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How to Increase Your Productivity Like a Boss



Lack concentration, focus, and productivity? Have the attention span of a two-month-old Jack Russell terrier? 

No worries. Commit to crushing these "how-to's" and you could turn your life around completely. At the very least, you should find your productivity vastly improved. 

These easy-to-master habits can also help you manage distractions and bust stress.

It makes sense that if you want to improve your mind, a good place to start would be examining the ways you start and end your day. You will also need to change a few things at work. Let's dig in.

Contents

1. Make for Magical Mornings
     1.1 Rise with the Sun
     1.2 Seize the Moment
     1.3 Start with CBD
2. Win at Work
     2.1 Swallow a Live Frog in the Morning
     2.2 Don't Juggle Tasks
     2.3 Ditch That To-Do List
     2.4 Clean up Your Act
     2.5 Curb Social Media Habits
3. Get Enough Sleep
4. In Conclusion

Make for Magical Mornings

Most people will report reduced productivity when their mood is low.

What you do in the morning sets the mood for the rest of the day. It can make the difference between you being energized and focused or an "I'm-just-surviving" kind of day. 

No matter what—most people will report reduced productivity when their mood is low. So, eliminate blue Mondays forever with these few habits and consciously create your own kind of magic every day. You should witness improvements almost immediately.

1.1 Rise with The Sun

Get up together with the sun to honor your body's built-in clock.

Unless you have uncommon work hours or are naturally a very early riser, get up together with the sun. This way, you'll be honoring your body's own built-in clock (also called its "circadian rhythm") and avoid feeling like you just traveled across two time zones. 

When you get up may also affect your mental health, a recent study demonstrated.

Reports Louise Vennells for The Harvard Gazette:

A large-scale genomic analysis has revealed some of the inner workings of the body clock, shedding new light on how it links to mental health and disease.

The study, published in Nature Communications, suggests that being genetically programmed to rise early may lead to greater well-being and a lower risk of schizophrenia and depression. However, despite much previous speculation, the results did not reveal any strong links to diseases such as diabetes or obesity. [1]

It also highlighted the key role of the retina in helping the body to realign with the 24-hour cycle. It seems the body uses light to "reset" its circadian rhythms.

The author furthermore reminds us that our body clocks are influenced not only by our genetic makeup, but also by lifestyle factors including diet, exposure to artificial light, and our jobs and activities.

1.2 Seize the Moment

Changing your facial expression can modulate the body's stress response.

Your day starts the moment you open your eyes. However, the whole day's mood can depend on what you do in the next few minutes!

  • First—DON'T automatically reach for your smartphone. Trust us on this—the likelihood of the world still rotating on its axis is 100%. Take the first 15 minutes to focus on you instead.
  • Immediately drink a glass of water that you had put next to your bed the previous night.
  • Now allow yourself to wake up slowly and gather your thoughts. To help make this exercise meaningful, study mindfulness techniques to become aware of your body, your state of mind, and the way you feel in the moment. This need not take a lot of time—10 minutes are enough.
  • Then, even if just for a second, think of something that makes you smile. If you really cannot find anything funny to grin about, a fake one will do the trick too, it appears.

Because one study looked at how changing your facial expression can modulate the body's stress response. Think "grin and bear" or "fake it till you make it."

The results were interesting. 

Generally, smiling had no consistent impact on the stress reactivity of participants as compared to non-smilers across cardiovascular outcomes and tasks. 

On the other hand, smiling showed widespread effects on cardiovascular recovery, with the smiling groups, regardless of awareness or type of smile, consistently returning closer to baseline levels of cardiovascular activity at the end of the recovery periods following both stress tasks. [2]

This means that if you wake up feeling immediately stressed about the day ahead, pulling your face muscles into a grin for a while could reduce this. If your thoughts are leaning more toward good, positive, and optimistic, you will immediately feel an increase in your energy levels.

This, in turn, will make it easier for you to focus and concentrate during the day.

RELATED: Improve Your Life with 10 Minutes of Mindfulness

1.3 Start with CBD

If you battle anxiety or depression, a few drops of CBD oil in your morning coffee could make a big difference.

Especially if you battle anxiety or depression, a few drops of flavored cannabidiol (CBD) oil in your morning coffee or herbal tea could make a big difference. (Or swallow a CBD oil capsule, if you don't like the taste.)

CBD's antidepressant and anxiolytic properties are well documented. [3]

RELATED: How to Use CBD Hemp Oil for Anxiety

Users testify that taking a low dose twice a day effectively lifts these potentially debilitating moods, so it's worth giving it a try. CBD can be taken together with antidepressants and other prescription medicine, but do this only under medical supervision.

Do your research and source a good CBD oil.

RELATED: CBD Dosage 101: What You Need to Know

Oh, and make your bed every morning. That's your first task of every day, and if you don't get to do everything you planned to—at least you accomplished that.

2. Win at Work

Now, a few tips to increase productivity and beat distractions and stress at the office.

2.1 Swallow a Live Frog in the Morning...

Developing this habit is the key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity.

Mark Twain is popularly but incorrectly attributed with this famous quote. The words were actually credited to an author called Nicolas Chamfort, a personality and social climber from back in the 1850s. In a collection of essays, he wrote about a Mr. de Lassay (Chamfort's mouthpiece), saying: 

de Lassay, a very indulgent man, but with a great knowledge of society, said that we should swallow a toad every morning, in order to fortify ourselves against the disgust of the rest of the day, when we have to spend it in society. [4]

Paraphrased, it says that you should swallow a live frog first thing in the morning. That way, you ensure that you won't be doing anything more disgusting that day.

Over the centuries, the quote evolved to mean that you should complete your most unpleasant and/or most crucial task first thing in the morning. Or that important task that is most likely to be pushed back if you don't pay attention to it.

According to motivational speaker Brian Tracy, developing this habit is the key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity. [5]

2.2 Don't Juggle Tasks

The research says that multitasking slows your productivity.

Multitasking is often romanticized as a demonstration of great competence at work, but research disagrees. In an article by the American Psychology Association, the author opens with:

Doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity. [6]

They go on to explain that psychologists who study what happens to mental processes when people try to perform more than one task at a time have found that the mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. 

The research says that this slows your productivity down by almost 40%. So just don't. 

2.3 Ditch That To-Do List

Ultra-productive people live and work from their calendar instead.

Contrary to popular opinion, to-do lists are a waste of time, according to Kevin Kruse writing for Forbes. [11]

Kruse interviewed 200 super-successful and productive people, and he discovered that their secret to time management was not keeping a task list close. Apparently, ultra-productive people live and work from their calendar instead.

Therefore, everything is put into a schedule. One of Kruse's interviewees, Chris Ducker, is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and host of The New Business Podcast. He says about his calendar:

I simply put everything on my schedule. That's it. Everything I do on a day-to-day basis gets put on my schedule ... Bottom line, if it doesn't get scheduled it doesn't get done.

Convert your to-do list into a schedule to become more productive.

Kruse sums up what he gleaned from his research:

  • Successful people spend only as much time as is necessary for each task. Their "default time" is 15 minutes. Kruse comments: 

When your default setting is 15 minutes, you’ll automatically discover that you can fit more tasks into each day.

  • Time-block the most important things in your life first, he furthermore advises. This means you need to know what matters most to you in every area of your life and prioritize accordingly. (This step should ideally precede all the others, as you will need to think carefully to complete this one. Rework this as often as necessary.)
  • As said—schedule every single thing. For instance, instead of checking text messages every few minutes, schedule two or three times a day to take care of this task. So basically, it means that you convert your to-do list into a schedule. Then stick with it fanatically. If your priorities are straight, you will find that you become more and more productive, and your time will be much better utilized.

2.4 Clean up Your Act

Go minimalist and neat at the office, and stay focused.

Your mom will love this.

Visual scenes are cluttered and contain many different objects. However, the capacity of the visual system to process information about multiple objects at any given moment in time is limited. [7]

In practical terms, this research-backed report by Princeton neuroscientists says that a disorganized workspace confuses your brain and slows down your cognitive processes. Go minimalist and neat at the office, and stay focused.

2.5 Curb Your Social Media Habits

Add social media to your schedule. That way, it probably won't gobble up your life.

We all spend a lot of time on social media, but we don't think we do. Yet the truth is shocking. The latest statistics indicate that the average American will spend six years and eight months on social media in a lifetime. And that was the projection in 2019...which was 63 percent higher than the stats of 2018. [8]

By all means, add it to your schedule. That way, social media probably won't gobble up your life.

3. Get Enough Sleep

The effects on the brain of not getting enough (or good-quality) sleep are unsettling. Writing for the brain health Dana Foundation, Moheb Costandi, M.Sc., explains: [9]

We have all had late or sleepless nights, and most of us probably consider this to be completely harmless, even though we know from experience that losing sleep has dramatic effects on our mental abilities and well-being. 

Sleep deprivation makes us moody and irritable, and impairs brain functions ... It also negatively impacts the rest of the body—it impairs the functioning of the immune system, for example, making us more susceptible to infection.

He also discusses research that indicates how sleep deprivation prevents the brain from disposing of waste products. This process occurs as a normal part of aging, but also in neurodegenerative diseases.

Another study of the sleep-deprived brain notes that lack of sleep not only impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision making. [10]

So the logic is simple—if the brain isn't healthy and alert, productivity (and more) will suffer.

These alarming facts alone should inspire you to reach for your CBD oil tonight. The cannabinoid is well known for its ability to fight off insomnia and to ensure a good night's rest. A heftier dose than the one you take in the morning (and maybe through the day) will probably be necessary.

Lack of sleep not only impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects long-term memory and decision making.

RELATED: How to Use CBD for Better-Quality Sleep

Other tips for a good night's rest include:

  • Taking a warm bath (with Epsom salts!) or showering before you go to bed. 
  • Splashing a few drops of lavender on your pillow. It's the essential oil for soothing and calming a busy, overstimulated mind.
  • Reading a book you know will bore you to...well, sleep. Don't watch that horror or action movie on your Netflix watch list. 
  • Writing about your day in a diary. Discussing your problems and thoughts with yourself can be very decompressing, even therapeutic.

Splashing a few drops of lavender on your pillow can soothe and calm a busy, overstimulated mind.

RELATED: Cure Sleep Problems by Naturally Increasing Melatonin

In Conclusion

It's important to keep in mind that you're forging new habits. So, go easy on yourself, but persist. That's the secret of any successful person.

The changes might not appear as quickly as you would prefer, but changing behavior is not as simple as making coffee. If you stick faithfully with these tips, you should find that your productivity and concentration improve steadily but surely.

Sources:

  1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2019/01/benefits-of-being-an-early-riser-vs-a-night-owl/
  2. https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/handle/1808/7903
  3. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf
  4. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/04/03/eat-frog/
  5. https://www.njlifehacks.com/eat-that-frog-brian-tracy-summary/
  6. https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask
  7. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/2/587.full#ref-9
  8. https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/average-daily-time-on-social-media
  9. https://www.dana.org/article/the-sleep-deprived-brain/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/
  11. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2015/07/10/to-do-lists-time-management/#4261e4984413

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