live it active

Tips and tricks to improve your productivity at work

Two weeks ago I posted on the various methods you could employ to improve your morning wake-up. So you’ve now improved your morning wake-up, but once you get to the office your focus and excitement for the day (e.g. your joie de vivre) are on their way out the window.

That’s not good for many reasons. Primarily because your productivity will decrease, but also because you are not taking advantage of your prime hours – 9 AM to 12 PM. These are the golden hours for work according to Dr. Lynne Hasher, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

So how do you take advantage? Here are a few ideas:

1. Do productivity sprints. Take a break every 90 minutes. Changing channels physically, emotionally, or mentally every so often will help maintain your focus and energy for when you return to the task at hand.

2. Stop gabbing. I know, I know you want to catch up with your cubicle mate about the long-weekend, but this chatter really cuts into your work time. Save it for lunch.

3. Breathe. Of course you’re breathing while you’re working, but most of the time you are sitting hunched over your keyboard which restricts the diaphragm. This leads to shallow breathing and thus, less oxygen circulating through your bloodstream. So sit up, roll back your shoulders, inhale deeply (with eyes closed preferably) and exhale. Dr. Margaret Chesney, a professor of medicine at the University of California encourages people to take a breath every time they look at the clock.

4. Caffeinate yourself. Yes, drinking coffee will boost alertness and focus. Yet, you want to restrain yourself to two eight-ounce cups before lunchtime. Drinking after lunch will likely keep those peepers open long into the night.

5. Pack a good lunch. Lunchables, McDonald’s, and leftover KD just don’t cut it. Pack a lunch loaded with protein and some good carbohydrates. This may be a multigrain bagel sandwich with lean turkey breast and some decadent toppings (e.g. mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato). Nourish your body – you will feel less tired, more alert, and more happy. If you don’t believe me keep a food journal and record how you feel after every meal.

6. Get up. You knew it was coming – the physical activity break. I am now talking to that little voice inside your head asking “does it actually matter?”. Indeed it does. My graduate research looked at that exact question and those spurts of moderately intense physical activity (e.g. activity that makes you breathe a little harder) is positively correlated with your fitness. So get up and march over to the water cooler, dance while you get your water, and run back to your desk while drinking. Just kidding, you can march back to your desk instead of run.

All kidding aside, it’s important to take breaks and reward your mental and physical self throughout the day.

Happy breaking.


Source: Real Simple. July 2011.


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