If you often find that your most important projects are pushed aside because of the lack of time, energy, or focus, here’s how to gain control over your time with these tips on how to be productive all day.
How to Manage Your Energy to Be More Productive
Your energy level peaks and dips throughout the day and without rest, it fades away, leaving you feeling exhausted and burnt out.
The good news is, you can expand and renew your energy with frequent breaks.
Our bodies have “ultraidan rhythms” which are 90-to-120 minute energy cycles where we begin with a wealth of energy and end with little to none.
Restlessness, yawning, hunger, and difficulty concentrating are signs a break is in order.
Go for a walk, listen to music, or do anything else that’s rejuvenating. The length of a break is less important than it’s quality, as long as you disengage completely from work.
How to Be Productive All Day: Managing Emotions
We perform our best when there’s an abundance of positive energy but workplace demands and other stressful situations quickly turn good moods into sour ones.
If you’re headed in a downward spiral, prevent negative emotions from derailing your productivity with these three ways.
1. Deep breaths. Deep abdominal breathing – exhaling slowly for five or six seconds – encourages relaxation and recovery while reducing your fight-or-flight response.
2. Show appreciation. Enforce a practice of gratitude by regularly saying thank you with a call, a note, or an email. The more detailed and specific you can be, the higher the impact of positive emotions for you and others.
3. Change your story. Your perspective on an event and the stories you tell yourself affects your emotions either positively or negatively.
Break free of a negative perspective by viewing it through these three different lenses.
Reverse lens: “What would the other person say and how might that be true?”
Long lens: “How will I most likely view this situation in six months?”
Wide lens: “Regardless of the outcome of this issue, how can I grow and learn from it?”
– Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, Harvard Business Review
How to Be Productive All Day: Dealing With Constant Interruptions
Getting things done takes longer with constant interruptions from email notifications, social media alerts, or other people.
To quantify the effects of distraction, a field study of 27 employees over a two-week period yielded over 2,000 hours of activity data.
Researchers found that replying to messages distracted workers for at least ten minutes to over two hours because employees used these interruptions to browse other applications before resuming their task.
The negative effects from interruptions were higher when working on a task that required high mental concentration.
If workers were interrupted during a period that required intense mental focus, they would take longer to resume their previous task because they lost context with task switching.
How to recover faster from interruptions
Keep your current task window at the forefront, unobstructed by other applications as sifting through open windows wastes valuable time, with visual cues like curser locations and highlights.
Why Watching Funny Videos Is Good for Focus
In a 2011 study, individuals at the University of Copenhagen were asked to perform a computer task.
After completing this task, some could watch a funny video but those who couldn’t had to resist pressing the play button.
When both groups performed a subsequent task, those who resisted watching the video performed worse than the video viewers.
The reason for poor performance is attributed to ‘attentional residue’, a term coined by business school professor Sophie Leroy, where your brain is still focused on completing an unfinished task.
Mental energy is split between completing the previous task and the current one, making it difficult to concentrate on either one.
If you have to switch tasks, look for a good stopping point so your mind can move on and focus on the next project.
How to Be Productive All Day: Prevent Social Media From Eating up Time
Time spent on social media is an opportunity cost – you’re exchanging time spent on meaningful work to spend on social media.
If you want to spend more time productively pursuing other important work, ask yourself these three questions prior to logging on.
Am I using this as a procrastination tool instead of getting down to business?
Am I bored?
Am I feeling lonely? Have I created opportunities for meaningful connection in my day?
Lori Deschene, founder of tinybuddha.com, via Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind
Don’t let the world dictate how you spend your time.
The world will wait. And if it’s important, they’ll call back.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, Harvard Business Review
Disruption and Recovery of Computing Tasks: Field Study, Analysis, and Directions, S.T. Iqbal, E. Horvitz.
Temptation at Work, Harvard Business School Research Paper by A. Bucciol, D. Hourser, and M. Piovesan