Do you feel like your life is running against the clock? Do you feel negative and tired even before reaching your workplace? Do you find it hard to take time out of your schedule for lunch? Does all of this make you stay late at work, go in early, and squeeze your lunches in between meetings?
Today, we live in extremely busy environments with multiple challenges and projects to take care of, and we feel the constant pressure to accomplish more. This makes us invest more time, but because time is limited, we feel overworked and stressed out.
This has made productivity extremely important. People who want to reach their goals and be successful know the importance of getting more done in less time, both in their workplace and in life in general. Increased productivity can add more financial stability to your life, increase the morale of your team members at work, help you remain stress- and disease-free, and attract more happiness and stability into your life.
Below are three science-backed activities that will add more energy, liveliness, and productivity into your life without adding more hours to your eight-hour work day.
3 Science-Backed Techniques for Getting More Done in Less Time
If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.
– David Allen
1. Set timelines for each task
There is a lot of power in deadlines. We always think that we will prepare and then present once the preparation is done, but the fact of the matter is that preparation never starts until we know how much time we have.
Parkinson’s law says that if we don’t set timelines, we will take forever to complete a task.
When our mindset is such that we feel we have a lot of time, we fill that time with unimportant things. However, when we shorten the time frame by force and set deadlines, we work with an intention to complete the job and put all our attention to it to get the work done in less time. I remember when I was in high school, my principal used to say that we would devote more time to studying if we were given a one-day leave between two exams than if we were given five days.
2. Do not consume negative news items before going to work
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a preliminary study that found that just three minutes of viewing negative news in the morning had a substantial and long-term effect on our mood, overall performance, and well-being. In this experiment, one group watched negative news for three minutes before 10am, while another group watched solution-focused news for the same amount of time. The negative news group reported a 27% greater likelihood of having an unhappy day as compared to the second group, bearing in mind that happiness or unhappiness has been strongly linked to productivity.
When we go to our office or workplace with a mindset that says we are not able to control things, we approach our work and challenges accordingly. This negative mindset, called “learned helplessness,” is characterized by depression and decreased productivity.
Only watch the news if you are sure that the items presented will be solution-focused. Mainstream television news channels will never be so. While commuting to work, on your phone or car, don’t put a random radio show on that might dump unnecessary or negative information on your mind. On Facebook and others social media sites, there are a lot of news pages and groups that present news with a positive or inspiring take. Like those pages and subscribe to those channels. You must choose to listen to or watch anything that is empowering and geared towards solutions.
3. Grab a breather outside and get closer to nature
Nature has a wonderful way of calming the mind, restoring our spirits, providing moments of peace and quiet, and expanding our mindset. A series of research studies conducted at the University of Rochester and published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that being amidst nature makes people feel more energetic and alive.
Richard Ryan, the professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education who conducted the study, said, “Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.” Hence, whenever you feel the need to take a break, go outside and breathe in some fresh air instead of reaching for more caffeine.
And if you can’t go outside? Research suggests that even just being by a window can boost your mood and performance. Have you ever noticed how much your energy levels and mood are impacted by the weather? That’s because sunlight gives us the focus and freshness we need to perform better. A study conducted by the California Energy Commission found that employees who sat near a window in their office processed calls 6-12% faster and fared better on tests that involved mental function and memory recall by 10-15%.
Everyone gets the same 24 hours, no more and no less. However, if we adopt a few science-backed habits to enhance our productivity, we can get more done in less time, get an edge over others, and increase our overall quality of life.