Many people see productivity nirvana as working dilligently for 10 hours straight on our to-do lists, and completing each and every task. Although I myself have had many a sweet dream to this image, it’s a pretty lofty goal. Can we really do that? I’d argue that we can’t, at least not without taking a hit on our mind.
You see, in order to be truly productive, you have to have a clear mind. And do you know what makes clarity? That’s right: giving you mind a chance to rest. You can’t lift weights for 5 hours straight, He-Man. The same principle is true for your mind. Not only does overdoing it not help, it actually hurts you.
A taxed mind is one of the biggest roadblocks to productivity. So let’s have a look at some ways to get some mental “tax breaks”, (’cause Lord knows we ain’t gettin ’em from the Man anytime soon), and take back control of our worn-out psyche.
Get More Sleep!
I know I keep beating this into the ground, but it really really does make a difference. Not only does sleep recharge your body and at the very least keep you healthy, it also gives your mind a chance to rest. Literally. If your mind hasn’t been recharged when the day has started, you’re already 2 steps behind.
If you’re finding yourself getting a little sleepy in the afternoons, take a 15-30 minute power nap. Studies have shown that 20 minutes in the afternoon provide more rest than 20 minutes in the morning. (That was the sound of your snooze button breathing a sigh of relief.)
There’s plenty more benefits of sleep if you’re still curious.
Although I find music sometimes a hinderence when I’m working, when I’m driving or doing some mindless task it’s sometimes quite beneficial. But for me, the only real music that doesn’t distract me is jazz or classical. Wordless music seems to work best, but everyone has their preference. What’s important is that it adds a little something in the background, but shouldn’t be something that you’ll focus on too much. It’s just kind of there.
I can be driving in the car with Duke in the background and it’s like my brain is kicking-back in a hot tub. We’re talking reeee-laxed. And oddly enough, I often get some of my best ideas this way.
Switchin’ It Up
One of the best ways to give your mind a break is to switch up your tasks. I can type on something for 30 minutes, get up and do a load of dishes, and come right back feeling quite refreshed. Not to mention that I’ll probably still be working on what I’m typing subconsciously, while I do the dishes. This way my productivity doesn’t take a hit, and I’m still finishing those “tasks”.
Switching it up may mean switching locations too. Work at a coffee shop, run an errand, do something outside, it doesn’t matter. The change of location is a breath of fresh air to your stale workspace.
Variety is the spice of life, and you shouldn’t skimp on it.
Do Something Fun, Dadgummit!
In case you missed the post on filling your tank, the main thrust of the article is this: Do Something Fun! It’ll actually increase your productivity because you’ll be more refreshed later. Taking breaks is just as (if not more) important than the work.
“Breaks” can take many forms, and the only mandatory thing is that you enjoy it. If you have a job behind a desk, give your legs a stretch by doing something active. Try your hand at belly dancing, or grape peeling. If you’re in the manual labor biz, plop your keister into a chair for a bit. The important thing is to just do what feels good (within the legal realm of course).