Being productive is something we probably all wish we could be. We seek out ways to make ourselves more productive and can get pretty down on ourselves when we lack the ability to be productive.
In truth, in today’s day in age, it’s never been harder to be consistently productive.
We are swarmed with opportunities to have our attention drawn in unproductive ways.
We sit down at our computers and demand that we work harder and better…but you’ve just found this iPhone game in the app store, and you just cannot previous high score on Angry Birds!!!!!…this of course was an example given to me by my friend, nothing to do with my own experiences…cough cough.
As much as smartphones and new technology can be hugely beneficial, they can also be misused and can be a major distraction for us in our attempts to be productive.
How then do we become more productive?
How do we learn to get rid of distractions and not let them be a part of the reason why we struggle to get our best work done?
Well, as always, psychology is here to help!
Psychological research and psychological principles can help us learn how to be more productive.
So, what does the research say we should do?
A study in 2011 showed that exercise helps not only young child to stay focussed but adults too, meaning that if you invest time in exercise then you are going to consistently see improvements in your ability to be more productive.
Now, studies have shown that different forms of exercise help focus and productivity in different ways.
Short bursts help with short-term attention spans.
However, studies have shown that those that perform 10 hours of exercise a week have sustained attention spans.
So the more we invest in exercise, exercising consistently and over a longer period of time, then the more likely we are to see improvements in our attention and thus our productivity.
Spend time with nature
Studies have shown the huge mental and emotional benefits of spending time outside in natural environments can have.
So much so that spending time in nature is becoming a more common treatment for children with ADHD, with great effect.
Even as much as simply viewing trees and greenery from your window can have massive benefits for calmness and increasing productivity, studies have suggested.
The benefits of having an ability to be in nature are huge for our productivity levels.
However, not everyone can leave their desk at lunch and head out into the woods…really only Bear Grylls does this.
So, what else can you do?
Well, these studies that look at how nature influences our productivity levels showed that just having some plants in your office can have a similar impact on productivity.
So, the bottom line here is, if you can’t get out in the woods often then buy a Ficus.
Turn off your distractions
In 2015 the Journal of Experimental Psychology published a study that suggested that a distraction lasting just 2.8 seconds can double a person’s chances of making errors in their work.
Distractions are the enemy to productivity.
They are the anti-productivity so to speak.
As a result, they need to be destroyed…well not totally, they at least need to be turned off.
This is an easy thing to consider, but hard to do. What I would say here is, turn your phone off for an hour a day and build it up from there.
Take regular brief mental breaks
You might think working on something for hours means productivity.
You might think that because you haven’t got off your desk chair in 7 hours then you have been productive.
However, more often than not the exact opposite is the case.
You need to take regular mental breaks if you are going to experience increases in productivity.
There’s a difference between being busy and being productive.
The Journal of Cognition published a study in 2011 that found that people that took short breaks of about 5 minutes every 50 minutes were far more productive than those that took no breaks.
So the bottom line here is, take regular breaks away from your work and watch your productivity increase