In a world where your output is often measured by how much you can do on any given day, productivity is a serious concern. Entrepreneurs are their own boss, and while this has many benefits, procrastination and loss of focus can derail your efforts. As a digital nomad, these risks are compounded as work often has to fit around travel and different time zones.
Arguably, it’s better to be effective than productive, suggesting that being effective is about focusing on the right things. But all things being equal, if you were productive at what makes you most effective, you wouldn’t just get more done – you would truly be on the path to success.
So, how can you boost your productivity? Here are eight simple hacks you should try for yourself.
1. Turn Up The Tunes
Dr. Teresa Lesiuk at the University of Miami studied the effect listening to music had on work performance. What she found was that those who listened to music while working worked faster, had better ideas and experienced positive mood change.
You may want to experiment with different types of music for optimal performance. If you find music with lyrics too distracting, then classical or meditation music might be best. Personally, I have a soothing playlist with tracks by Ludovico Einaudi and Ólafur Arnalds which helps with creative thinking and strategy sessions.
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2. Work Up A Sweat
A study conducted at Bristol University found that exercise boosted employee performance by 21%. Their research was based on 200 employees across three organizations who exercised one day and didn’t exercise the next. Overall, on workout days, participant scores were 21% higher for concentration, 22% higher for finishing work on time, 25% higher for working without unscheduled breaks and 41% higher for feeling motivated.
3. Make Your Office Green
According to the University of Exeter, employee productivity soars by 15% when offices are furnished with just a handful of houseplants. Plants are also known to reduce stress, illness, absenteeism and noise levels. They can also help with cleaning the air and making your workspace more attractive to job applicants.
While a bonsai may look aesthetically pleasing, opt for something low maintenance like a cactus, spider or pothos plant. Looking at an office full of dead plants isn’t going to do much for productivity.
4. Get More Sleep
The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found in a 2010 study that employees with insomnia or insufficient sleep experienced major productivity losses, spending almost three times as much of their day just on time management. Sleep-deprived workers also suffered a lack of motivation, couldn’t focus, had trouble remembering things and making good decisions. Getting your seven to eight hours per night is highly recommended.
5. Focus On One Thing At A Time
A study from 2009 shows that heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli. Multitaskers also performed worse on a test of task-switching. As it turns out, multitaskers are just more distracted.
If you want to get more done, do one thing at a time. Your concentration will improve, and ultimately, you’ll be more productive. My inbox is usually the biggest distraction that causes me to jump from one task to another so I make sure my phone notifications are off and my inbox is closed when I am working on big tasks.
6. Take Planned Breaks
Some people like to avoid distractions and get into a flow state while working. This makes a lot of sense on paper and when it’s crunch time I have been in danger of getting too in the zone. As it turns out, brief diversions can improve focus and performance, according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Don’t forget to take a few quick breaks throughout your workday. Just make sure they are planned at intervals and not too long.
7. Power Nap
You would think sleeping on the job is a terrible idea. Typically, this would be viewed as a blatant act of defiance in the workplace. But according to a studyconducted by Vern Baxter and Steve Kroll-Smith, more employers are encouraging employees to take naps. As companies empowered their employees to nap, their overall productivity increased. Napping may not be the norm for you or your team, but it might be worth considering adding it to your routine or company culture.
8. Go For Walks
A 2014 study from Stanford University demonstrated the value of going for walks. Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz found that participants who were walking – versus sitting – came up with 60% more unique responses to stimuli.
If you’re trying to solve a difficult problem, or if you’re beginning to feel a little tired, going for a walk might be an excellent way to stimulate creative thinking and come up with better solutions to the problems you’re encountering. In case you were thinking of staying inside and walking on a treadmill, think again, walking outside is better for creativity.
While productivity hacks can appear counterintuitive by taking you away from your work, the long term benefits of taking care of yourself physically and mentally will make you more productive in the long run.