Seven ways to increase your energy and productivity at work

Juliet Hodges
Senior Advisor in the Behavioural Insights Team at Bupa UK
23 January 2019
Next review due January 2022

Staying focused and maintaining your energy and productivity throughout the day can certainly feel tricky at times. Here I outline seven things you can do to help yourself perform at your best – give them a try and see how you get on.

1. Prioritise small tasks

When you write your to-do list, put the small, easy tasks at the top. Research suggests that when we complete something, 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. Conversely, unfinished business can occupy your mind and make it more difficult to concentrate on anything else until you get the job done!

2. Check your inbox only twice a day

Studies have shown that it can take over 20 minutes to get your concentration back on track after receiving an incoming email. So shut your emails down and set a reminder to check them only at your allocated times. Remember, for anything urgent people can reach you by phone.

3. Take regular breaks

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

4. Do one thing at a time

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

5. 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 try to work from home for some peace and quiet. Or you may work better from a local coffee shop if you need a background hum of noise.

6. Plan your diet and exercise

Certain foods aid brain power and concentration, while exercise has been shown to have immediate positive effects on mood and mental acuity. Making time for exercise and a healthy diet isn’t always easy. But remember, taking just twenty minutes to go for a run or plan your meals for the week could be time you get back in increased productivity.

7. 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 your body.

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Juliet Hodges
Juliet Hodges
Senior Advisor in the Behavioural Insights Team at Bupa UK

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