Productivity is a huge trend. Online guides and to-do articles are teaching you how to achieve more work in less time. The University of California offers an online course that’s supposed to get you more productive. At the end of the day, people are still not as productive as they would want to be. They are busy, but not productive.
When you’re trying to get the work done ASAP, you’re usually repeating to yourself: “Get back to work. You need to do this. No excuses!” Self-talk is effective, but it’s not a productivity strategy. If you want to improve your overall productivity, waiting for a huge workload and forcing yourself to do the job would be a mistake.
It’s time to turn to science. In March 2016, the Journal of Nursing Management published the results of research that showed the positive correlation between organizational culture and productivity of nurses. When they were not subjected to mobbing, they performed better. This recent study can serve as an inspiration: maybe science has the answer to your productivity troubles.
We suggest research-backed productivity strategies that will answer the question you have in mind: “how can I get really productive?”
1. Can you do more work when you sleep less?
Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to productivity. It’s simple: when you don’t get enough sleep, you feel sleepy. That state of being results with general fatigue and lack of motivation. In other words – you are getting less productive. According to research published by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. When your body and mind are deprived from sleep, they will demand the debt to be repaid.
If you have too much work to do for the day, it’s okay to wake up one hour earlier than usual. It’s not okay to repetitively spend sleepless nights with the hope that you’ll get everything done if you burn yourself out. The strategy that does work is getting enough sleep every single night. When you get enough rest, you’ll be ready to seize the day.
2. Is there a productivity pattern?
Are people really more productive during particular periods of the day, or are productivity patterns a pure myth? In the early 1930’s, Nathaniel Kleitman, a pioneer in the field of sleep medicine, noticed patterns in the speed and accuracy of people’s cognitive performance. Kleitman discovered the basic 90-minute rest-activity cycle of sleep, during which people progressively move through the five stages of sleep. However, he also observed that people operated by the same 90-minute rhythm throughout the day. The body and mind work according to an ultradian rhythm.
Your body knows when it needs rest. It sends you clear signs, so you’ll know when you’re losing focus. Instead of pumping up your energy with food and caffeine, you should try taking a rest and organizing your day according to your own productivity rhythm.
3. Is your urge to check Twitter every now and then affecting your productivity?
It sure is. Scientists proved that every time your brain processes new information, it releases dopamine – a neurotransmitter that acts on the sympathetic nervous system and leads to increased blood pressure and heart rate. Dopamine is addictive, and it motivates you to seek out the behavior that activates it. As a result, you find yourself spending more and more time on social media, clicking links and looking for more information.
Social media platforms are not safe for work. Try to avoid them as much as possible, even during breaks. Every time you log in, your brain takes in more facts, stories, images, and other information, and it gets distracted from the work.
Here is an effective strategy that will make you more productive: use StayFocusd or a similar browser extension that prevents you from accessing distracting sites during working hours. Freedom is an app that works in a similar way, with the difference that it makes your tablet and smartphone distraction-free.
4. Is negative self-talk going to work?
Research published in 2014 suggests that using the word “I” when talking to yourself is more likely to bring stress than self-love and acceptance. You already endure high levels of stress when you’re facing deadlines and you’re trying to achieve greater levels of productivity, so the last thing you need is additional, self-imposed stress through negative self talk.
When you turn this scientific data into a real world example, it turns out that instead of saying “I have to get this done,” you should try constructions like “This file should be ready by 5 pm.”
5. Is great workload making you more productive?
On the contrary. Research from 2014 revealed that overload was one of the most important factors that decreased productivity. It makes sense: overworked leads to overwhelmed. When people realize they have just enough time to complete all tasks on the schedule, they get motivated to do the work. In the other scenario, when the complexity and number of tasks on the daily lists do not correspond to the time they have at hand, they get overwhelmed and less productive.
You already know the solution to excessive workload: don’t accept more tasks than you can complete. If you have several important projects to work on, start as early as possible and don’t procrastinate!
Bringing It All Together: The Right Approach Will Make You More Productive
It’s not easy to carry the burden of unfinished tasks on your shoulders. You know you have to get things done, but the stress of the workload is causing you to procrastinate. The first thing you need to do is: relax! Remember: science proves that your productivity goes down when you’re stressed out. Then, rely on some of the science-backed productivity hacks that will lead you to better results.
Kate Simpson is a professional writer and editor. She works for coursework writing service where she is a senior content creator for various projects and also manages an editing team.