C. Berkeley sleep study, “At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.”

Remember, just because people in the U.S. sleep only at night, doesn’t mean that’s how our bodies are meant to function. Many cultures sleep shorter at night and incorporate a short nap into the day. This helps you get more accomplished all day long, instead of just during the 8 or 10 hours you spend at work.

Set an Alarm

Don’t waste your time trying to wake up any other way. If you need to do something at a certain time — pick up your child from school, go to a meeting, or whatever, then set an alarm and make sure you’ll hear it. Most cell phones have alarm functions and you can even set them to go off again if you need them to.

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Eliminate Guilt

Don’t let cultural expectations or societal standards dictate your need for sleep. If you need to sleep, sleep. Work it in to your schedule so that you can sleep when you need to and still perform your job or other responsibilities effectively. There is no reason why needing to sleep should make you feel guilty. Everyone needs to, whether they admit or not. It’s way better to get some sleep and keep going then to just lay around and watch TV at the end of the day — not doing anything useful because you’re too tired to do anything else.

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Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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