6 Tips For Staying Alert & Increasing Productivity On The Job

toni September 1, 2015
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We’re always going to have days that are less productive than others, but with a few easy adjustments to your daily routine, you can make yourself a more alert, productive worker! Here are six steps to help focus your mind and increase you work productivity without all the coffee…well, maybe just one cup.

  1. Exercise in the office
    Efficiency in the morning sets the stage for the rest of your day, and nothing sets the stage quite like a good morning workout. However, not all of us have the time (or willpower) to do so. Fear not! Simple exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, and squats can easily be performed at work without the hassle of going to the gym. Instead of pushing yourself like you do in the gym; just exercise enough to get your blood flowing. If you’re sitting most of the time, get yourself up every 20-30 minutes. Consider this: people who stay seated for less than three hours a day add almost two years to their life expectancy (woah). Research also shows that moderate aerobic exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours, too – bonus!
  2. Expose yourself to bright light
    Preferably, natural daylight. Your body’s internal clock is regulated by your exposure to sunlight. This means you can trick your body into believing it should be awake even when it’s tired. If you don’t take breaks from your computer you can end up with headaches, tired and sore eyes, and fatigue due to prolonged exposure to the screen. A brief, well-timed break can do wonders for your mood and productivity. Stepping outside for a quick stretch or even just looking out the window for a minute, will do the trick. Even if you’re in an environment where there’s artificial light, brighter is better. Try adding a lamp to brighten a dark workspace.
  3. Listen to music
    Perk yourself up by listening to music. Music helps us engage many parts of our brains. Pop on some comfy headphones and listen to music that’s energizing to you. Music that’s irritating or jarring may keep you awake better than music that’s familiar. Just do everyone a favor and remember to use headphones! It’s a common misconception that blasting music loud will help keep you awake. In actuality, turning the music down low is more effective because it forces you to try to listen closely in order to hear the instruments, lyrics, and percussion. If you’re having difficulty discerning the lyrics, then the volume is just right, because this means your mind is working.
  4. Be conscious of your diet
    Preoccupying your mouth by having something to chew on makes it almost impossible to fall asleep. However, don’t over do it. Large meals can make you drowsy, thus decreasing productivity. Try eating smaller meals and more healthy snacks throughout the day for sustained energy. Chewing anything, even if it’s just your pen or pencil, causes your body to think you are about to eat. Your body will prepare for food intake by releasing insulin, which will make you more alert. Instead of running to the corner for fast food, bring something from home, like nuts, fruits or vegetables. And rather than one large lunch, pack a couple of smaller snacks.
  5. Get rid of distractions
    Even if you think you are an effective multi-tasker, you’re probably not as good as you think.  When you’re multitasking, you aren’t giving either of the projects your best effort because your brain can only really focus on one thing at a time. One of the biggest distractions is your cell phone. If you’re too tempted to text, or check social media, put it away. The less distractions you have, the more likely you are to focus on the task at hand. Force yourself to work on one task for at least an hour, then reward yourself with a five minute break where you can check your social media, browse the internet or chat it up with a coworker. Rewarding yourself with a small break will prevent overloading your brain and help keep your mind fresh and alert. This will, in turn, help you get more accomplished.
  6. Make your work space “work-friendly”
    It is hard to get anything done when your desk is a cluttered mess. It is distracting and can make it hard for you to focus on one thing at a time. Step one: organize. Put your paperwork into files or a designated filing area. Next, get rid of (or at least put away) anything that you don’t use regularly. Third, check your lighting. Is it making you sleepy because the lights are too dim (see number 2)? And finally, spruce the place up with fun decor like pictures, inspiring quotes, plants, etc. People tend to work better in a nicely decorated space that they’re proud of.
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