- Plan your day the night before and review it in the morning: the end of a workday is a great time to pause, take a deep breath, and reflect on your priorities for the next day. Set a clear intention and remember that success is less about efficiency and more about effectiveness. Work on the right things first, then focus on efficiency.
- Take advantage of the ‘Focus’ feature on your phone: we are able to multitask, but not able to multi-focus. When we get distracted, the time to get dialed-in to what we were previously doing adds up. The American Psychological Association warns that repeated distractions can make us over 25% less productive.
- Take regular breaks in between: studies show that the optimal break to work time is about 45 minutes of work followed by a brief break. The Pomodoro Technique is another method that has become popular, i.e., 25 minutes work sessions with 5-minute breaks, with a longer break after 3-4 work sessions.
- Plan meals consciously with food choices for brain power: how we eat affects how we think. Try to avoid the post-massive meal crash by keeping meal portions reasonable. As Michael Pollan reminds us, ‘Eat less and mostly plants.’ Focus on colorful plants loaded with carotenoids and flavonoids (both classes of antioxidants that help slow mental decline), such as red onions, carrots, beets, and purple cabbage.
- Stay active to be proactive: it’s often said that if you want to get a task done, give it to a busy person. Activity in every modality is energizing. Keeping our minds and our bodies active creates an environment of possibility. The dopamine hit and serotonin rush involved with getting things done motivate us to keep on keeping on.
- Prioritize and group your tasks: when are you most productive? Oftentimes creative tasks are best tackled in the morning. More tedious and repetitive tasks can be great fillers when you are less inspired and don’t want to think as intensely. Find what works for you and plan accordingly.
- Have healthy sleep habits: sleep is everything. Don’t get lured into the panacea of early morning productivity if it means sacrificing sleep. Sleep. Is. Everything. It keeps the mind sharp and the body vital. Don’t eat too late, black out your room, keep your phone in airplane mode, and have a wind down routine. These few tips can make all the difference.
And when in doubt…
Pause. Breathe, And quiet the NOISE.