How many times have I heard people say to me “I need more hours in the day!”? Whenever I hear this, my first question is “What if you could do more with the hours that you’ve got?”. Immediately I am told that would be impossible, which, of course, to me is just a more interesting challenge.
So, what if you could? And what is happening now that makes your use of time less efficient? We have already talked in previous posts about managing emails and, certainly, time management in general is an important part of getting the best out of your day. Prioritising, and scheduling are key ways to make your day easier to manage and more efficient. But what about reducing distractions and increasing your capacity to focus your attention and increasing your ability to analyse material more effectively?
Paradoxically, these things are not improved by cramming more into every hour. Extensive research shows that taking regular breaks, as much as a short break of two or three minutes every hour, will dramatically improve your attention, your focus and your mental acuity. In short, you will be able to do more and of a better quality with the time you have. You will increase your productivity.
Another way of increasing your productivity and your ability at creative problem solving is by looking at nature. Studies here in Australia, have recently shown that spending even a short time looking at greenery, trees, gardens, parks, will have a direct and positive effect on your ability to focus, your ability to creatively solve problems and your productivity overall. In fact, it seems even looking at a screen saver of a natural landscape can have a positive effect!
Mountains of research connect exercise to increases in productivity. If you really want to increase your output, half an hour’s exercise three times a week and you will see almost immediate results.
So increase what you can do with the hours that you are working:
- Take regular short breaks during your working day (at least every couple of hours and better a couple of minutes every hour). Grab a cup of tea or a glass of water, take a walk in the open for a couple of minutes – anything that isn’t work related.
- Connect with nature. Take a walk in the park for lunch and make sure your screen saver is of different natural landscapes (if that isn’t possible, put up a photograph of a natural landscape you love and change it every now and then)
- Exercise three times a week
- Prioritise the urgent and important things at the beginning of each day and work out a schedule for your day.
You will be astonished at the difference this will make to your work and your day.