Seven steps: how to increase your energy and productivity at work

Behaviour Change Adviser at Bupa UK
06 September 2016
Laptop open on a bed

How often have you found yourself saying: ‘There are never enough hours in the day’? With longer and longer to-do lists that include work, family and personal goals, it can sometimes feel like we never have the energy to get things done.

Staying energized, focused and productive can seem impossible, especially during the mid-afternoon slump that we all go through. So here are seven of my favourite things you can do to help stay energised and productive throughout the day.

Proritise small tasks

When you write your to-do list, put the small, easy tasks at the top. Research has suggested that when we complete a task, no matter how big or small, we get a rush of the ‘motivation molecule’ dopamine. And that rush can help motivate you for the rest of the day. On the other hand, unfinished tasks can occupy your mind and make it more difficult to concentrate on anything else until they’re finished.

Only check your inbox twice

Try checking your email only twice a day. Studies have shown that an email coming into your inbox can disrupt your concentration for over 20 minutes after you’ve finished checking it. People will be able to reach you by phone for anything urgent, and you can deal with anything else in your allotted email slot. Set a reminder and try to stick to opening your inbox at just those set times.

Take regular breaks

Trying to concentrate for hours at a time is a recipe for disaster, so make sure you take regular breaks. Desktime, a productivity app that tracks computer use, analysed their data and found that the most productive employees worked for 52 minutes then took a 17-minute break. This type of work–break pattern can keep your concentration at higher levels for longer, making you more productive throughout the day.

Do one thing at a time

Multitasking is not possible so don’t even try! When you try to do more than one task at once, your brain constantly flicks between them, resulting in neither of them being done well. Your brain just can’t handle more than one task at a time. So prioritise one task and complete it to the best of your abilities before moving on to the next task.

Choose your environment

Work out the level of stimulation that suits you best. People are broadly defined as either extroverts, who get their energy from being around other people, or introverts, who prefer quiet and solitude to recharge. Open plan offices are everywhere, which can be difficult for introverts, who find the hustle and bustle distracting. Meanwhile, extroverts can find a silent office not stimulating enough. Monitor how you’re feeling and take a cue from there. Try to work from home for some peace and quiet for example, or work from a local coffee shop if you need a background hum of noise.

Plan your diet and exercise

The last thing you want to hear when you have too much on your plate is to take care of your diet and exercise. However this is vital to performing at your best. Certain foods aid brain power and concentration. And exercise has been shown to have immediate positive effects on mood and mental sharpness. Taking just 20 minutes to go for a run or plan your meals for the week could be time you get back in increased productivity.

Take a breath

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, try a simple breathing exercise to clear your mind and reduce stress. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can sit down for a few minutes. Breathe deeply in and out, focusing on your breath. Your mind will naturally wander, but when it does, bring it back to just thinking about your breath and the sensation as it enters and leaves your body.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you. 

Juliet Hodges
Behaviour Change Adviser at Bupa UK

What would you like us to write about?


Bupa health insurance

Heart icon

Bupa health insurance aims to provide you with the specialist care and support you need, as quickly as possible. Find out how you could benefit.