It happens to the best of us: There’s a deadline at work looming over your head, and you find any excuse to keep putting off the task. Or you swear you’ll clean and organize the garage on your day off, but you ditch it to hang out with a friend. No matter what you do, it may seem like there are too many distractions and you’ll never accomplish all the things you need to do.
All it takes are a few simple steps to boost your daily efficiency to get things done. Try one of these productivity-improving tips today:
Purchase a plant
It may seem silly, but two Norwegian studies showed that when desk plants are present in a working environment, people tend to be more productive.
“Most people spend a large proportion of their life at work, so even small effects may have great practical significance when aggregated over employees and time of employment,” said Ruth K. Raanaas who works at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and collaborated on both studies.
“The reason it works: When undergoing mental fatigue, it’s best to shift your attention to an indirect type of engagement, such as nature. So if you have little moments of looking up and seeing something that brings that resource back a little bit, some of those should make a huge difference,” says Rachel Kaplan, a University of Michigan psychologist.
Catch your zzzs
It’s important to get a good night’s sleep in order to be productive the next day. In fact, research published in a 2012 Journal of Vision study showed that the more sleep-deprived a person, the more slowly they were able to complete work tasks throughout the day. And, how fast and accurate a person was in the task decreased the longer people were awake. So how much sleep do you really need? While there’s no magic number, it’s important to pay attention to your body. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to be fully productive the next day.
“Only sleep can allow us to maintain or improve our performance,” says Sara C. Mednick, a sleep researcher at the University of California. “Napping gets you the same benefits to performance as a full night of sleep.”
Contrary to popular belief, your brain isn’t naturally able to handle doing multiple things at once. So while it may feel like you’re getting a lot accomplished by talking on the phone and reading an article at the same time, you may be doing more harm than good.
"These people who think that they can multitask are wrong," says Kate Wendleton, president of career coaching firm The Five O'Clock Club. "The people who are able to focus and get something done well are the people who are most productive.” A good way to ensure you don’t multitask is to prioritize your to-do list. Focus on the first goal, get it done, and continue from there. You may be surprised at how much more productive this can make you.
Wake up early
Early birds really do catch the worm. At least, according to research by Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany.
"When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards," Randler said. "[T]hey tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them. They're proactive.”
Randler asked 367 college students when they felt most energetic, and early risers more so than evening people tended to agree with statements such as "I feel in charge of making things happen" and "I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself."
Sometimes the reason behind a lack of productivity is because even when a task is accomplished, it always feels like a relentless grind, meaning there’s always something else to do. In that case, a job well done should always be compensated. So for example, if you completed your goal of 10 hours of exercise in a week, reward yourself by buying a pair of new sneakers. Or, when you finally finished that tough report at work, treat yourself to a nice meal that night. By offering yourself this kind of pick-me-up for achieving a goal, you’re giving yourself the motivation and incentive to continue to be proactive.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.