You’re staring at your computer screen for what seems like hours and nothing seems to be processing. Either that or something seems to be blocking your brain from churning out ideas.
Some might blame it on burnout culture: the idea that people consider themselves indispensable and guilt trip themselves into not taking time off, to the point that work becomes their entire life.
This is not far off, considering that Filipino employees work approximately 43.2 hours every week as of January 2019. The Philippine Statistics Authority says that the figure is more than the labor force has ever had. It doesn’t even include the commuting hours, which seem to get worse every day.
Some rule out burnout and chalk it up to a simple case of momentary distraction. But whether you’re subconsciously pushing yourself too hard or just temporarily preoccupied, you still have tasks to finish and responsibilities to uphold. Focus on self-care and discipline when your productivity starts dwindling.
How do you jumpstart your brain when it seems to stop working?
Always Take Care of Yourself
Chasing deadlines, polishing proposals, making time for errands in a tight work schedule — in the age of hustle culture, these things might make you feel like you’re drowning in responsibilities with nothing in return. They might make you feel like you live to work and that there’s nothing else going on for you.
Get out of that mindset by checking in with yourself and making time for self-care.
Get enough sleep.
We’ve all been there: it’s almost midnight and you should probably start preparing for bed, but you had an unexpectedly long meeting earlier that day and it kept you from finishing a task that was also due that day. So you decided to bring your work home and finish it before sleeping.
Some people might find it commendable that you still finish your work despite a packed schedule, but you have to define your limits. There’s nothing wrong with working more hours than you should, but make sure it doesn’t compromise your sleeping habits. A recent study on sleep health concludes that overall work performance improves when you get some shut-eye.
Don’t forget to eat.
Oh yes, desk lunch. Many people feel guilty about ditching friends and taking rain checks in exchange for finishing more work during lunch break. Adding to this, some employees skip breakfast and dive straight into work they left behind the day before or when they were sick.
Your blood sugar level spikes and drops when you have an irregular eating schedule. This has a negative effect on your brain power and overall productivity. Not eating right might even make you more prone to diseases in the long run. So make time for food to keep you focused all day.
Take short breaks.
If you think staying glued to your workstation and ignoring everyone around you will make you more productive, think again. You need regular breaks to refresh your mind and improve your concentration. Give yourself ten to 15 minutes to meditate, walk around, or socialize — this short mental health break sharpens your brain and stimulates your creativity.
Start looking after yourself and notice a gradual positive change in your productivity. If you need to set alarms for snack time or short breaks, do it. Make time for these things that give you fuel to finish your work and actually be satisfied with it.
Practice and Master Self-Discipline
What will be your greatest struggle at work? No, it isn’t the boss who trashes your ideas no matter how meticulous they are. It isn’t the resident gossip who keeps bringing you down even if you’ve never done anything to them, either. The greatest struggle is your fight for inner strength and control.
In the workplace, self-discipline means getting rid of bad work habits and focusing on getting better.
Go minimalist with your tabs.
Many employees are convinced that they are good at multitasking — they have about a hundred tabs open on Chrome along with a few Word Documents pulled up and the Spotify web player in the background. But in addition to slowing down your computer and making it more difficult to find the tab you need, having multiple tabs open at the same time actually distracts you more.
You may argue that having the tabs open saves you time when you need to check on something. But, the more tabs you open, the less focused you are on that one task you have to finish.
Set aside time to check emails.
With a few taps on your mobile phone or a few clicks on your computer, you can easily send an email to anyone anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re checking up on a colleague in the next room or following up on something from a client halfway around the world — your message will reach them. And they can easily reach you. But set aside chunks of your day for this task.
The average person spends approximately 28 percent of their workweek just checking, sending, and reading emails. Yes, it’s convenient. But it distracts you from what you’re currently doing and affects your overall productivity. Learn to manage your email more efficiently; check it less.
Keep your phone out of sight.
Smartphones are arguably the greatest gift to this generation. You can connect with the world, check your email, track your finances, play music, hail a cab, and record your menstrual cycle all on one small device. But as convenient as your smartphone is, its push notifications disrupt your concentration. Keep it out of sight and check it only when you’re done with the task at hand.
In addition to getting rid of distractions, consider making to-do lists every day. These lists, which put you on a manageable path to get things done, are particularly helpful when you are guilty of procrastination. Prepare a specific and realistic daily list; turn it into a habit; feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
Self-discipline is one of the most challenging things to master but once you have the willpower to control your habits and choices, you will be happier and more satisfied with the work that you do.
Take Charge of How You Spend Your Day
You’re staring out the window, wondering for the nth time how you will finish a seemingly impossible task in front of you. But nothing will change if you just keep wondering.
Like one of the world’s most famous sports brand says, just do it. Self-care and discipline, which fuel work productivity, start when you act on your thoughts.