Picture this. You’re at work. Powering through one task to the next, people almost don’t notice you taking a few sips of coffee in between typing up e-mails. You’re like a maestro leading the orchestra at your desk: a reply to this calendar invitation, a revision to this report, and a double-beat from that Americano in your favorite work mug.
And then all of a sudden, the music sounds flat. You notice the slurred sounds of your typing and the caffeine has lost its magic. You hit a wall.
This is something busy bees would all be aware of. Soldiering through work not taking a break, chained to your desk, and glued to your screen can be counterproductive. Take five with these unconventional ways to increase your productivity.
1. Get moving: It will help refresh your brain and awaken your body.
Seriously, who functions at their 100% when they’re tired and sleepy? It doesn’t take much to stimulate your body. Just stand up, walk around, and do a few stretches. Don’t forget to hydrate as well.
A good application for your desktop is Workrave, a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). It has a timer for when you can take breaks and has instructional animations for stretches or desk exercises you can do.
2. Do the Pomodoro Method: Frequent breaks can improve mental agility.
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that breaks down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodoros,” meaning “tomato.”
Allot 25 minutes for work, and then take a five-minute break. During those precious five minutes of break time, step away from your computer; your desk is the plague and you must get away and breathe in fresh oxygen.
3. Get some zzz’s: Combat exhaustion, sleepiness, and eye strain.
They don’t call them “power naps” for nothing. A good quick snooze will boost your memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy level. Remember to keep naps relatively short as napping for longer than 30 minutes can lead to “sleep inertia,” that groggy feeling you get when you wake up from a deep sleep. Set up an alarm for a 10, 20, or 30-minute nap and not a second more.
Take a nap in the late morning or early afternoon, during the slower hours. Napping late in the day can interfere with your body’s regular sleep schedule, leading to insomnia or poor sleep at night.
4. Play a game: If done right, a little playing time is great for increased productivity.
The trick is to choose a game that not only entertains but gets your brain going as well. Crossword puzzles, board games with your colleagues, quizzes, you can choose from a variety of games that enhances cognitive ability. It may sound like the opposite of being productive, so you can opt to do these are activities during breaks.
Depending on the type of activity, games can improve creative thinking, decision making and cognitive flexibility, strengthen memory, focus and problem-solving. Take a cue from energetic little kids. After all, all work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.
5. Put it in writing: Unplug, unwind, and minimize distractions.
Being online all day on our computers, phones, and tablets can lead to an overload of information which ultimately results in lower productivity. Paying attention to what’s around you can help you focus better and minimize not only distractions, but anxieties as well. Unplugging from technology also helps you sleep better and be happier.
A good way to flush out all those thoughts buzzing around in your head? Write. It doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer-prize winning essay. You just need to let out all that’s in your head into paper. It’s a good exercise when you wake up in the morning, before sleeping, or during a slow time at work.