Productivity is not always a function of how much time a day you spend working. Sometimes, working just 3-4 hours can end up being more productive than a day trying to work for more than 8 hours. This is because our abilities to focus varies from day to day, and even hour to hour. Lack of focus is one of the greatest enemies of productivity.
You can try all sorts of productivity hacks like defining your daily goals, dividing each activity into smaller tasks, and hanging a Do Not Disturb sign at your door. But some days, your physiological energy levels just don’t support a productive day. In these unfortunate days, what can you do?
How do you maintain your focus to ensure a productive day?
One of the best ways to maintain your energy levels for a productive day is to take the right vitamins and supplements, and eat the right foods. However, even if you consume the right natural energy boosters, this is only half the battle. To experience the full effectiveness of these natural concentration enhancers, you must adopt a few simple and healthy behaviors throughout the entire day. Adapt these 6 simple routines to boost your focus and get more work done today.
Exercising isn’t just good for your body, it can naturally help improve your brain’s ability to focus. For example, aerobic exercises help produce catecholamines — a type of neurotransmitter — in the body that increases concentration levels. Studies have found that physical exercise helps enhance the brain’s ability to ignore distractions. Therefore, a quick jog or even a brisk walk during break times can significantly help improve your focus. In one study, students who engaged in moderate physical exercise before taking a test had better attention spans than students who didn’t exercise
2. Getting Sufficient Sleep
Research has shown consistently that sleep deprivation has profound negative effects on cognitive function, including damaging effects on focus and memory. In addition, your ability to learn and generate new memories depends on sleep quality. Lack of sleep also hinders your brain’s ability to regulate emotions, so you might be extra stressed, impatient or irritable. All of this affects your ability to focus and be productive at work. To improve your sleep, try these simple tips:
- Keep a regular schedule.
- Give yourself enough time to wind down.
- Get plenty of light during the daytime, especially the morning.
- Avoid excessive liquids at night.
- Practice meditation or deep-breathing techniques
- Get rid of your clock.
- Get out of bed if you can’t sleep.
An extensive 7-year study showed that meditation improves your ability to focus and concentrate on work. It also suggests that meditation can keep your brain young and active. In other words, it could prevent age-related mental decline. A 2016 study published on the New York Times showed that just 3 days of mindful meditation can strengthen areas in your brain that enables you to focus and regulate stress.
4. Write It Down
While information, tasks, distractions, and responsibilities keep increasing, the space in our brains and the number of hours we have in our days remain the same. Writing things down is a simple yet powerful way to record anything and everything that has your attention. This allows you to clear your mind, and focus all your attention onto one task at a time. Writing things down also helps clarify your goals, priorities, and intentions.
Here are 5 industry leaders who write things down:
- Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group
- Oprah, former talk show host of the Oprah Winfrey Show
- Tim Ferriss, podcaster and author of The 4-Hour Workweek
- Tony Robbins, motivational speaker and author of Awaken the Giant Within
- JK Rowling, novelist and author of the Harry Potter series
When your brain isn’t busy trying to remember everything, your brain works better on other tasks – like creative work, for example. Writing things down enables a higher level of thinking, and therefore, more focused action. It is an easy yet effective way to increase productivity and deal with day-to-day tasks.
5. Noise-Canceling Headphones
These types of headphones can be extremely useful for focusing since it eliminates most outside sounds. Dr. Oz says people who have lots of noise around them have difficulties concentrating at the office or at home. By using simple tools like these to eliminate external distractions, you’ll quickly improve your concentration.
6. Change your diet
Just as food can improve your body’s energy levels and ability to function, it also has an incredible ability to affect your mental clarity, memory, and concentration. If you’re looking to boost your focus, one of the places you should start with is what you’re eating. Some foods that will help you improve your focus include:
- Green tea
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fatty fish
- Dark chocolate
- Flax seeds