Connect with us

Life

4 Research-Backed Ways to Improve Your Productivity Today

Published

on

productivity

We are always looking for how we can fit more into our days and weeks, eager to try the newest productivity tip that comes our way, just like the newest fad diet. The pomodoro technique? Check. Waking up at 4am like Apple CEO Tim Cook? Tried it. The ‘throw out your to-do list’ productivity tip? Tried that one, too.

And yet we’re still looking for the productivity hack, that magic pill promising to will us into action toward the goal of checking everything off our to-do list by the day’s end.

But, here’s the thing. Before you can even think about trying the latest tips and tricks on the productivity front, you have to change your thinking about productivity. In other words, you have to start thinking of managing your energy first – not time itself.

The forces that provide energy – namely, your body and your mind, need to be the starting points. It’s the number one most overlooked productivity tip out there.

The Links Between Energy and Productivity

The links between productivity, sleep, healthy food, exercise and mental health are well-documented and yet they are among the most overlooked productivity boosters out there.  The link between sleep and productivity is well-known, but it can be difficult to stop burning the midnight oil, even though it’s so counterintuitive.

One study found that insomniacs and those with insufficient sleep syndrome (those who fail to get enough sleep at night and are sleep deprived) had significantly worse productivity levels and overall performance compared to those who got more sleep.

And then there’s all of the studies linking certain foods and energy levels. According to the World Health Organization, healthy eating can increase your productivity levels by 20 percent. Although drive-thrus were designed to be efficient, they are backfiring when it comes to productivity.

And, of course, the dreaded topic of exercise. This study compared 200 employees on the days they exercised and the days they didn’t. The results were impressive. 72% reported improvements in time management, while 74% reported better workload management. The scores were also 41% higher on feeling motivated to work, 22% higher for finishing work on time and 21% higher in concentration.

There’s also mental energy that comes into play when it comes to productivity, with studies showing that people only have a limited amount of energy to spend during the day. Once that’s depleted, productivity decreases.

“Manage your energy, not your time.” – Paul Dickey

How to Manage Your Energy Levels

When it comes to getting more sleep, eating healthier and getting more exercise in, you’re likely familiar with the old classics: avoid digital screens an hour or two before going to bed, swap out white carbs for brown carbs, nix the sugar and so on.

Keep in mind many of these elements are interconnected. So, carving out a little bit of time for exercise can help you sleep better at night.

But here is what some of the latest research on the topic has to say.

1. Sleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep once your head hits the pillow? A cognitive scientist has offered a new, drug-free sleep hack called cognitive shuffling that promises to make you fall asleep in mere seconds. The idea is that it lulls you into that foggy state that comes before actual sleep where things stop making sense.

This is how it works: Instead of counting sheep, choose a random word like ‘Productivity.’ Next, come up with new words based on each letter and imagine those words vividly.  By focusing on random words and images, it lulls the brain into that foggy state.

Are you getting enough sunlight exposure in the morning? Sunlight has been linked with better sleep. This helps regulate circadian rhythms. Try taking the dog out for a brisk walk around the block in the morning or drinking your morning cup of coffee on the patio.

2. Diet

The best diet for energy? According to a new study published by American Academy of Neurology, the answer lies in the Mediterranean diet – a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, beans, cereal grains and olive oil and fewer animal products like dairy and fish.

The study, while using a population of older adults, found that they retained more brain volume over three years than those who did not follow the diet as closely. If you can swap out processed foods throughout your work week, your brain will thank you with more brain power throughout the day.

3. Exercise

When we want to get more accomplished in the day, it seems counterintuitive to try to fit in exercise. Nonetheless, new research on the topic is showing you don’t need to spend hours on the treadmill or at the gym in order to unleash the brain-boosting benefits of exercise.

The best kind of exercise for people that don’t have a lot of time? Short bouts of intense exercise. A new study has found that even one minute of exercise – one minute! – has similar health effects to longer endurance training.

If you’re resistant to exercise, a more gentle form of exercise like Hatha yoga has been found to improve brain function and energy levels. The same was true for mindfulness meditation. The study found that all you needed was 25 minutes.

Using your lunch break to do a little bit of mindfulness meditation can help see you through that classic afternoon slump and reach for the coffee pot.

“Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart.” – Gene Tunney

4. Mental Health

When it comes to mental energy, it is important to prioritize mental health. A surprising way to boost energy is watching cat videos. One study has found that watching cat videos at your desk improves energy and boosts positive emotions.

The benefits of green space on mental health, including the ability to reduce stress, have been well documented. Whether you add a couple of plants to your desk at work or you walk over to the park on your lunch break, you will leave feeling calmer and ready to take on the rest of your day.

The Takeaway

Before you read the latest and greatest productivity hack, or before you question why you’re not accomplishing enough, ensure that you are managing your physical and mental energy first. This is the number one most overlooked productivity tip out there.

How are you managing your energy throughout the day? Let us know anything you do which you believe can be beneficial to all of us.

Arash Asli is at the forefront of business growth helping SMBs grow their businesses, as CEO of Yocale, an online scheduling and marketing platform. His thought leadership have been featured in major publications including Forbes, Huffington Post, and Inc. He is honoured to have been named the Business in Vancouver's Top Forty under 40 business executive.

Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Shubham

    Nov 13, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I love your blog posts. Whenever I read articles on your website, I feel a positive energy within. Thanks for creating such a brilliant blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Life

If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Published

on

how to avoid failure
Image Credit: Pixabay

You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

Continue Reading

Life

3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

Published

on

willpower
Image Credit: Pixabay

How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

Continue Reading

Life

3 Inspiring Lessons We Can Learn From Jim Carrey About the Law of Attraction

Published

on

jim carrey
Image Credit: Maarten de Boer

You’ve more than likely heard of Jim Carrey before. Over the years, he has starred in many popular films including The Truman Show, The Mask, and Bruce Almighty (just to name a few.)

But his personality goes a lot deeper than just his comedic persona and movie star charisma. In fact, Jim Carrey is probably one of the most philosophical individuals on the planet

Although he isn’t in the spotlight as much anymore, throughout the years, he has credited his success and fortunes by applying the Law of attraction into his life. What’s even more inspiring is that Jim Carrey, like you and I, came from humble beginnings. No silver spoon or easy ticket. In fact, his family was very poor throughout his childhood. So what made him so successful in attracting such an extravagant and self-fulfilling life?

Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Jim Carrey when it comes to manifesting your dreams into a reality:

1. You Have To Take Action

You can’t just visualize then go eat a sandwich”, Jim Carrey says. It goes without saying that the law of attraction does require action. You cannot simply rely on visualizing and expect to see results, especially when it comes to manifesting desires that other people would like to achieve also. E.g. Careers, scholarships, competitions, anything that involves another individual.

Visualization and positive thinking are crucial when it comes to using the law of attraction, but you have to meet the universe halfway with the steps you take as well. We are physical beings that require physical steps to get physical results. The real key is to make daily plans/goals in order to get you closer towards achieving your desires. So after that sandwich, make sure start taking action toward your dreams!

This could be working on your hobbies or passion, applying for that dream job or studying to get better grades. As long as you are moving toward your goals then there’s no reason why it can’t happen. So get out there and kick some butt.

2. Double Down On What You Love

My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

If this story of Jim Carrey’s father doesn’t pull on your heartstrings and inspire you at the same time, nothing else will! This is such an undeniable life lesson that everyone needs to learn. A lesson to take risks, push comfort zones and go all-in on what you love doing. So if your dreams, hobbies or goals seem far fetched to the majority, then you are already beating the other 99%.

Be that 1% that’s willing to dream big and rise above the norm. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our ancestral instincts still rule our everyday life. Fear is one of them and controls the majority of our population. It’s scary to push comfort zones and try something new, the thought of failure is often paralyzing to many. But my question to you is, will you look back one day and regret the chances you didn’t take?

3. Keep Your Eye On The Prize

As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.” Holding onto every little detail when it comes to manifesting, can conjure up more harm than good. The reason is that the universe will deliver in ways you might not expect.

If you are too busy wondering when your desires will manifest, comparing yourself to others, or ignoring every sign that doesn’t look like your detailed plan you’ve written down, then you may be missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you! Your visualizations don’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s better to just let go altogether and focus on the result itself rather than dwelling on every little detail. This doesn’t mean to simply forget about what you want but instead having the confidence it will happen in time. 

An example of this is when Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for 30 million dollars. The only detail he knew was that he would earn it through his acting career, and he did indeed achieve this goal! So make sure to tell the universe what you want, but try not to hold onto every little detail!

Jim Carrey is just another person like you and me, with his own personal ups and downs in his road to success. He is someone to look up to when applying the law of attraction in your life too. It doesn’t matter if your goals or desires are different because the core foundation will always stay the same. You can and will do this if you think, feel and act as if it will happen!

Continue Reading

Life

Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start

Published

on

meditation for beginners
Image Credit: Pixabay

Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.

How meditation works

Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.

There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.

A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).

With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.

In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.

They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.

“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama

What science says about meditation

People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.

Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.

Can anyone meditate?

Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.

Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.

Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa

What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?

A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.

Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!

Continue Reading

Trending