The start of the workweek could only mean one thing — the commencement of the countdown to 5 p.m. on Friday. In the days between Monday and Friday, most of us will come into work with a set of goals and a renewed high work ethic that slowly starts to go downhill at the hump of the week, or Wednesday afternoon. While Thirsty Thursdays may help us get through that one day that separates us from the weekend, what can we do to boost our productivity at work — even at our laziest slump?
In a culture that’s obsessed with the notion of productivity and work hacks to get everything done in the least amount of time, finding a healthy way to boost productivity is essential. Being productive can allow us to feel accomplished with set agenda and can even give us more time to do the things we love. However, in order to do the latter, we must reassess the definition of being productive, stop multitasking, and get off YouTube with these eight scientifically proven ways to boost productivity and break us out of a lazy slump even at 9 a.m. Monday morning.
1. Rise & Shine Early
Do not hit that snooze button Monday morning. Five more minutes of sleep will be five minutes wasted in a lack of productivity. If you’re not a morning person, it’s time to sip on some java to jump-start your morning, because after all, people who get up early get more things done. A study in the journal NeuroImage found only 10 percent of people are “morning people,” so it’s time to join the elite percent and get a head start to your day.
2. Give Yourself a Strict Deadline
It’s best to set a deadline to accomplish realistic goals for yourself and write them down in order to perform better. This method even works for a population known for struggling with discipline — drug addicts. According to a University of Pennsylvania study, drug addicts who wrote down the date they started a five paragraph essay were 90 percent more likely to turn it in than those who didn’t. In comparison, a study conducted by Dan Ariely and colleagues, published in the journal Psychological Science, found college students who imposed strict deadlines on themselves for assignment did far better and were more consistent than those who didn’t. It’s time to look at your calendar and set your goals.
3. Tackle Big Problems First
Most of us can admit to doing every small, simple task possible before doing the inevitable most daunting of them all, but why? A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found the brain will stimulate real productive work by making us do small, remedial tasks to take up our time. This happens because the brain will first visualize the worst possible scenario of tackling that problem and then will do anything to stop us from getting started. Be brave and tackle your toughest problems first, head on.
4. Take More Breaks, Seriously
Although it seems counterintuitive, taking more breaks will help you become more productive and achieve your goals throughout the day. The brain is only able to remain focused for 90 minutes, and we need to rest for at least 15 minutes, according to Ultradian Rhythms — natural body cycles occurring at intervals of less than 24 hours. Based on this concept, taking breaks every 90 minutes will help you renew your mind and body for the next 90 minutes of productivity.
5. Take a Power Nap if Feasible
While most of us don’t have the luxury of taking a power nap at the office, it’s nice to know a 20-minute nap can help us relax, boost our productivity, and even prevent heart attacks. An Australian study found power naps, siestas, or nana naps have benefits to brain function, health, and even well-being. Power naps can increase memory by almost 20 percent during the remainder of the day and could improve performance on a variety of tasks.
6. Do NOT Multitask with More than Two Things
In a culture that prides itself in multitasking, it can be a difficult blow to the ego not to encourage it. Doing multiple things at once can often lead to not doing any of your tasks well. A study in Science Magazine found the brain dedicates one-half of gray matter to each task when it tries to do two things at once. The brain cannot effectively handle more than two complex activities at once.
7. Keep Noise to a Minimum
Whether you work at school, at the office, or at home, it can be difficult to keep noises to a minimum. However, a study from Cornell University found workers who were exposed to low levels of noise had higher levels of epinephrine — a hormone that helps regulate heart rate. When possible, go to a quiet room near you and focus on the task at hand, for your productivity and heart’s sake.
8. Listen to Your Kind of Music
While a quiet environment can be ideal to enhance concentration and promote productivity, researchers also say music can lift your mood and help you keep focused — except on cognitively demanding tasks. A study in JAMA found surgeons performed a task in the lab more efficiently when the music they liked was playing in the background. It’s best to choose wisely and see if this method works for you.
Your high work ethic doesn’t have to go downhill by Wednesday, you can stay productive all week long, even when you’re on a lazy slump during the hump of the week.