Do This to Increase Your Productivity

Do This to Increase Your Productivity

Do you ever stop to assess your productivity? Would you make some key changes in your work habits to achieve greater levels of performance if given the opportunity?

For those who work in the traditional 8-5 office environment, there’s a chance that some activities are fillers. Employees are expected to be there for a certain number of hours, and while there are certainly times they feel swamped, there may also be times that they’re doing busy-work that isn’t in and of itself of productive value.

Additionally, how many of these office workers are drinking too much coffee to get through the day, lingering in the break room, chatting at the water cooler, distracting themselves on social media and otherwise just filling time?

It’s clear that many office workers struggle to stay engaged while at work.

Work Habits For the Entrepreneur

If the following applies to you,  you have a greater vested interest in productivity:

  • You work at home.
  • You get projects done during what is supposed to be your downtime.
  • You’re an entrepreneur.

For you, increased productivity means more time to enjoy. And, a potentially higher income!

Essentially, the entrepreneur and the worker who is working on their own time are generally more results-oriented. When you are paid by results rather than hours, your interest in productivity is much more vested.

Instead of busy-work and time fillers, what if your workday looked more like this:

A burst of intensive work…

… followed by quality rest and downtime?

Then you could enjoy real downtime to recharge your energy, motivation and creativity.

Deep Work, Productive Rest

Quality rest has been strongly linked by research to improved creativity and ultimately productive thought patterns. According to one study,1 only 16% of respondents reported having had their most creative and innovative insights during work hours. Instead, the best idea and solutions came to them during downtime.

How often has the perfect solution popped into your head while in the shower? Or a creative idea crossed your mind while driving? Or just the right solution came to you as you passively watched television?

The case for downtime is clear.

In order to reap the rewards of this kind of downtime, you need to engage in what some refer to as deep work—a work environment that has as few distractions and interruptions as possible.

The key to deep work is that it isn’t of a long duration. The best deep work can be done in 1-3 hour spurts.

This essentially involves curating your work environment in a way that will bring you to a place of deep focus. It includes starting your day rested, fueled with a protein-based breakfast, and caffeinated — if that’s your thing!

Creating a Good Environment for Deep Work

So, how do you create an ideal environment for deep work?

Protect your space.

Consider putting a do not disturb sign on the door, muting the phone, shutting down all social media, and ignoring any email not directly related to your project. Give loved ones a text code to use if their interruption is an emergency, otherwise make it clear beforehand that any communication that comes in during your deep work time will be tended to later.

Work in the morning.

Psychologist Ron Friedman recommends the morning hours for deep work: “Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well.”2

In addition, in the morning, the prefrontal cortex of the brain is most creative and active. The mind is simply in its best condition to do thoughtful work in the earlier hours of the day.3

What if you work in an office? Your work conditions may not allow for this kind of schedule, but it’s important to know that you can tweak this system depending on your own situation.

An Ideal Deep Work Day

What does this look like day-to-day? It’s different for everyone, but here’s an example:

If you’re experiencing lagging motivation and creative burnout, deep work may be just the thing for you.

By taking advantage of your most productive morning hours, blocking out other distractions, and hyper-focusing on the work at hand, you can make the most of your productive potential and balance it with some top-quality downtime.

Give it a try!

With Purpose,

Dr. Patrick Gentempo

Patrick Gentempo

References:

1 M., Rebecca, et al. “CHARACTERIZING REFLECTIVE PRACTICE IN DESIGN – WHAT ABOUT THOSE IDEAS YOU GET IN THE SHOWER?” The Design Society – a Worldwide Community, 1 Jan. 1970

2 “Your Brain’s Ideal Schedule.” Harvard Business Review, 7 June 2018,

3Morning-evening variation in human brain metabolism and memory circuits” J. Shannon, R. A. Dosenbach, Y. Su, A. G. Vlassenko, L. J. Larson-Prior, T. S. Nolan, A. Z. Snyder, and M. E. Raichle
Journal of Neurophysiology 2013 109:5, 1444-1456