Guest Contributed by Anna Whitehouse
Keen to be more productive?
Constantly trying to squeeze every drop out of the day could leave you feeling incredibly stressed. So what’s the solution? Read on to discover how to achieve more without sacrificing your mental health.
Learn to be present
In 2005 Arianna Huffington founded the Huffington Post. Two years later, she had collapsed due to stress and burnout. It took a breakdown to make this highly successful woman realise that she needed to slow down.
As well as starting to sleep properly, Arianna learned to be fully present in each moment. She began to appreciate the simple pleasures of life and became passionate about the connection between well being and productivity at work.
So if you need time away from the demands of work, the constant chatter of social media and a busy home life, why not find a tranquil spot in a local park or garden and experience the power of being fully present for yourself?
Once you’ve found your spot, start by drawing a deep breath and letting it out through your nose. Next, relax each part of your body and become aware of your surroundings. Feel the sun on your face, listen to the birds singing and simply enjoy being in the moment.
In our busy society, the ability to multitask is often admired. However, according to Paul Towers of Task Pigeon, “our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time. We are not like a computer where we can successfully run multiple applications simultaneously.”
While constantly switching between tasks might seem like a good idea, it actually leads to procrastination and lack of concentration. These can affect our productivity at work and our relationships with those we love.
If you want to become more productive, try tackling one thing at a time, as losing yourself in a particular task leads to creative flow. When you allow this to happen, you’ll actually complete your task more efficiently and to a higher standard.
Say no more often
Is saying yes your default setting? Then you’ll probably end up feeling resentful and stressed because you’ve taken on too many projects. If your goal is to become more productive, learning to say no is crucial, because you’ll then be able to say yes to the things you’re passionate about.
TED speaker Derek Sivers sums this up nicely with this statement: “if you’re not saying “Hell Yeah!” about something, say no.”
Saying no can be tricky to start with, but being able to set boundaries is a sign of maturity. Most people will respect the fact that you know your limits and you can always point them in the direction of someone else who might be able to help.
Write effective lists
To do lists can be very handy when it comes to being productive, but they can also cause a great deal of stress. To avoid this, we recommend prioritising each task on your list. Tasks with an impending deadline should always be placed at the top, as these need to be dealt with urgently. Non urgent but important tasks go next in line, followed by jobs that can be left for a little while.
If your list is becoming ridiculously long, delegate! Focusing on the jobs that you do best means that you’ll be able to give someone else the chance to develop their skills.
Look after yourself
At the headquarters of Arianna Huffington’s company Thrive Global; employees are encouraged to take a nap during the working day. Her mission is to prioritize the well being of her staff and promote the value of sleep:
“Studies have shown that naps boost our immune system, lower our blood pressure, increase our ability to learn, improve our memory and performance of complex tasks.”
Exercise is another excellent tool for boosting productivity and combating stress. This is because it keeps you mentally sharp and increases your energy, while also releasing endorphins.
If you’re suffering from afternoon sugar slumps at work, a diet rich in fruit, leafy green vegetables, oily fish, eggs and wholegrains will also increase your ability to concentrate.
Any change involves commitment, but if you take the time to follow our tips you’ll enjoy better mental and physical health as well as increasing your productivity.