Healthy Routines for Greater Productivity

Being more productive starts with establishing routines in your life. While some of those routines are centered around things like being organized at work, others are more personal. Implementing healthy routines in your life are key to success and achieving your personal best.

Sleeping and Eating – Helping You to Stay Productive

Getting at least seven hours of sleep every night is essential for both your mental and physical health. Unfortunately, more than 30 percent of people are failing to achieve this goal. Yet, sleep deprivation will reduce your efficiency and productivity. You’ll make more mistakes and won’t achieve your best.

Getting enough sleep, on the other hand, improves your mood. It also reduces stress, improves memory, boosts creativity, and sharpens focus. You’ll be better able to make good decisions and you’ll get more done.

The quality of your sleep is also important. If you’re getting nine hours of poor-quality sleep, that won’t be as beneficial as six hours of excellent sleep. To improve your sleep quality, you should try to clear your mind and prepare yourself for rest. Avoid using any device with a screen in the two hours before bed. Banish television and phones from the bedroom. Avoid drinking alcohol or eating a heavy meal before bed. Meditating could be a useful tool before bed to clear your mind and help you to sleep better.

However, getting more sleep isn’t the only thing you can do to establish a healthy routine. Eating well is also important for productivity.

Most people think the only benefit of healthy eating is to avoid disease and to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Yet, eating well also has a major positive impact on productivity. Why is this the case?

  • Eating well will increase your alertness and energy levels.
  • It improves your immune system, so you’ll take less time off sick.
  • You’ll sleep better so you’ll have better concentration.
  • You’ll enjoy better mental health and a more positive attitude.

How can you eat more healthily to boost your productivity?

  • Base each meal on starchy foods.
  • Make sure you eat your 5-a-day.
  • Consume more fish, especially oily fish.
  • Eat less sugar and saturated fat.
  • Consume less salt.
  • Drink at least 2 liters of water each day.
  • Eat regularly and don’t miss out on breakfast.

As well as the above tips, there are some golden rules that you should follow.

Avoid eating junk food. This will reduce your alertness. Foods high in saturated and trans fats make you sluggish. Meanwhile, foods with a high sugar content may give you a rapid energy boost, but you’ll experience a crash afterwards. Sugary, fatty snacks may be convenient, but they could seriously damage your productivity.

Take care of how much caffeine you consume. We’re often tempted to drink a cup of coffee if we’re feeling under- productive. However, excessive amounts of caffeine reduce your productivity. Like sugary snacks, excess caffeine gives you an energy spike before a productivity-limiting crash. The best way to remain productive throughout the day is to consume caffeine in moderation. Green tea is a better choice than coffee and will offer you additional health benefits.

Never miss out on breakfast. Even if you don’t feel hungry when you get out of bed, having breakfast helps you to wake up. A protein shake, cup of juice or piece of fruit first thing boosts your productivity. You should choose low GI foods for breakfast whenever possible. Avoid the sugary breakfast cereal or pastries and choose complex carbohydrates like wholegrains. This will ensure you have a steady energy source that will help you stay productive until lunchtime.

Eat small meals frequently throughout the day. This keeps your blood glucose level constant. As a result, you’ll have more energy. If you don’t eat frequently, your blood sugar level will dip too low between meals. It will also cause you to overeat at mealtimes, causing a blood sugar level spike.

This makes your energy level unpredictable and will harm your productivity. Frequent, small meals space out the fuel supply for your body more evenly. You’ll feel more energized, get more done and achieve your personal best in everything you do.

Eat smaller portions at mealtimes, especially at lunch. A huge meal will make you feel sleepy and will reduce your productivity. On the same note, avoid eating any food containing tryptophan on an empty stomach. Foods like poultry, cheese, milk, and certain fish have high tryptophan levels. These make you feel sleepy if you ingest them on an empty stomach.

The best thing to eat on an empty stomach is fruit. Packed with complex sugars and fiber, they break down more slowly in the body. Fruit can also be digested easily. This means you won’t feel the fatigue that occurs with large portions and difficult to digest snacks.

Although some people worry about eating carbohydrates, they aren’t necessarily the enemy. Yes, avoiding simple carbs like cakes or white pasta is advisable. However, wholegrain complex carbs take longer to be digested. This means the energy gained from them gets spread out. This keeps you productive in the long-term.

While you’re thinking about what you should eat, avoid eating meat at lunch and breakfast. Generally, meat is high in fat and it’s high in protein. This makes it harder to digest and will make you feel more tired, impacting on your productivity.

Try to include foods like oily fish and nuts in your diet. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help the brain cells healthy. They also help the body to store carbs as energy, not fat. As a result, you’ll be more alert during the day. Eating more fiber is also a good idea since it helps the body to digest food steadily and slowly. This keeps energy levels on an even keel for better alertness and productivity.

Don’t forget to think about what you drink too. Make sure you drink plenty of water, not just for good health but for better alertness. Staying well-hydrated helps nutrients that provide energy move through the body. It also helps to keep your blood flowing smoothly so your heart pumps more easily.

If you’re tempted to drink alcohol before bed to get a better night’s sleep, note that it’s a bad idea. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep more quickly. However, it makes sleep much less restful. This is because alcohol impacts on how you metabolize food. It also depresses energy levels. Once the alcohol has worn off during the night, you’ll be more likely to wake up. Since staying productive is linked to getting quality sleep, it’s clear that avoiding alcohol before bed is a good idea.

Establishing Routines to Keep Your Day on Track

Establishing healthy routines keep your day on track and help you to stay productive. Creating a morning routine to wake you up and an evening routine that helps you to unwind is important. With a clear pattern to the day, you’ll know what’s coming next. This saves you the time involved in thinking about what to do. It also helps you to feel that you’re accomplishing more in your available time.

Productive people are aware of what they must do before the time comes to do it. Remember that failure to plan is planning to fail. Make planning for the day ahead part of your evening routine. This will ensure you have a clear purpose and mission when you get up in the morning.

Set your alarm early. Most people perform at their best in the first couple of hours after getting up (assuming they’ve had good- quality sleep). If you usually crawl out of bed half an hour before work begins, change this habit. Get up at least two hours before you go to work. You can use this super-productive time to get more done.

Develop a clear evening routine too that promotes restful sleep. Switch off the laptop and phone a couple of hours before bed.

Take a warm bath and drink a soothing milky drink. Try reading a book to relax you before you finally drift off. As we’ve already pointed out, getting sufficient good-quality sleep is imperative for productivity.

Plan at least ten minutes in your day when you do absolutely nothing. Whether you choose to meditate as we mentioned earlier or simply relax, it’ll help clear your mind. With just a short space of time in which to wind down and do nothing, you’ll improve your overall focus.

Add working out into your daily routine. When your body is healthy, your mind is healthy. Do you think you lack sufficient time in your day to exercise? Then remember you’ll perform ten times better when your body and mind benefit from the boost in its energy levels.

Planning a nap into your day can also work wonders. Napping for between 20 and 60 minutes daily allows your body and brain to rest. During this time, you’ll be able to organize information in your brain. You’ll also feel energized and ready to work harder when you wake up.

Each day, plan time in your evening schedule to reflect on your day. Rewind the happenings in your mind and think about everything that went well as well as everything that went wrong. You’ll gain helpful insights and you’ll be better able to devise plans for a better tomorrow.

Add all these elements into your daily plan and you’ll be much more productive.

Identify Your Productive Times

Everyone has specific times of the day when they’re most productive. Perhaps for you, it’ll be early in the morning, or late in the evening. The key is to identify those times. When you’ve done so, you can schedule your toughest tasks for those hours.

There are, naturally, moments in every day when you’re more focused, energetic and productive. When you need to focus on a specific task, it makes sense to schedule it for one of those moments. This will ensure you apply your best efforts to the task at hand.

Most people have their productive times in the morning. The first two hours after waking are often the best. However, this isn’t true for everyone. You need to be in tune with your body rhythms to identify your peak hours.

To do this, you need to pay attention not to the clock but to your own body. If you force yourself to do your hardest work when you lack energy and focus, you’ll just burn out. Therefore, you need to focus on the way you feel. Be aware of when your energy level is dipping. Evidence shows that the human mind craves a break after 90 minutes of working intensely. Be aware of the signals that your body is sending you. Do you feel sleepy, fidgety? Hungry? Those could be signs you need a short break.

When you’re in tune with your productivity curve, you can plan your hardest tasks into your most productive window. Then, what do you do with the remainder of your day?

Getting the toughest task done every day makes you feel accomplished. However, during the remainder of your time, you should be working on progressing urgent tasks. You can also catch up on updates, meetings and communications. Just because you aren’t at your most productive doesn’t mean you should get nothing done.

Plan tasks to suit your energy levels at each stage of the day.

  • At times of low energy levels, plan phone calls, emails and meetings.
  • At times of higher energy, plan urgent work and daily tasks.
  • At your peak productivity hours, plan to do the most challenging jobs.
  • At your lowest energy level, take a break.

Remember that spending more time working doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get more work done. Quality time is more important than the length of time. So, plan your focus to suit your energy levels and you’ll be more productive overall.

Images courtesy of:
Engin Akyurt, Free-Photos, Pixabay, Karolina Grabowska

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Healthy Routines for Greater Productivity

Part 5 of Peak Productivity Series
Pam Byc
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