Most of us have our own workplace productivity-boosting tricks. Sure, there might be a few things that could make us more organized or help us prioritize better. But we’re not talking about how to be faster at your job here. Instead these are three productivity boosters that have nothing to do with managing your time or staying on task.
Science has tracked, time and again, our daily productivity highs and lows. So, what are the tricks that help you clear your head or give you more focus?
Here are 3 Unexpected Productivity Boosters:
- Take regular breaks. Leave the work (and your desk) behind for a few minutes several times a day. This could be a chill kind of break where you meditate or sit in a cozy chair napping for 10 minutes. Or you could choose to get outside and be more active.
At SkillPath, breaks are a mixed bag. You’ll see employees outside on a nearby walking trail, napping or reading peacefully in a comfy chair or snagging the air hockey or ping pong table for a quick match. One department has a whiteboard where a monthly theme is chosen and drawing is encouraged. A department jigsaw puzzle or a never-ending scrabble game could also encourage a nice mental break.
Author Arina Nikitina has a big list of break ideas if you need more.
- Consider what you’re eating. Not just any food is fuel, writes Ron Friedman Ph.D. in an article for psychologytoday.com. A poor decision at breakfast or lunch can trip up your whole day. He explains by reminding us that our bodies convert everything we eat into glucose, which gives our brains the energy needed to stay alert. “When we’re running low on glucose we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.
”Here’s the interesting part: Our bodies process varying foods at different rates. Carbs and sugars release their glucose fast—giving a burst of energy and then a slump. Meals higher in fat (meat, cheese, etc.) give us a more sustained energy flow but take longer to digest, reducing the oxygen in the brain—leaving us groggy. Friedman suggests grazing throughout the day to avoid letting your glucose bottom out. Nuts, protein bars and fruit or veggies are on his snack list.
A side benefit of the fruit and vegetables is that they “contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory and enhance mood.” And speaking of happiness ….
- Find ways to be happy. Happy employees are more productive and engaged. Happy managers are important as well. Irate, forceful managers who are encouraged by leaders to always be cracking the whip, cause workers to be stressed. And stressed out workers aren’t usually happy or motivated. Research at Harvard Business School (and noted in an hbr.org article) has “shown that leaders who project warmth—even before establishing their competence—are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill. Why? One reason is trust. Employees feel greater trust with someone who is kind.” The article also notes that self-sacrificing bosses lead to pay-it-forward behavior in employees.
Other little ways to help increase happiness at work (offered by gethppy.com) include: Decorating your workspace to make it inviting and interesting and encouraging and building work friendships through socializing and team-building.
Amid the flurry of suggestions on how to be more productive in the office, consider the less obvious productivity boosters of eating the right things, giving your mind an occasional break and considering how to make your work time happier. Productivity isn’t always about making the most of your time—sometimes it’s about the right mindset.
Related reading: Take Back Your Productivity by Controlling Work Interruptions
Related reading: 4 Steps to Better Productivity at the Office