3 Surprising Tips to Improve Productivity

Take regular breaks when you need them

It’s common to think that taking a break during work hours is equal to you being less productive or at least people thinking you’re being less productive! However, research shows that taking a break can be beneficial for you and your work. A relationship between taking micro-breaks, lunchtime and longer breaks have shown a positive impact on wellbeing and productivity.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved mental well-being
  • Creativity boost
  • To reduce or prevent stress
  • Not needing as long at the end of the day to recover

One study looked at the importance of mini breaks throughout the working day, taking as little as a couple of minutes to get a drink. One technique to try is the Pomodoro Technique:

  • Pick one project or task you want to focus on.
  • Set a timer for 25-30 minutes and focus on that task.
  • When the timer sounds take a five minute break.
  • Repeat.
  • After four sessions take a longer break (15-30 mins).
  • Record each session with a tick in your notebook.

Including these short breaks allows the brain to rejuvenate, giving you another burst of mental stamina each time.

Listen to the right music

Music can be a great way to boost your motivation, stay entertained and block out background noise and distractions. However finding the right music to keep you focused on your work is key. Some music can be a distraction and hinder your performance, it can affect your productivity level and it can change your mood. Its important to match the nature of the task you are trying to perform with the nature of the music.

Here are some tips for what music to pick:

  • No lyrics– words can be distracting when you’re trying to write or read.
  • New music to you – so you are not subconsciously humming along.
  • Match the tempo to the work – fast tempo, upbeat music, to increase energy, mood, and speed. Relaxing, repetitive, background music to enhance performance on cognitive tasks, aid relaxation and reduce stress.

Classical music is a great choice as it rarely contains lyrics and there is a huge range to suit every mood, but its what works for you personally and what motivates you.

Cut the perfectionism!

Productivity is not about getting more done but the time and effort it takes to get what you need to done. Many may see perfectionism as a positive. However perfectionism can get in the way of achieving your goals.

Area’s perfectionist can struggle with:

  1. Designating decisions that are ‘unimportant’ – Perfectionist can find it hard to categorise any decision or task as unimportant. They like to be in control, as imperfections bother them more than the average person. If something goes wrong, a perfectionist can feel intense frustration, irritation, and guilt and they do not want to take that risk.

Try – Reframing the way you are thinking about delegating. Concentrate on how good it feels to not have to make that decision or complete that task.

  1. Needing to overdeliver – Believing that you need to beat expectations and be the best. This could be because you think the only way to prevent someone from being disappointed is to exceed expectations. It can be driven by anxiety, insecurity, or imposter syndrome. Overall, it is not helpful to productivity.

Try – Plan the basics of what you need to achieve for the task to be complete. Take note when you are going beyond what you need to achieve and try to get back to your plan. Think of where else you could use this extra time, attention, and energy, such as your family and friends or a hobby.  If you feel anxious, you can calm your thoughts using deep breathing techniques. There is a genuine physiological response that commands the mind and body to relax.

  1. Extreme frustration when you don’t achieve your goals – This usually happens because of one of the following: you take on more than you can achieve, avoid doing the goal or habit unless they are sure they can achieve it to their high standard, procrastination or only take on goals you know you can achieve.

Try – Check yourself, is what you are spending time on useful to your goals or are you only doing something because it’s a habit you have set yourself that is no longer necessary.

Perfectionism is motivated by striving for excellence, but generally goes hand in hand with self-sabotaging behaviours. It’s better for a task to be completed than to be perfect. If you are a perfectionist, ask yourself, how many times have I achieved something to perfection? It’s unlikely you have ever met your own standards. So be kinder on yourself and focus on getting the job done.

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