A New Way To Be More Productive
Hack Your Productivity
Everybody wants to be more efficient and productive. For years I’ve been searching for the golden mean between minimum effort verses maximum output.
This has lead me on some strange and wonderful trials that overall have helped me to know what works for me as compared to those things that don’t.
In this post I’ll share with you my trail of discovery that lead to me finding a new productivity hack that has changed the way I work and I hope that you will find useful too.
Feeling tired when you have a school, work, or personal deadline looming really is the worst. No matter how many cups of coffee is drunk or how many breaks that you take, nothing seems to be making the difference.
The effect of tiredness on your work can be compared to working after having a few drinks at lunch time. This in itself can make you feel frustrated and decrease your productivity even more.
That’s without taking into account the effect on the quality of your work. At best, the drop in quality in your work can be seen as you not putting in enough effort, at worst, being incompetent.
Tiredness Was Wining, I Wasn’t
The Slog (or the grind), can really demotivate you and sap your will to carry on when you are tired. We all have bad days once in a while, but when they become more frequent they can be quite worrying.
I my case I found myself making avoidable mistakes and had difficulty in focusing on my tasks. Not only did this have the effect of me looking less than capable, but also started to mess with my own view of my skills. It got to the point where I was constantly second guessing myself just to make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes (which in turn affected how much work I could get done)!
- Affects your memory
- Reduces your concentration
- And can negatively effect your motivation
Look out for these tiredness symptoms whilst working, to identify if your work efficiency and quality are reducing:
- Heavy head
- Watering eyes
- Heavy eyelids
- Loss of interest
- Poor concentration
- Not wanting to talk to anyone
The best hack isn’t really a hack, but more common sense, and that is to get enough sleep. How much is enough? That depends on you and your body but as a rule of thumb make sure you get enough sleep so that you don’t feel tired during the following day.
To find this out, make a point of going to bed at the same time every day for a week, so that you have enough time when you wake up to still get ready for the day ahead. Note what times you wake up and how you felt during the next day. By the end of the week you should have a rough guide to your body’s sleeping rhythms and how long to sleep for.
Other hacks include:
- Get good quality sleep as well as quantity.
You’ll find that having good quality sleep can actually reduce the time that you spend sleeping. What is good quality sleep? According to the National Sleep Foundation:
- Sleeping more time while in bed (at least 85 percent of the total time)
- Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
- Waking up no more than once per night; and
- Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
What is Good Quality Sleep? | National Sleep Foundation
- Where possible reduce your workload or reorganise it.
Make sure to prioritise your sleep, work and play (in that order). If your workload becomes too great, then try to reschedule or don’t commit to taking on new work until you have cleared your current tasks. Whatever you do, try not to cut into your sleep time.
- Avoid caffeine in all its shapes and forms after midday.
This will be tough for some, but caffeine can stay in your system up to 8 hours after ingesting it. And as caffeine is known to reduce the quality of your sleep, it can make you feel even more tired after the effects of caffeine have worn off.
- Don’t nap for more than 25 minutes during the day.
And avoid sleeping after dinner!
The New Way
Using the above mentioned points as a guide has helped me to feel less tired during the day, especially whilst working. I have also increased the amount of exercise that I do, am drinking more water and getting better results because of it.
However, the biggest productivity hack where I could see the results immediately was when I started testing our app V-CAF Stay Awake Stay Alert.
The idea behind the app was to have an alert that would tell us when we are on our way to being tired or sleepy so that we could take a natural break. This way we could consistently produce high quality work by not working whilst we are tired.
V-CAF Stay Awake Stay Alert does just that. It’s an Apple Watch app that works with your heart rate to alert you when you are tired. The alert is a vibrating nudge (if the Apple Watch is in silent mode, otherwise an alarm and nudge), which discreetly lets you know that you need to take a break.
I’ve used V-CAF while in meetings and working, and it’s great. In meetings it’s kept me focused on the discussions that can seem to go on forever, and whilst working its kept me from working long stretches without breaks by notifying me that alertness levels have dropped.
Although no one thing listed can keep you more awake than getting enough sleep, using V-CAF in combination with the suggestions in this post has made a big difference in the teams’ and my productivity.
From Here Onwards
Get enough good quality sleep. Nothing beats that. Make it a priority and stick with it!
That said, using the other suggestions in this post will help you to get good quality sleep daily.
There are no shortcuts to productivity, but there are things that you can do to help improve it, and number one on that list is to reduce your tiredness.