It’s physically impossible to be productive all the time, no matter how hard you try. Sooner or later, you will get tired or distracted anyway. At the same time, if you work only at the peak of productivity during the day and engage in other activities during the decline, you can manage to do more work and still get as much rest as possible. And this is possible if you work out the right schedule.
Plan to dip into the flow
It’s a common rule of thumb to set aside time slots of an hour or two during the day and not be distracted by anything. Each writer from the paper writing service calls these stretches “flow time” because it puts you in a state of creative flow. But it is important to stick strictly to your chosen rhythm and ignore any distractions or desire to get away from work.
Another useful productivity lifehack involves allocating a specific amount of time to a specific task in advance. Timeboxing encourages a person to find the most effective ways to complete tasks in an adequate amount of time. You can use a calendar to track and monitor your activity, getting notifications when it’s time to finish a task—a recent Harvard Business Review study called timeboxing a top productivity strategy.
How to know it’s time to take a break
Optimizing productivity can be done not only by scheduling work but also by taking time off. It’s important to recognize in time when it’s time to take a break and return to work later when the productive mood returns. You can focus on a number of obvious signals: unfocusedness, difficulty completing a task, and increased errors.
If you’re trying to force yourself to focus but still can’t do it, go rest immediately. But if you’re just distracted by nonsense, bored, or buried in email, you probably just need to force yourself back to work.
It’s also not unreasonable to take a break if you’re feeling anxious or stressed. Such feelings are not only detrimental to productivity but can turn into aggression directed against colleagues, even if you work remotely. Try to rest and regain your composure before you return to work.
There are times when you seem to have had enough rest but still feel tired. Such a condition is well leveled by physical activity, even if it is just a simple walk around the house. If you feel tired because you did not get enough sleep or worked long without stopping, you need to rest – by refusing to rest, you doom yourself to failure.
Another signal that it’s time to take a break is that your eyes hurt. This means you’ve been staring at a computer screen for too long. Such a symptom can develop into a headache. It’s time to get away from the monitor and, of course, the cell phone screen.
Regardless of how you feel, it’s important to take breaks every 90 or 120 minutes. It has been scientifically proven that in that amount of time, a person goes from peak activity to psychological fatigue. A quick 15-minute break will help the brain concentrate better and retain information.
The right way to rest
When it comes to rest, the most important thing here is to completely distance yourself from work. Looking at emails on the way home or having a business meeting over lunch will negate all the benefits of a break. People should devote their breaks to the activities that are right for them and most conducive to distraction and recharging. However, there are some activities that work for absolutely everyone.
Exercise. Plenty of research proves that cardio-vascular exercise is extremely beneficial for psychological health. They provoke our brains to produce endorphins, which fight stress, as well as a protein, which is known as a brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which improves mental ability and memory and is often described as a “mental reset button.” Therefore, exercise is an extremely beneficial way to take your mind off work.
Stretching. A great extension to exercise or even an alternative for those who don’t want to break a sweat. Stretching improves flexibility and posture and helps remove and prevent back and neck pain, which is especially valuable for people with sedentary jobs. Stretching also increases circulation and relieves stress, especially if you practice it through yoga – carefully and thoughtfully.
Healthy snacking. Allows you to stay energetically toned as opposed to heavy sugary snacks, which are even more fatiguing. Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber and nutrients, nuts as a source of protein – these snacks saturate the body with the amino acids needed for good concentration and attention.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, with freedom comes responsibility. And the better you organize your day, the more productive you can manage that responsibility.