I am often asked about my favorite productivity tips and thought I would use this post to share them with you. I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, so please take what works for you and ignore the rest.
SHARON’S TOP 10 PRODUCTIVITY TIPS:
1. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Over the past 20 years there has been a tremendous amount of research around the impact of mindfulness and meditation.
There is significant evidence that mindfulness is correlated with: reduced activity in the part of the brain where anxiety resides, improved sleep, reduced symptoms associated with depression, increased working memory, improved concentration, and a stronger immune system. The best part? No training is required - just sit in a quiet place and focus on your breathing or try one of the many guided meditation apps ( suggestions include Headspace, Calm, InsightTimer, 10% Happier, and Simple Habit).
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY
It can be hard to find the time, but exercise is a great way to stay healthy and it provides a nice endorphin release. Try scheduling it into your day a few times a week on a recurring basis. If you have to sometimes cancel your workout for something more important, having it in your calendar means you are more likely to do it!
3. MANAGE EMAILS
Resist the urge to check your email constantly; set aside a few times each day to process your email to maximize productivity. A study at the University of British Columbia showed that checking email less frequently reduces stress and can save you as much as 20% of the time it takes to process your inbox.
4. MAINTAIN A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
Optimism has more to do with success than your IQ. According to Shawn Achor, if you operate with a 'positive' brain, you will be 31% more productive than if you work on brain stressed, neutral or negative.
5. HOLD FEWER MEETINGS
To save time, keep meetings short and avoid unnecessary meetings. Keep in mind that sit-down meetings take 33% longer, on average, than stand-up meetings. You might also want to consider a walking meeting (said to be preferred by Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson.)
6. BLOCK YOUR TIME
Setting aside blocks of time in your calendar makes it easier to concentrate on difficult tasks. If you know the time of day when you are best able to focus, try blocking it off with the intent of tackling your most challenging work.
Batching similar activities (emails, phone calls, etc.) makes it easier on your brain by reducing the switching between different types of tasks.
7. GET MORE SLEEP
Americans, on average, get 90-minutes less sleep than the recommended eight hours a night. The same is true in the UK and Japan. Yet, in some professions, staying at the office late into the night is viewed as admirable and there is still an incorrect perception that sleeping is for lazy people.
Check out these 7 benefits of getting enough sleep:
Sleep is essential for the reproductive system.
Sleep regulates insulin and blood glucose levels.
Sleep reboots your entire body; including your brain.
Sleep regulates appetite, weight, and food consumption.
Sleep boosts your immune system.
Sleep improves memory.
Sleep enhances problem-solving.
8. TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Email notifications (the little box that floats in and out or the ding when you receive a new email) has the effect on your brain as if you've been up for 36 hours straight or as if your IQ dropped by 10 points. This is true, even if you do not click on it to look at the email. Your brain has been distracted from its focus. This notification is a default and was necessary (not that long ago) when we needed a reminder to check our email. Do you really need that reminder?
9. AVOID TASK SWITCHING
Focusing on one (and only one) task at a time will result in better work in less time with fewer errors and less stress.
What we refer to as multitasking is more often task switching (not doing two things simultaneously but rather, switching rapidly from one task to another and then back again.) Research from Stanford University shows that task switching negatively impacts productivity,
At the end of each day, spend 10 minutes reviewing your to-do list and prioritizing what is most important. Then, use your calendar to schedule times to work on your most important tasks. This will help you re-focus on what is critical and enable you to sleep better at night. If you show up at the office the next morning, and priorities have changed, you will be in a better position to handle crises, be flexible, and adjust your schedule.
Have I missed anything that you have on your list of top productivity tips?
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