8 Surprising and Science-Backed Ways to Be More Productive
Hey, we get it. After a long day, you can barely muster the energy to find something to watch on Netflix, let alone exercise/catch up on work/tackle your momentous to-do list. But there is a way to improve your productivity—in fact, there are eight. Here, science lends a helping hand to show you how to be a real-life superhero.
Let there be light
A Northwestern University study found that workers who completed tasks in natural light were more productive than those who did so in areas without it. The reason being that a lack of natural lighting affected participants’ circadian rhythms (internal clock), which resulted in lower productivity levels and lower quality of living (yikes). Get thee to a window, stat.
Draw your to-do list
Writing out tasks and ticking them off as you go? Old hat. Instead, get in touch with your inner artiste to sketch that load of laundry or work presentation. A recent study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology found that participants were more likely to remember to do annoying tasks when they drew a picture of them.
The more time you spend working, the more work that gets done, right? Not so. According to research from the University of Illinois, taking scheduled breaks can improve concentration. Conversely, working non-stop can lead to deterioration in performance. If you’re so busy that you can’t even remember to take a break, try using an app like Time Out to make sure you hit pause on the reg.
Adjust your thermostat
Researchers from Cornell University tinkered with the thermostat in an insurance office and found that lower temperatures (68 degrees) resulted in employees making 44 percent more errors and being less productive than when temperatures were warmer (77 degrees). Finally, the evidence you need to win the never-ending thermostat war with Steve from accounting.
Sounds obvious, right? But here’s the kicker—even catching a measly 30 minutes more sleep could seriously improve your productivity levels. That’s according to a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that tested the cognitive abilities, daytime functioning and response time of professional baseball players with 6.3 hours of sleep versus 6.9 hours. The result? Better scores all-around with the extra shut-eye.
Surrounding yourself with plants won’t just help you live longer (and freshen up a dreary space), it can also make you more productive. A study led by Cardiff University monitored two large offices (“lean” and “green”) over a period of months and found that a plant-rich workspace could increase productivity by 15 percent. Go figure.
Juggling multiple projects? Focus on one thing first, finish it and then move on to the next job. That’s according to a study at Stanford University, finding that “people who multitask do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time.”
Choose your desk buddy wisely
A recent study published in Harvard Business Review found that the person sitting next to you could have a serious effect on your productivity. Essentially, if your neighbor is whizzing through her to-do list, that’ll have a spillover effect on you. But here’s the thing—both good and bad behavior is contagious.. So maybe steer clear of the office chatterbox if you’ve got a lot on your plate.