How to be more productive at work (with the help of science) | CV-Library

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Are you struggling to be more productive at work? Perhaps you can’t really concentrate and constantly find your mind wandering. Or maybe you’re just looking to boost your efficiency in order to take your career to the next level.

Either way, it’s important to manage it; especially if other people are starting to notice. It can be particularly frustrating if your boss says you aren’t getting enough done – you want to come across as hard-working, after all!

Another reason for wanting to improve in this area might be because you’re struggling with your workload; but, by upping the intensity of your work levels, you’ll avoid having to work longer hours.

Time and time again we see articles on how to be more productive at work. Well, we’ve done our research and found the science behind all these neat tips and tricks, proving to you exactly how you can master your productivity levels.

Set a strong sleep routine

Willpower is an exhaustible resource. When you have no mental energy left, your motivation levels are going to slump and it’ll make it nearly impossible to be more productive. This little process is called ego depletion and one way to combat it is by getting into a regular sleep pattern to ensure you get enough rest.

One of the ways your body regulates sleep is through light. When there’s a lack of light, your body responds by producing melatonin which makes you drowsy.

So, it’s no wonder you can’t get any shut eye if it’s midnight and you’ve been binge-watching Netflix aimlessly for the past few hours. The light from your device is preventing your melatonin levels from rising enough to make you sleepy.

If you’re staying up all night playing video games or watching TV, this will throw your sleeping pattern well out of whack. In order to be more productive at work, you need rest. So, be sure to catch some Zzzs and get yourself into a good sleep routine.

Take part in regular exercise

You’re likely to boost your mental health if you exercise regularly. This is because it stimulates the production of serotonin and endorphins, AKA happy chemicals.

An exercise routine also enhances your body’s ability to transfer oxygen and glucose around the brain; this means that over time, your cognitive function will improve. This will result in more focus, alertness and ultimately, being more productive at work.

If you’ve had a hard day at the office, you might find that a heavy gym session or a brisk walk home after work will free you from your stress. Exercise increases the production of norepinephrine, which helps moderate your brain’s response to stress. This is perfect for keeping productivity levels high in an intense environment.

What’s more, if you find yourself regularly reaching for the wine as a stress-reliever when you get in from work, exercise can help control this habit.

Your brain releases dopamine as a response to pleasure. That’s why we feel calmer when we’ve had a bevvy or some chocolate. But alcohol can tamper with our circadian clocks and make us feel worse the next day. Not what you want when you’ve got a full-time job to tend to!

Exercise also releases dopamine and a short workout can, in fact, help curb that alcohol craving and restart that body clock of yours to get a decent night’s sleep. Everything you need to keep that productivity rate high!

Eat right

We’re all far too familiar with the afternoon slump; we slip sleepily into our carb-comas after eating our lunch, even if you have had a productive lunch break. Even though our circadian rhythms cause a slight dip in energy between 1pm and 3pm, you need to make sure you’re eating the right food at lunchtime to stay fuelled. That way, you’ll ensure you’re always productive at work; no matter the time of day.

Aim for a healthy balance of carbs like brown rice, lots of green leaves and lean protein for an all-round health kick. Don’t panic, we know it can be pretty tricky to slot directly into a clean-eating lifestyle. But there are some foods you should probably avoid for a start.

For one, you may want to rethink the fast-food lunch. Fat might taste good and give you some lasting fuel, but too much is harsh on the stomach. Sugar gives a burst of energy, but quickly results in a crash. So, unfortunately, those sweets you bought from town on your lunch break are not a good idea if you want to stay focused all afternoon.

If you’re looking for that afternoon pick-me-up, here are a few favourites to keep you performing at your best:

  • Almonds and walnuts Look forward to a brainpower boost too as they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamin E and amino acids
  • Avocado With more oxygen to the brain from this superfood, you’ll be much more productive at work. Yay!
  • Carrots They keep your brain function at a steady pace as they break down glucose slowly due to their low glycaemic index
  • Greek yoghurt There’s a tonne of protein, probiotics and minerals running through this creamy deliciousness; keeping your digestive system running smoothly

Drink water regularly

It won’t come as a shock that drinking water regularly is extremely beneficial. The key word here though is ‘regularly’. Do you find that you end up chugging a glass of water at lunch because you suddenly realise how thirsty you are? That’s bad! You should aim to have few sips every 15 minutes or so.

Regular water intake not only keeps fatigue at bay, but it helps with digestion, improves our state of mind, cures headaches without the use of painkillers and reduces the chances of getting headaches at all!

The NHS suggests you drink 6-8 glasses a day, so why not buy a measured bottle and track your progress! You’ll be more productive at work in no time.

Create a to-do list and prioritise

There are very few people who can survive as a working professional without a to-do list. But are you writing your to-do list correctly?

Firstly, remember that crossing off lots of tasks doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been productive. Of course, crossing things off makes us feel like we’ve achieved something. But we’re tricking ourselves here. Rather than seeking validation by completing menial jobs, you need to focus on the bigger tasks at hand.

Organise everything you need to do in order of priority. If you write these before you head home from work, you can get on with them as soon as you get in the following morning. This will also stop you from procrastinating and you’ll be more productive with your time as a result.

Keep your desk tidy

There’s more to keeping your desk tidy than knowing where all your paperwork is. While it’s extremely important to keep your filing under control, there are plenty of psychological benefits too.

An organised workspace can subconsciously promote healthy eating. According to one study, those working around clutter were more likely to choose a chocolate bar as a snack over those working in a tidy environment, who chose an apple.

A clean and tidy desk equals a clear mind. If you set yourself and your surroundings up correctly, you’ll certainly give yourself the best chance to be more productive at work.

Surround yourself with the right people

Sometimes it can be particularly difficult to concentrate in the office. Especially if you’ve got a colleague on your left who’s more talkative than Buddy the Elf on a sugar high; coupled with the world’s most vocally pessimistic human on your right.

If you’re being distracted, then try and have a quiet word with your neighbour. If that’s too embarrassing for you, go to your manager; they might be able to move your desk to somewhere quieter.

Alternatively, ask to move to a more positive environment. Surrounding yourself with motivational people is a simple solution to help raise your motivational vibes; a sure-fire way to becoming more productive.

Just make sure you pay attention to your immediate working-environment and see what you could improve to make the most of your productivity.

The best ways to be more productive at work

When it comes to being more productive at work, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Everyone is different; we all have our own motivators and it’s about finding what works best for you.

Of course, you can set yourself up for success through some simple steps. Eating the right foods and getting plenty of sleep each night is a good place to start. But then it’s down to you; you’ll need to work out a solid routine. With the tips in this article, you’ll be more productive at work in no time!

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Laura Slingo

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