Life is holistic. Every aspect influences every other. Don’t sacrifice yourself productivity’s altar. Instead, embrace these health and productivity tips.
So many people measure their days by how many hours they worked. I don’t. For me, it’s irrelevant how many hours I put in. What matters is what came out of me during the time I worked. After all, on a good day, I can do in four hours what I can’t even finish on a bad day (writing is like that).
For that reason, I care a great deal about my productivity and pay a huge amount of attention to the tricks and the tips that will help me. Now, I’ve read all the regular websites but I only ever booked mediocre returns with those tricks. The way that I found I could really boost my productivity was through health tips.
That kind of makes sense. After all, if you’re healthy then you can concentrate and keep going for much longer than you otherwise can. Obviously, that makes a difference.
All the same, not all health tips are born equal. For that reason, I thought I’d put together a list of my favorites.
The first thing I started to pay attention to was not just how much I slept (though that is incredibly important) but also how well I slept. Not all sleep is equal. Sometimes you can sleep a whole night and wake up unrested. Other nights, less sleep can do much more.
For that reason, I started paying attention to sleep hygiene. This included:
On the other side, if you find that on the weekend you’re getting up really late, then that probably means you’re not sleeping well. Also, alcohol might knock you out, but it affects your sleep negatively. So if you’re struggling to sleep, find other ways to help yourself sleep more easily.
In fact, it can get quite counterproductive. Does that mean that you should just abandon caffeine entirely? If you can do that, then you’re a better person than I am. I need my shot of caffeine in the morning! I don’t care if it’s only psychological.
The thing is, it shouldn’t be the only way that you try to keep awake. Instead, make sure that you have a pool of fruit and vegetable snacks at hand. These can give you as much of a boost if not more as caffeine and have the added advantage that they’re healthy.
I find that if I try to work more than two hours at a go. After that, my attention and my interest start to waver. The trick, I’ve found, is to take regular breaks. If you spend five to ten minutes an hour doing something else, then you’ll be able to work for much longer than you otherwise would.
Of course, a break does not mean yet more screen time. What you really want to do is get away from the screen for those minutes. So you might go and make yourself a cup of tea, go for a walk or just lie on the couch with your eyes closed. This is both great for your mental processes as well as for your eyes (who hasn’t felt that strain at the end of the day?).
Even better, sometimes just getting some distance between yourself and the screen can serve to give you a different perspective, which can be both what you need when you are writing your mastergrades college assignments or in your job. And that can really help you see things in a different way. It has happened to me plenty of times that I’ve gone away for five minutes only to be able to come back with a breakthrough.
In the Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor describes how the idea that we if we’re successful we’ll be happy puts the cart in front of the horse. It’s the other way around. If you want to be successful, you have to take the time to be happy.
Now there are tons of ways to do this, but the easiest is a simple exercise where once per day you list three things in the last 24 hours that made you happy. Similarly, take occasional moments to do something that makes you laugh. It doesn’t have to belong. If cat videos make you happy, then watch one of those. A good happy moment can last for hours.
If you can do that, then you’ll find that your happiness is positively influenced, which will make you more creative, think more broadly and in other was more productive. So don’t think that you should sacrifice happiness at the altar of productivity. They go together. Your happiness will boost your productivity.
It’s such a simple little thing to do in the middle of your day and yet it can keep tiredness at bay. Simply get up and stretch. If you can do something like yoga, even better. It doesn’t need to be anything like that, though. If you just stretch your back and dip towards your toes, that will already help.
It will force you to move your muscles, get the blood flowing and has all the other benefits of exercise. In fact, it is exercise, even though in the gym you might think it is only preparation.
What it does not do, however, is make you sweat. And that is important when you’re trying to appear professional in your workspace. Sweat patches, I’ve found, don’t make happy colleagues.
We all get peckish during the day. It’s a fact of life. By the time it happens it’s generally already too late to do anything but walk to the candy machine and get a chocolate bar. That’s because when you’re hungry your sugar levels are low and you’ll have the overwhelming urge to do something about it right now to fill them back up again.
For that reason, the trick is to have healthy snacks ready to go. In that way, you can just grab for them without necessarily interrupting your flow. Even better, healthy snacks keep your energy levels up much longer than unhealthy snacks do.
Aim for nuts, whole grains, oranges and other citrus fruits and if you must have chocolate, get the black variety with low sugar. (If you eat them a couple of times, you actually will end up preferring them to white or milk chocolate varieties).
The modern work environment might not suggest it’s a good idea but the modern work environment gets it wrong more often. Socializing with the people around you can serve to really pick you up, restore energy and give you a good mood besides.
So go over to your colleague’s desk and have a chat about the game on TV last night, shoes or the kids. As long as you’re both enjoying it and interested in the topic at hand, you’ll both benefit enormously from the exchange.
Even better, the more social connections we have at work, the more we’ll enjoy going into the office. That cuts down on absenteeism, creates a more enjoyable atmosphere for everybody and even reduces turnover. So even your boss should encourage it if they know what’s good for them!
People that use their holiday time have better careers than those that don’t. That’s right. You probably didn’t expect that but that doesn’t make it less true. That’s because we all need to recharge and get time off to do things that we love. We all need to decompress and enjoy ourselves.
Then, when we come back into work, we’ll be in a much better state of mind, much healthier, will have been able to work on our relationships and will be full of stories about what we’ve been up to. That is far more useful for you in the long run than working those few extra days.
So go on holiday! Besides, it’s fun as well!
Don’t sacrifice everything else at the altar of productivity. This isn’t just much fun but doesn’t actually work. Life is a holistic experience with every sphere influencing every other one. For that reason, make sure that you give every aspect of your life the attention that it needs. In that way, you’ll be both happy and productive.
Is that possible? Yes, it is. In fact, happiness – as I’ve already said – is instrumental. Stop believing how work has been depicted by the companies. Make your own way. You’ll feel better for it and you’ll do better by it.