Over the last year or so I have been experimenting with various measures to improve my productivity and I thought I would share some of the things that have worked for me.
1. No Social Media, Email or News in the Mornings
This is one of those things that I used to hear a lot of other people recommending but I did not try this myself until recently.
I used to find myself getting out of bed, turning on talk radio and reading my email/social media notifications and would find myself wondering why I would feel terrible!
The truth is none of this stuff is important or indeed urgent but it still uses up mental energy and drains our reserves.
Since I have stopped doing this I feel much more productive in the mornings and I actually find my mood is better too even though I’m not really a morning person.
Currently I’m also trying to add in the extra rule of only checking devices and email at fixed times — this has proven to be a little harder though!
2. No Computer/Connected Devices Before Bed
This one is a little bit harder as the temptation to check your phone or tablet is very strong.
We seem to have been programmed by modern society to need constant stimulation.
Mental stimulation before bed is known to make it harder to get off to sleep.
Further the light stimulation from such devices (particularly the blue spectrum) may affect sleep by modifying melatonin levels.
I am trying to maintain a 2 hour buffer before bed — it is not easy but does seem to help.
At the times when I have managed to stick to this (quite a lot this year) I seem to get off to sleep quicker and have less interruptions.
3. Mindful Meditation
I’m not really a morning person but the first thing I do now when I wake up is a 5 minute meditation.
It is a very basic mindfulness practice where I focus and concentrate on my breathing whilst also letting my thoughts come and go without resistance.
The aim is to be a neutral observer of your own thoughts. If something feels stressful or difficult to deal with, you focus more on your breathing, taking slow steady breaths.
It definitely makes a difference for me — I feel “lighter” if that makes any sense — the best thing is it takes little time or effort to do and the more you do it the easier it is to snap into that meditative state.
I also use little moments to top up my mindfulness when I am waiting for things. For example if I am in a queue at the post office to collect a parcel, if I am waiting in a clinic — I use all these opportunities to concentrate on my breathing and be mindful.
I see it as a form of mental recharging.
If you are not familiar with mindfulness please check out my previous post on it for some useful resources.
4. Take a Walk
In addition to meditation one thing which I found really useful to do when I am frustrated, tired or stuck on something is to go and take a quick walk.
Oftentimes I find it helps to clarify my thoughts and it can be conducive to a form of mindfulness in itself.
Just 5–10 minutes can be enough to make a big difference.
I find it works best if I do it outdoors but if it is raining then doing it indoors is still better than nothing.
5. Avoid Watching Live TV
It is so easy to just sit down in front of the TV and waste several hours. I have done it myself many times in the past.
It is unlikely you will miss some televisual masterpiece if you avoid this given the myriad of ways we can consume content.
If there is something I really want to watch I DVR it or stream it.
The other added advantage of this is that I don’t have to watch adverts and I can avoid the mainstream news.
The end result is less irritation and negativity in my life. I also have more mental energy to focus on the things I enjoy doing and which make me feel good.
I watch much less TV nowadays and I have more time to concentrate on things that are useful like reading and exercise.
6. Take a Shower
This may seem like an odd thing to suggest but I find that some of my best thoughts and ideas come to me in the shower!
I believe this may be similar to walking, in that focussed activity (which does not require an extreme cognitive burden) allows creativity to emerge.
I have heard others talk of having similar insights and ideas while washing dishes or ironing.
I think the key is that it is a repetitive task that allows your mind to wander.
These are some of the main productivity tricks that have worked for me over the last year or so.
I would love to hear your thoughts: –
Have you tried anything similar yourself?
Perhaps you have even used the same methods?
Please let me know in the comments.
Thank you for reading
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Originally published at medium.com