10 Tips for Supercharging Your Productivity
There are two ways to increase your output—either put in more hours or work smarter. We don’t know about you, but we choose the latter.
Being more productive isn’t rocket science, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time and taking steps to set yourself up for success. This article will walk you through ten simple but effective strategies for increasing your productivity and adding hours to your day.
1. Declutter your space
Piles of paper and jumbled cupboards might seem harmless, but research shows that disorganization and clutter can have a negative effect on our brains.[*] Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources and increase our cognitive overload. In turn, these effects can negatively impact our memory, ability to focus, and stress levels.[*][*]
Whether you work in an office or as a stay-at-home mom, organizing and decluttering your environment is an important first step toward better productivity.
2. Make a to-do list
It’s not always easy to keep track of everything you need to do, so start each day by writing a to-do list on a Post-it, calendar, or notebook and put it where you can see it. Put the most important tasks at the top of your list so you’re sure to complete them first.
Having a visual reminder of your tasks can help you refocus when you find yourself procrastinating or drifting off task.
3. Bring in some nature
Nature is not only beautiful—it can also improve your mood and help you focus. A study by the American Society for Horticultural Science found that workers who were exposed to plants in their workspace reported feeling less stressed and more productive.[*]
Another study found that simply staring at an image of natural scenery for 40 seconds was enough to increase relaxation, attention, and accuracy.[*]
Bring some nature into your workspace or home with plants, nature paintings or pictures, or an indoor fountain.
4. Reduce the pull of digital devices
The acceleration of the digital age has undoubtedly made us more distracted than ever before. In fact, research has shown that the closer your smartphone is to you, the less productive and accurate you are at work.[*]
This is complicated by the fact that many of us work on computers or need to use our smartphones for work. To reduce the gravitational pull of digital devices:
- Turn off your notifications for email, text messages, and other apps.
- Leave your smartphone in another room and only check it periodically.
- Use website blocking apps that temporarily block your access to distracting websites (ahem, social media).
- Only have website tabs open for the task you’re working on.
5. Identify your most productive time of day
Everyone has a particular time of day in which they’re more productive than others. Whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening, determine when you feel most alert and attentive and plan to work on your most demanding tasks during that time.
This is an especially useful tactic for those that can determine their own schedule. If you can’t create your own schedule, consider prioritizing your tasks based on which hours of your workday you feel at the top of your game.
6. Take regular breaks
It might sound counterintuitive, but taking regular breaks can actually help improve your concentration and productivity. Experts suggest that people who work on a task in 90-minute intervals are more productive than those who work in 90-minute-plus intervals.[*]
Give yourself permission to take regular breaks and use that time to do something unrelated to the task, such as going for a walk, reading a book, listening to a podcast, playing with your pet, or making a snack.
7. Practice task batching
Think you’re getting more done by trying to multitask? Think again. Research has shown that multitasking is not productive.[*]
Instead, try task batching—a productivity strategy that involves grouping tasks that are similar or part of the same project into one designated time period. For example, you could designate 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. to answering emails, returning texts, and responding to people on social media instead of answering them as they come in.
This technique works because it allows your brain to focus on one type of task at a time instead of jumping back and forth between various types of tasks.
8. Take exercise breaks
Taking a break during work to exercise may help improve productivity, research suggests.[*] If possible, build in a set time during the day to move your body. Getting your blood pumping could be exactly what you need to revitalize your energy and refocus.
9. Dial in your diet
What you put in your body matters. If you load up on junk food, you’ll likely feel tired, sluggish, and generally unwell. Needless to say, this can significantly impact your productivity. To avoid food-induced slumps, prioritize eating healthy meals and snacks.
Center your diet around whole, unprocessed plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and watch your productivity skyrocket.
10. Reduce or eliminate caffeine
If you’re reading an article on productivity, chances are you have a cup of coffee in your hand or near your desk right now. But did you know that the caffeine in coffee could actually be hindering your productivity?
This may seem paradoxical as most people would agree that caffeine helps them feel more alert, but that benefit is only short-term and is likely outweighed by the negatives.
Caffeine is a stimulant drug that essentially tricks your body into thinking it has more energy than it does. When your body later finds out it doesn’t have the energy it thought it did, you feel that caffeine “crash.”
Your body can also become dependent on caffeine and experience withdrawal if it doesn’t get its daily dose. This can cause symptoms like tiredness, headaches, and irritability.[*]
Additionally, caffeine releases adrenaline, giving you that “amped up” feeling.[*] The problem with this is that adrenaline pushes your body into overdrive, which can cause anxiety and tax your body’s resources. This can lead to feelings of fatigue later on.
Lastly, the effects of caffeine can affect sleep duration and quality, causing increased daytime fatigue and reduced concentration.[*]
All of these factors combined can lead to impaired productivity.
Consider swapping your coffee and other caffeinated beverages for a coffee alternative, such as chico. Chico is a caffeine-free coffee substitute that contains six superfoods, including Ashwagandha, Cacao, Gotu Kola, Lion’s Mane, Maca, and Rhodiola Rosea. These plants provide caffeine-like benefits, such as increased focus, brain function, energy, and alertness, without adverse effects that can hinder productivity.
Keep in mind that when reducing your caffeine intake, you’ll likely feel temporarily worse before you feel better due to withdrawal. But if you stick with it, you’ll come out the other side a more balanced, energetic, productive person.