Want to accomplish more in a day? Struggling with productivity since working from home? If the answer is yes, I think you will benefit from the tips coming up.
Productivity is something that really fascinates me. We all have the same 24 hours in a day but some are able to get so much more done than others. Even personally, I am sure that you have had days where you get a lot done and other where you feel like you accomplished nothing. This has become even more relevant while working from home. I therefore want to introduce you to some tips, techniques and tools that have helped me become far more productive in the last few years.
Now, there are plenty of techniques people have used to be more productive. These are the ones I have used over the last few years to get more done. First up is the Pomodoro technique. The idea is that you work in short sprints and take regular breaks. Here’s how it works:
- Pick a task to work on.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and begin working.
- Once the timer goes off stop work and take a 5 minute break.
- Every 4 breaks take a longer break of around 15-30 minutes.
You can use a timer on your phone however there are apps like the Focus Timer (IOS) and the Marinara Timer (Web) which are designed for this technique. The idea behind this technique is that you need to take breaks to be the most productive. You can therefore play around with the times. Brendon Burchard says that the top performers who he has studied take breaks every 50 minutes. So find what works best for you.
Do you find you have a massive to do list but when it comes to the end of the day it still feels like you didn’t get enough done. Instead of doing what you need to get done you did a lot of small tasks so you feel busy? Well this next technique taken from Tim Ferris helps to ensure you get the most important task done every day. This is an awesome one if you procrastinate or over schedule. Here it goes:
- Write down 3-5 things that are causing you the most stress.
- Then ask yourself for each one two questions: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day? “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
- Now go over the items where you said yes to at least one of them and pick one. That’s it. Set aside a couple hours to do that task.
I find this really helpful as I tend to push away the things that need to get done the most as they are the hardest. We tend to make ourselves feel like we are busy but this is not productive.
Friday Finisher List
This next one from Brendon Burchard is called the Friday Finisher List and it is great to keep focused during the week. It’s simple. Before the start of the week write down the key objectives which have to be done by Friday. This helps to get clear on what needs to get done and the deadline helps to get it done quickly. If you complete your Friday Finishers list each week for a year you will be amazed by how much you get done.
This last one is especially useful while working from home. It is called block time scheduling. All you do is set a period of time in you calendar where you do a specific task such as social medias or meetings. These periods are fixed so you can deviate away from them. This helps you to stick to a schedule and not act on a whim all the time. Especially if you get overwhelmed by work I find this a great way to know exactly what needs to be done each day.
Food and Drinks to become more productive
If you want to be productive then you need to eat the right foods. This means trying to limit the amount of sugary foods as this will lead to spikes in blood sugars leading to huge crashes (also known as the mid-afternoon crash). Here are some of my tips to optimise your eating for productivity:
- Try not to eat breakfast, instead try intermittent fasting. This means your body starts to burn your fat reserves for fuel which is a far more efficient energy source which will give you lots of energy in the mornings. If you do want to eat, then try a breakfast that is high in fat and protein. This will stop you craving food later on in the day as well as stop an afternoon crash.
- Try eat a diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats and protein and limiting the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you have. Eating sugary food will cause you to have cravings, dips in energy and affect your mood which ultimately will affect your productivity.
- If you like to snack then try make them heathy. If you want some ideas check out my last blog with 50 healthy and delicious snack ideas.
Eating healthy in general will have a positive impact on your productivity however there are some specific foods which have compounds known to help the brain:
Blueberries: These are fully of amazing antioxidants which specifically help getting blood flow to the brain. Getting these in as a snack everyday will benefit your productivity.
Dark Chocolate: Similar to blueberries, it also contains compounds which increase blood flow to the brain. It also contains theobromine, a compound which has similar effects to caffeine.
Eggs: These are awesome for your health in general, however they contain high amounts of choline which is a precursor to acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood, memory and intelligence.
There are also drinks which you can have to improve productivity. Of course there is coffee which is high in caffeine which helps focus and energy. However, instead of just plain coffee I will give you a couple variations that I find boosts my energy and focus even more. Firstly, I would recommend Bulletproof Coffee which you may or may not have heard of. To make this coffee you blend together high quality coffee with grass-fed butter (it tastes way better than it sounds) and MCT oil. This high fat coffee gives you a massive kick of energy as you burn ketones from the MCT oil. Another tip is to add L-theanine (found in green tea) to your coffee. This is ideal for people who struggle to drink coffee as the L-theanine promotes calmness and reduces anxiety but also helps keep you focused.
I am also a big fan of tea to help with productivity. These include matcha green tea which has that great combination of caffeine and L-theanine but also amazing health benefits. I also like Yerba Mate tea as it is very high in caffeine which helps with focus and energy.
Supercharge Productivity with Supplements
The word nootropics is used to define any drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration thus improving productivity. In this section I will go through the ones I have used to increase my productivity.
1) Vitamin D3
The best place to get this is from the sun however given that over 50% of the population is deficient in this vitamin it would make sense to supplement with around 4000 IU of it a day. Vitamin D is critical to the health of your whole body and studies have shown that people with low levels have slower mental performance. It has been shown to protect neurons in your brain and be a critical part of nerve growth. If you do take vitamin D3 combine it with Vitamin K2 and magnesium to make sure calcium levels are balanced.
2) Fish oil
Taking a fish oil supplement such as cod liver oil or krill oil will help you get a sufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The walls of your cells are made up of these fatty acids therefore if you are insufficient then signals in your brain can’t get passed around quickly leading to poor mental function. Countless studies have shown taking an omega-3 supplement improves brain function thus helping you focus and have clarity.
3) Functional Mushrooms
Functional mushrooms include the likes of Reishi, Lions mane, Chaga, Cordyceps, Bacopa Monieri, Maitake, Turkey Tail and Shiitake. I won’t go through them individually here, however in a following blog I will. These mushrooms have got very popular recently as science has shown the amazing benefits these mushrooms have on our body. One of my favourite places to get these is FourSigmatic which puts these mushrooms in coffees, teas and beauty products.
Even though each mushroom has its own benefits, many have a profound impact on brain performance and productivity especially Lions Mane, Chaga and Bacopa Monieri. I would really recommend trying some out as they can help productivity as well as seriously improve your health.
There are plenty more supplements I have taken including Gingko Biloba, Ginseng and Ashwagandha. I would encourage you to explore around the internet for more information. We are all different therefore what works for me may not work for you and vise versa.
Tools to Boost Productivity
There are so many tools out there which can help boost productivity so there is no point going through a list of them. Instead I will tell you about the ones which have had the biggest impact on me.
This journal is a great way to get your thoughts and feelings down onto paper every morning and night. It is simple but extremely effective, using science to back everything up. It includes gratitude, reflection and puts you into a positive mindset every day to allow you to perform at your best.
I find two types of music can really help my productivity. One is binaural beats which helps put your brain into an alpha-state which is one of focus and creativity. The other is using Baroque classical music which has been shown to improve learning efficiency.
This is a great tool especially if you will be working from home for the foreseeable future. Sitting down for long periods has harmful effects on the body therefore moving to a standing desk will help improve health. Studies have shown large increases in productivity using a standing desk as you get better blood flow to your body.
Getting more done in a day is something all of us would like to improve whether in work or in everyday life. If we can get more done we are able to do more things we enjoy. Since lockdown, studies have shown a fall in productivity for various reasons. Therefore, I hope this article gave you a few more ideas about some techniques, tools, food and supplements which you can use to help increase your productivity so that you can perform at your best. There are plenty more ways to increase your productivity and I encourage you to explore for yourself. These tips are only the surface, there are many more methods which may work better for you.