In this fast-paced world, where instant results and the constant presence of mind and energy are required every step of the way, we often neglect our health and wellbeing. The stress of completing work can also lead us to multitask or fall into the trap of procrastination. Perfectionism, micro-managing, and overemphasizing one task over others can cause undue stress and pressure.
Without proper mental and physical health, the quality of our work tends to deteriorate and we fall into a cycle of improper work, backlogs, stress, lifestyle diseases, and strains in our relationships. Even though organisations promote a healthy work-life balance, sometimes work does come in the way of achieving this.
So, is there anything we can do to ensure better work productivity?
Absolutely. Here’s how.
Strategies to Increase Work Productivity
You can start by implementing change and creating a balance between work, home, and your personal time. There are lifestyle changes that we can try and work with to see the transformation in our work, health, and relationships.
A good diet provides us with proper nutrition, and energy, improves metabolism, and also protects our mental health such as cognition (thinking, reasoning, memory), mood, keeping disorders away, and stress management. Brain foods such as dark chocolates, eggs, nuts and seeds, fruits, and green vegetables help in improving cognition, reducing chances of cognitive decline as you age, and also help in neural connectivity and functioning. Whole grains and legumes have enough protein and carbohydrates to increase energy at work and maintain the energy throughout the day. The balance is however to eat when we are actually hungry and eat a balanced diet. When we eat under stress we crave unhealthy processed foods aka comfort food which can lead to a variety of lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and so on. When we overeat our body is unable to digest the food properly and we feel lethargic and sleepy.
Exercise can boost mood and also keep us active and healthy. It can be aerobic exercise, yoga, and meditation, strength training, or a mix of these. We should take an hour out every day and dedicate that time to get up, get out, and get moving. When we exercise a protein known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is released which is said to improve work productivity by helping us remain alert and aware of our surroundings. When we are alert and active we are able to focus on the work at hand and are able to complete it better and faster. Exercise also produces the neurotransmitter serotonin which makes us feel happy and positive, helps deal with stress, and reduces the chances of developing disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Sleep is a vital part of leading a healthy life. Sleep is the only time our body gets to repair itself. Sleep also helps in rejuvenating our body. When we sleep our blood pressure reduces, and there is an increase in neural connectivity which improves cognitive functions like memory formation and retention, attention and concentration, and higher-order thinking. Sleep also releases hormone production which improves the immune system functioning. This helps in keeping diseases and illnesses away. Sleep helps us feel active and energetic in the morning, it improves our mood and can also allow for better time management. All these help in improving our productivity and performance at work.
4. Time management
Time management is an important life skill. Planning the day and prioritizing work can help reduce stress and prevent overwork. Communication between groups and using technology and planners can help us understand work and schedule things properly. Setting a time limit for finishing tasks helps reduce perfectionism (the tendency to do any task perfectly) as well as the chances of multitasking. Multitasking may seem helpful but doing too many things at once confuses the brain, decreases productivity and makes us tired faster, and increases stress. It is also important to give ourselves breaks in between so that the mind cools down, and we can think of other ways to tackle problems and rest our eyes and body.
5. Reduce distractions
Planning our day, knowing how much work we have to do, limiting interruptions as much as we can from people, and removing temptations such as phones, TV, food, etc can help us focus on the work at hand. Giving ourselves a break is important as well. Our brains aren’t equipped to work for too long. We get tired and bored and often turn to our gadgets as a means of distraction. Finding good ways to take a break is also important. We can go out for a walk, communicate and discuss things with our colleagues, or use a timer and take a 10-minute power nap and then get back to work. By reducing distractions we have more time on our hands and this reduces the tendency to procrastinate or multi-task to finish work.
Implementing these strategies can help us organize and sort out our work, and help us manage our time so that we can spend it equally on our work and our personal lives. By incorporating a nutritious diet, good sleep of 7-9 hours, and a workout routine we can increase our productivity, and health and be active and disease free.