How to start your mornings for maximum productivity

moring routine productivity

Do you tend to do the same thing every morning when you wake up?

For some people routines consist of hitting the snooze button a few times, while others may get up and work out right away. Many of us check our phones or read the news to start the day.

Author Laura Vanderkam studied the schedules of high-achievers to see if they started their day in a certain way to give them more productivity.

She found that almost all of them have a morning routine.

Here’s a great round-up (prepared by Eric at Barking Up The Wrong Tree) of what a few experts and high-achievers say is the best way to start your day for maximum productivity.

Make Your Morning Non-Reactive

Take your time to get up and get your day going, without doing things that might dictate your behavior. Avoid checking email immediately or racing to start something before your feet even hit the floor.

New York best-selling author Tim Ferriss tries to start the first 80 to 90 minutes of his day with as little variation as possible. According to Ferriss, a morning routine helps you feel in control, reduces anxiety, and makes you more productive.

By starting your day with reacting to what is thrown at you, you end up not having the time or being too tired to achieve your goals and do what is important.

Allow yourself to wake up before succumbing to the demands of others, and before you become too busy to approach your priorities for the day.

Now that you’ve avoided a reactive morning, what should you do in that time before demands are made of you?

Choose the Top 3 Things That Matter Today

Cal Newport is a professor, published author, father, and a husband.

He is incredibly productive throughout the day, but manages to complete his tasks by 5:30 every evening. How does he find the time to get everything done?

He separates tasks into two different types of work: Shallow and Deep.

Shallow work is equivalent to emails, meetings, and other types of busy work that don’t demand much from your talents but are required to keep your job.

Deep work pushes your abilities to their limits, improves your skills, and produces valuable results. Deep work is what will get you promoted.

The key is to make deep work your priority and spend most of your productivity on these tasks.

You should be specific about the deep work you plan on getting done. An important key to achieving goals is to set concrete goals instead of vague ones.

Now that you’ve decided the three important things for your day, you’ll need to know when to do them.

Use Your Sharpest Hours for Your 3 Goals

It’s scientifically shown that your brain works better for different tasks during different parts of the day.

Dan Ariely, behavioral economist at Duke University and New York Times bestselling author, states that you have about 2.5 hours of peak productivity every day and may be 30 percent more effective during that time. He found that about an hour after waking is when your peak time starts. So, if you wake up at 7:00 a.m., your peak time is from around 8 to 10:30 a.m.

Other studies have shown that your brain is the sharpest for tough tasks two to four hours after waking. Our ability to think clearly and learn varies between 15 and 30 percent over the course of a day. You’ll want to take advantage of the time when you are thinking the clearest and able to learn the most.

Utilize your peak time to work on your three goals, and designate those hours as your “protected time” to avoid being distracted by shallow work and other demands. While the morning hours are the most productive time for most people, you may know that you get the most done at night or in the early afternoon. Whatever your most productive hours are, protect them and do your key tasks during that time.

Having the knowledge of what goals are important and what time you should do them is great, but there’s still the important matter of getting started. How do you get going when you’re not motivated?

Develop a Starting Ritual

Finishing things is less of a problem as getting them started in the first place.

New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg gave some advice to those who struggle with procrastination and motivation. Duhigg stated that developing a ritualized response to starting is an excellent way to beat procrastination. Usually, when people talk about struggling with procrastination, they’re referring to the first step to get started. If you can habitualize the first step, it will make getting started much easier.

The habit can be as simple as getting your first cup of coffee or sitting in a spot where you’re typically productive. In fact, your environment can activate habits without your conscious mind noticing. Your subconscious will gradually learn the association between an action and an outcome.

Once a habit is formed, elements from the context of the habit will serve as a cue to start the desired behavior without a particular goal or intention from the conscious mind.

Even if you’re doing everything right and you went through your starting ritual, you might find that you just can’t get started on your tasks. What should you do then?

Use the Right Kind of Procrastination

Procrastination can be a good thing if it is the right kind.

The number one thing on your list of goals might terrify you, or not seem particularly inviting. But, you can use the time you’re taking to put off starting that task to get many other things done. If you’re not ready for goal one, start with goal two instead. It’s ok to avoid it for now as long as you aren’t turning to things like Facebook or other non-productive distractions.

You can use avoiding the “scariest” task on your list, as a way to trick yourself into ultimate productivity. Make a list of commitments. At the top, put a couple of daunting tasks – maybe even impossible tasks. Further down the list, include some doable tasks that matter and need to be done. You’ll be more inclined to do these less-daunting tasks as a way to avoid the tasks higher up on the list, and you’ll still be highly productive.

While you may procrastinate on one task, you do so by working on a different one. It’s a principle of behavioral psychology that we are willing to complete an unattractive task as long as it lets us avoid doing something worse.


To sum all of this up in some easy-to-follow points, here’s how the experts suggest you gain optimal productivity:

  1. Avoid anything that causes you to have to react before you have a chance to wake up completely. Beginning your day by instantly meeting the demands of others doesn’t allow you to figure out what’s important to you for the day.
  2. Choose the top things that matter today. You won’t have time to achieve every task you set out to do, so select some tasks that are “deep” work that will make a difference. Set no more than three goals of tasks that will allow you to end the day feeling accomplished.
  3. Use your peak productivity hours for those top goals. Typically, this time will be an hour or two after you wake up, but there may be another time for you. Protect those hours to ensure productivity.
  4. Create a starting ritual to help you get your day going. Do the thing or go to the place that tells your brain it’s time to get the day started.
  5. When you just can’t complete the top task on your list, use positive procrastination. Try doing the second task instead. In fact, set a close-to-impossible goal first, as a decoy, which will make the following goals seem that much easier to complete.

A few tips to stay the course with your goals

stick to goals achieve

Sticking to goals is a difficult task, no matter what their severity.

For those facing the daunting tasks of keeping to a New Year’s resolution, the odds are against you, as more than 45% of people end up dropping them after a month.

Given these odds, how can we stay motivated, and how can science help us? Have a look at this video, or keep reading to find out.


In one recent study, two groups of students were given two types of task to complete. The first task the groups were given was to strike two specific keys on a keyboard as many times as they could within four minutes.

One group was told the person who was most efficient would receive $300, while the other group was given a prize pool of only $30. Not surprisingly, the effort and efficiency of the first group was 95% higher, suggesting that money can be a large motivating factor.

However, the same amount of money ($300 and $30) was proposed to both groups during the second task, in which they were told to solve a complex math problem, and the higher-earning group actually held a 32% deficiency in the overall effort and efficiency of their efforts. So, what gives?

Scientists have come to call this the “distraction effect.”

Simply put, when given a task that requires problem-solving and involves economic or social pressure, the amount of thought we give to the motivator (money, in this case) becomes greater, ultimately dividing our focus. This results in lower performance levels at the task.

In recent MRI scan studies, it has been shown that people experience similar positive brain activity both when completing a task for a reward, and for no reward at all.

However, if a person who was previously offered a reward is then asked to perform the same task again without the award, they experience decreases in activity in both the prefrontal and anterior striatum areas of the brain, which are both linked to self-motivation.

Because of this, it is reasonable to come to the conclusion that awards can naturally diminish our enjoyment of things meant to be “play.” They can also reduce our performance levels.

The idea of play, or participating in an enjoyable activity, is one of the greatest motivators for continuing the performance of a task.

This makes sense, which makes it obvious that we may be choosing the wrong activities to reach our goals in some cases (such as buying a gym memberships to lose weight). While a treadmill will burn your calories quickly, it won’t help you out much if you stop after two weeks. Simply put, to reach a goal, you need to find the right activity-motivator balance for you.

Your overall goal is also important to consider. A recent study done on exercise routines found that individuals focused on weight loss spent roughly 32% less time exercising than those who simply wanted to feel better in day-to-day life.

Optimism then seems like the key to success, but it may not be the best strategy in all cases. One study of 210 females who were trying to kick a smoking habit, those who were optimistic about the amount of obstacles they would have to confront to quit, were significantly less successful in actually decreasing the amount of cigarettes they consumed.

This occurs because positive thoughts can sometimes give your brain the same feeling as reaching a goal, which decreases your overall motivation.

However, negative thoughts are not helpful in most scenarios either. Being realistic about the various obstacles in your way, using what is known as “mental contrasting” is perhaps the best way to tackle goals such as weight loss, and quitting smoking.

Finally, you must always try to avoid the “what the hell” effect. This occurs when you say “what the hell” after participating in one negative behavior, and allow that to lead you to more negative behaviors that continually push you away from your goals.

For example, if you were attempting a fat-free diet, and broke it to eat an ice cream, you would be suffering from the “what the hell” effect if you then let that allow you to be seduced by more fattening foods.

Once again, it is important to be realistic about the obstacles you will face along the way. Do not let one small mistake snowball into a complete relapse of your progress. You can always get back on the horse of progress.

Simple ways to reduce the stress and pressure of work email

email stress at work

Technology has make it easy for us to access and reply to email 24/7.

Taking advantage of this, many organizations have an unwritten etiquette, for employees to be available on email even after they have left the workplace and often at odd hours.

While such flexibility can increase productivity, it can also have a negative impact on the well-being of employees, especially given the huge number of emails that can flow through some organizations. This in turn can lead to negative outcomes for organizations.

According to a workplace experience study performed by the London-based Future Work Centre, emails are a sort of “double-edged sword” due to their nature of being simultaneously useful and highly stressful.

The study interviewed nearly 2,000 people working across a range of industrial sectors, about the pressures associated with email.

Among other things, their findings revealed individuals who experienced higher stress and pressure from email, had the following habits:

  • Checking emails early in the morning and late at night.
  • Leaving email push notifications on all day.

The push notifications had a particularly “strong relationship” with perceived pressure and stress. Many people found that immediate notifications as soon as an email arrived, resulted in feelings of instant tension and worry.

These email stressors had negative effects at both work and home, putting stress on both environments, and causing poor performance at both locations.

Speaking on the issue, lead author Dr. Richard MacKinnon stated, “Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it’s clear that it’s a source of stress of frustration for many of us.” Continuing his statements, MacKinnon said, “The people who reported it being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure. But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organizational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and wellbeing.”

The amount of pressure found in those surveyed was more intense in younger participants, and the pressure amounts slowly decreased the older the subject was. When looking at which industries were most affected by email pressures, marketing, IT, PR, and media participants found email stressors affected their lives the most. Of these groups, more than 30% received 50+ emails a day, and 65% had push notifications turned on.

Digital distraction and productivity experts suggest that some simple/practical ways to manage the pressure of email are to:

  1. Turn instant email notifications off, or at least limit them.
  2. Only open and check your email during certain allotted times of the day, when you want to use email. Keep this frequency as low as possible. This ensures that you use email as per your preferences, rather than revolving around it.
  3. Avoid checking email first thing in the morning and late at night.
  4. Move email discussions that can be had in-person or over the phone, to those mediums.
  5. Observe your email checking patterns and see which instances are really needed. Are you checking and responding to the emails because it’s really necessary, or just because you are assuming you need to. Experiment and see what happens if you don’t reply to certain messages after you’ve left work.

Need to stop procrastinating? Science says, use your ‘Hunger Games’

how to stop procrastinating

Are you looking to stop procrastinating in your day-to-day life/work?

Well, you’re in luck, as a technique exists that allows you to do what you enjoy, in order to put an end to procrastinating things you don’t find as appealing.

It is known as “temptation bundling.”

Strangely enough, this technique originated from The Hunger Games movie.

The developer of this technique, Katherine Milkman absolutely adores audiobooks, especially The Hunger Games. She to wasn’t being regular enough with her exercise, so she made herself a deal: she could only listen to the audiobooks at the gym.

The results: she began going to the gym every day of the week!

You may be thinking to yourself: so what? Just because this worked for one person, doesn’t mean it will work for me.

However, Katherine Milkman is a professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. And after her personal success, she went about researching whether or not her technique could be used to help other people.

Eventually, she found evidence that her “temptation bundling” technique worked for others as well.

To begin using this approach to reach your goals, simply replace ‘The Hunger Games audio book’ with something you love, and ‘the gym’ with whatever area you want to stop procrastinating in!

Do you love chocolate but hate going over your personal finances? Treat yourself to some goodies while going over all your expenses.

You will be tempted to cheat. And you might eat chocolate at other times as well, which kind of negates the effect of the perk. So how can you manage this?

  1. Only enjoy the treat when you are doing a task. Katherine found that people did especially well at completing tasks and avoiding procrastination, when their access to the treat was restricted.
  2. Punish yourself if you do not follow through on your commitment. Also get family/friends involved as ‘regulators’ who monitor your progress and give out reward/punishment. Listen to this podcast and read this article on the Freakonomics website for more information on this techniques.

Improve your productivity and health, by saying ‘no’ the right way

how to say no

If you want to lead a productive and healthy life, one important thing you need to learn is how say “no.”

Amongst other things, here are 2 benefits of being able to say no.

  1. By being able to reject unnecessary activities/commitments as well as distractions, you will have more time to do what’s most important and also more time to recover from other obligations. You can be more productive.
  2. Saying clear of temptations can make you more likely to achieve your health/fitness goals.

The question remains, however: how does one avoid such distracting, wasteful, frustrating and tempting things?

While this is certainly a big obstacle, research is starting to show that tackling it can be done with small changes. More specifically, it can be achieved by making small changes in the words that you use.

One recent study by the Journal of Consumer Research found that in a group of 120 students, saying “I can’t” vs. “I don’t,” actually made a huge difference.

The participants were split into two groups and were assigned one of the two phrases. Each time a member of either group was faced with a temptation (e.g. eating cake), they were to say their assigned phrase (i.e. I can’t eat cake vs. I don’t eat cake).

After this activity was finished, each participant was asked to answer an unrelated set of questions. They then had to turn in their answer sheet, and were offered an unhealthy candy bar, or a granola health bar.

Those that used the phrase “I can’t” choose to eat the candy bar 61% of the time, while the “I don’t” participants only fell to the temptation of the candy bar 35% of the time.

Participants who told themselves that they “don’t” do something were able to resist temptation and say “no” more often.

Simply put: using certain words make you more likely to stick to good habits, and avoid bad ones!

To further this hypothesis, the researchers came up with a second study.

30 working women were asked to participate in a “health and wellness seminar,” where they had to discuss wellness/health goals they found important, and wanted to dedicate themselves to more thoroughly.

After this was done, the women were split into the following three types of groups:

  • #1 – Were told to simply “just say no” when tempted to fail their goals.
  • #2 – Were told that anytime they were tempted they should say they “can’t” perform the conflicting task.
  • #3 – Were told to use the more definitive, “I don’t” in response to activities that tempted them to fail in their goals.

For a 10-day period after the groups were sorted, the women were told, “During the 10–day window you will receive emails to remind you to use the strategy and to report instances in which it worked or did not work. If the strategy is not working for you, just drop us a line and say so and you can stop responding to the emails.”

Similar to the other study, those who said that they “don’t” do something tended to be much more successful in keeping disciplined. In fact, 8 out of the 10 members of group #3 were able to persist with their goals for the entire 10-day period!

Compare this with the 3/10 score for the “just say no” group, and the 1/10 score of the “can’t” group, and you begin to see how powerful word choice can be!

You’re probably asking yourself: why does “I don’t” work so much better than “I can’t?”

Words are tools for empowering yourself to stay in control during various situations.

Saying “I can’t” puts you into a negative feedback loop that reminds you of your potential limitations, while saying “I don’t” creative a positive feedback loop that reminds you of your ability to take control of the situation at hand.

For a more intellectual take on this phenomena, let’s look at what Heidi Grant Halvorson, the director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University has to say on the topic: “I don’t” is experienced as a choice, so it feels empowering. It’s an affirmation of your determination and willpower. “I can’t” isn’t a choice. It’s a restriction; it’s being imposed upon you. So thinking “I can’t” undermines your sense of power and personal agency.”

There will never be a time in your life where the ability to say “no” effectively will not come in handy.  Doing so is important for your productivity (at work or otherwise) and also your physical/mental health.

Hopefully these tips will be helpful!

3 Cures To Save Yourself From The Useless Meeting Epidemic

producitve office meetings

Bad meetings are an unfortunate experience that many of us have to go through more often than we would like to.

Following a recent piece on how to make meetings more productive, I wanted to share a few more ways to save yourself and your fellow employees from constant bad meetings at your workplace.

If you want to make meetings more enjoyable, useful and less of a drag, try out the 3 tips outlined in this video and article.

  1. Avoid MAS (Mindless Accept Syndrome)

Many people accept meeting invitations without looking over the content twice.

While it may seem useful to attend as many meetings as possible, it is actually counterproductive and a waste of time to attend meetings where you are not actively participating.

A simple memo can save you and other non-needed participants the wasted time of taking part in an overstuffed meeting.

  1. Keep it Focused

Having a specific goal for meetings before holding them seems obvious, but many people fail to make the purpose of a meeting clear in an invitation.

If people in your workplace make a conscious effort to sum up the purpose of a meeting within 5 or less words, you will find that people will be much better equipped to avoid MAS in the first place.

Additionally, this will make the content of the meeting much simpler to condense into a memo/email that might follow.

How do you encourage people to keep things focused? Read the next tip for one tactic.

  1. Be Vocal About Useless Meetings

When you receive a poor meeting invitation, either press the maybe or tentative option and ask the person to clarify on the goals of a meeting.

If you do this, you can avoid meetings that will waste your time.

With a more thorough explanation of what is going on in the meeting, you will be able to successfully and professionally avoid a meeting by articulating in a clear fashion why your time could be spent better with another task or agenda.

By implementing these three tips in your day-to-day work life, you will be prepared to slowly weed out burdensome meetings that kill your valuable productivity.

The more you constantly press your colleagues about the content of meetings, the more aware they will become as well about the usefulness (or uselessness) of the meetings they are proposing/preparing for.

5 Practical Ways To Avoid Unproductive Meetings

more productive meetings

Having focused and productive meetings feels great.

However, not all meetings are productive. Some can be exactly the opposite.

So here are a few have to help you and your team have productive meetings, more often than not.

1. Keep it Short

Meetings have the tendency to get off track or trail on into unproductive territory if you keep things going for too long.

Keep meetings to 18 minutes or less.

If there is a time limit placed on the meeting, people are more likely to stay on track and give the meeting their full attention.

There’s a reason why TED talks are often kept to 18 minutes. Beyond that and people start zoning out.

2. Use a Timer

This one’s just common sense. No point setting a time limit if you don’t stick to it.

It can be easy to go over time if you don’t have something to keep you accountable and on schedule.

Setting up a timer, and someone to be accountable for paying attention to it, will help you stay on schedule.

3. Stand Up

Sitting is unhealthy and standing during your day is good for health.

However, beyond the health benefits, standing-up during meetings makes people more creative, productive, open/receptive and team oriented, according to a study at the Business School of University of Washington.

Since the meeting will be a short 18-minutes, you will have the ability to do so without wearing people out.

You can also consider a walking meeting, which can be quite productive and creative, as per research at Stanford University.

4. Cut Out Laptops & Cell Phones

Everyone knows that a meeting can useless unless someone is taking notes to keep everyone aware of what happened.

Additionally, requiring note taking is a great way to make sure staff is actively participating with the meeting.

However, how your employees take notes is important.

Most people will use laptops during meetings; however, the potential for distraction is maximized on these devices and conceptual understanding of participants is lower. This is as per a study at the University of California and Princeton University.

So try going back to the old way of taking notes, with a pencil and notepad.

Speaking of technology, cell phones are another way that meetings can become unfocused.

Having a box to check cellphones in before a meeting, can be a great way to keep people from being distracted, or being interrupted during the meeting. 18 minutes is short enough of a time for most tasks to wait it out.

You also want to keep in mind, that according to research by USC’s Marshall School of Business, your boss and colleagues are annoyed every time you use a cell phone during meetings.

5. Don’t Overbook

Meetings are important for keeping people involved/aware of progress and obstacles.

However, having too many people a meeting can be difficult to handle and unproductive.

In a study outlined in the book 5 Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization, it was found that the ideal number of people, especially in decision-making meetings should be 7. Any additional attendee in the meeting will reduce effectiveness by 10%. More than 17 people will most likely result in no decision at all.

Best ways to use your breaks during the workday

work break

Break times are bliss, and you want them to stay that way.

Sometimes it can seem like you must skip breaks or wear yourself out with extra work during them, but I’m here to tell you that this is the absolute worse thing you can do during the workday.

Skipping your break will stress you out and decrease your overall performance, scientific studies show.

Instead, you should be giving both your body and mind a valuable break during these periods so that you can better concentrate on your work and be inspired after your break is over.

Knowing how to best relax and unwind during your break time is important, so try out some of these ideas next time you find yourself taking a break from the workday.


Being surrounded by electronic buzzes and bright screen displays all day is enough to make any mind tired and achy.

Try separating yourself from all electronic devices during your break time for a full refresh.

I know this can be difficult for some of you social media addicts out there, but trust me; there are many benefits to be had from this simple practice.

Stand Up

Nobody feels good if they have been sitting all day. Get away from your desk and stand up.

While you’re at it, go ahead and do some stretches as well.

Your mind and body will thank you, and you will be reenergized in a way that simply would not have happened if you had stayed strapped to your office chair.

There are many health benefits from doing this as well.

Go For a Walk

Now that you’re up and standing, go beyond stretching and take a nice 15-minute walk.

Whether the walk is around the block, or the office doesn’t really matter, all that really matters is that you’re up and moving around.

This can help you improve your mood, sense of well-being and creativity.

Take a Power Nap

Sometimes you simply want to knock out for a few after a particularly stressful work task, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If you feel like taking a little power nap to reenergize and distress, go for it!

Even a 10 minute nap can work wonders.


Don’t make your day void of any human contact.

Get out and say hi to some of your fellow co-workers and friends to help avoid the workplace blues.

The less down you are, the more up you will be for knocking out that new report the boss wants to be done by Tuesday.

How McDonalds can help your ideas and projects at work

ideas brainstorming

Do you have friends that you simply cannot motivate to decide on a place to eat?

Try this trick: recommend you eat at McDonald’s.

Most people will immediately begin to protest and throw out better recommendations in retaliation to the terrible suggestion.

Applying the McDonald’s theory (coined by Jon Bell) is a great way to get people contribute good/alternative ideas and not fall into a cycle of continuous non-decision-making.

In its essence, the theory allows people to create good ideas to combat bad ones presented to them. While applying this technique works great for having friends decide on a restaurant, it can be applied to business as well with good results.

When coming up with an idea for work, or beginning a new project, getting started and taking the first step is often one the hardest things to achieve.

So once you have the first inkling of an idea, do not hesitate about it for days, but just start sketching it out or brainstorming about the idea.

Encourage your employees/teammates to do the same in the workplace.

The next time you’re in a room discussing/brainstorming something during the early phases of a project and find that things are moving slow, just get up and write down any ideas you have in your head.

Even if the idea you begin pursuing is not very good when originally presented, it will help kick start the group into responsive action, where they will add some great or at least better ideas to the discussion. (You might want to mention at some point that you were trying the theory, so it doesn’t look like you come up with bad ideas all the time 🙂 )

You will be surprised at how well this idea works once you put it into action.

Save time, improve your mood and lower your stress levels, by managing distractions at work

distractions at work

Let’s face it, we all get distracted at work. Unfortunately, it’s a reality that is simply unavoidable.

In fact, go ahead and take the time you think you get distracted each day at work, and multiply that number by at least 25: now you might actually have a realistic number for the amount of minutes you spend distracted at your workplace every day.

What makes matters worse is that getting your full concentration back and returning to your previous state on a task, takes around 25 minutes on average. This statistic comes from Gloria Mark, a professional who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine. Don’t just take her word for this phenomenon, however, as many studies from a wide range of backgrounds confirm this information.

So the next time you face a distraction it is important to remember that the “5 minutes it will take to have conversations on WhatsApp,” will actually be more like 30 minutes of wasted time. If you want to ensure your performance stays in a tip-top position at your job, you must concentrate on managing these distractions actively.

Distractions do not only hurt your productivity and success, however, but also negatively affect your mood. Writing in the New York Times, Gloria Mark states, “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood, and lower productivity.”

Looking more thoroughly at the research Mark undertook can give a better idea of this problem.

In her study, observers were sent to semi-secretly observe workers in various tech and finance companies for a period of three and a half days. During their observation, they logged each worker’s activities and timed the amount of time they spent on every task.

One interesting aspect that was discovered during these studies was how often workers switched tasks while they worked. On average, the workers at these companies switched tasks every three minutes and five seconds!

Often switching was the result of an interruption, which caused them to have to stop their current task and deal with the other matter. More often than not these interruptions were self-inflicted, and could have been avoided through a more concentrated and dedicated approach to their work. Facebook, for example, was one of the biggest threats to their continued ability to concentrate and stay focused.

Speaking on the matter, Mark stated, “People have to shift their cognitive resources, or attentional resources, to a completely different topic. You have to completely shift your thinking, it takes you a while to get into it and it takes you a while to get back and remember where you were.”

Not only does this kill the amount of time you are able to spend concentrated, but it also negatively affects the quality of the work that you actually do.

Some of you out there are surely thinking, “I’m the exception to this.” Well, statistically speaking, you are most likely wrong. Peter Drucker, actually warned readers about this mentally all the way back in 1967 with his book “The Effective Executive.” In it, he explained how thinking you are above common problems actually makes you more susceptible to them.

Here is a great passage that illustrates his main point in “The Effective Executive:”

“There was Mozart, of course. He could, it seems, work on several compositions at the same time, all of them masterpieces. But he is the only known exception. The other prolific composers of the first rank – Bach, for instance, Handel, or Haydn, or Verdi – composed one work at a time. They did not begin the next until they had finished the preceding one, or until they had stopped work on it for the time being and put it away in the drawer. Executives can hardly assume that they are ‘executive Mozarts.’”

So instead of trying to be the rarity of an effective multi-tasker, try setting aside specific blocks of time to work on specific tasks uninterrupted instead. You can also set specific times for distractions and interuptions. If you want to excel in the workplace and not waste valuable time, this is a great strategy.

Want to exercise more? Use science to change your perception about why, how and when

exercise more work routine

Exercise is most frequently associated with health benefits such as lower blood pressure, a healthier body weight, or even just a better looking physique.

But just as powerful as exercise is for our body and health, it is equally impactful on the way we think.

Scientific studies have indicated that the strength of our mental capacities is linked to our level of physical activity. Not only does it make our minds sharper and quicker, exercise has a direct relationship to our performance at work.

With exercise incorporated into your daily routine, you can expect to experience better levels of concentration, faster learning abilities, a better memory, improved creativity, and perhaps most importantly lower stress levels.

Besides these benefits, exercise has also been demonstrated to elevate our overall mood thus providing an additional boost to our work performance.

There is also evidence showing that exercising during work hours further increases our performance, as demonstrated in a Leeds Metropolitan University study

The study examined more than 200 employees and asked them to self-evaluate their performance daily. The data was then analyzed on an individual basis to determine how exercise affected their daily work. On days the employees visited the gym, they reported managing time more efficiently, increased productivity, and even better interpersonal interactions with coworkers and clients.

If exercise has so many amazing benefits not only to our health but also to our career, why are not more people finding ways to add it into their lives?

As you know, the number one reason for not exercising is lack of time. While deadlines may bombard you, the scientific evidence keeps coming in support of adding it to your routine.

Since exercise makes us better at work, a total shift in mindset has to occur. Exercise can no longer be viewed as a personal luxury/indulgence but must be considered something that actually will promote increased productivity and performance. In that light, it is something professionals must do.

If exercise is considered a part of our work itself, we will be more likely to do it. To help you get this vital activity into your daily routine, these three scientifically-backed tips can help you get started.

1. Find a Type of Exercise You Like

Now more than ever, exercise does not have to be boring.

If running on a treadmill or sitting on a stationary bike, bring tears of boredom to your eyes, you’re not limited to those activities.

Every year unique forms of exercise keep being developing including Zumba, CrossFit, and hundreds of other ways to stay fit. You can run, swim, bike, play tennis, or even rock out behind a drum set.

If you enjoy the activity, you’re likely to engage in it more often.

recent study revealed that how we feel while exercising also affects the results and finding one you like actually makes a difference.

The study shows that when exercise is something we do for fun rather than as a chore that “needs to get done,” we get a lot better at resisting unhealthy foods afterwards. This is because we don’t use up our willpower reserves to get ourselves to exercise.

2. Make Exercise Social and Dependent on You

As you’ve probably experienced before before, exercising in a group can boost your levels of participation while making it more fun.

When you find a fun social exercise environment, you’re more likely to keep doing it and find sustained benefits.

When you and a friend are planning on going to the spin class together during lunch, it also gets a lot harder to back out of the commitment.

But new research has demonstrated that every group class/activity might not provide the same benefit. When other people become dependent on our participation, we are much more likely to follow through.

Consider a yoga class. While you are in a group environment, each individual is working alone in the presence of others. Whereas if you’re part of a team, such as during doubles tennis or a game of football, your participation becomes integral to the activity.

The team’s success depends on you and if you bail on it, others will suffer.

3. Focus on Improvement & Invest in the Activity

The difference between “just working out” and mastering a task is enormous.

When mastery goals become a focus, you’ll be eager to attain a new level of competence at the form of exercise. This encourages you to work harder and improve.

Another way to boost your commitment level is to buy the right clothing, invest in a coach, or sign up for the class.

By putting up some money, you’ll be more committed, while increased improvement will keep you coming back for the long haul.

As you’ve now seen, the scientific research is in and exercise will make you perform better at work. Thinking about exercise as part of your job, will make it more connected to your workplace. That makes it easier for you to decide to make time for it and to incorporate it into your daily routine.

Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself When You Feel Tired

how to stay motivated at work

We’ve all experienced fatigue and lack of motivation.

Maybe it’s mid-afternoon in a comfortable desk chair, and your eyes just barely want to stay open. Or, first thing in the morning when you’re barely awake enough to focus.

Whatever time of day has you feeling fatigued, you can’t let procrastination and lack of energy prevent the completion of important tasks.

Take a look at these suggestions to get motivated when you’re tired.

Commit Before You Procrastinate

We often know which tasks we are likely to put off doing, especially when we are tired.

If and when you sense that procrastination might set-in for a task, immediately commit to completing it.

Studies tell us that planning to complete the task profoundly increases the success rate of finishing it.

If you’re hesitant about doing something get in action. Commit to it anyway and create a plan to get it done. Do this prior to getting to your fatigued state.

Take a Lesson from Steve Jobs – Find Your Creative Place.

We all love Steve Jobs’ theories about creativity.

One of his most popularly used concepts was holding walking meetings to get the creative juices going.

Another approach is to find a creative place where you can spend time and get in your zone. Doing this when fatigued and lacking focus, can rejuvenate your energy.

Clear Your Brain By Walking 15 Minutes

A brisk walk is a great way to clear your brain and self-reflect.

It serves as an opportunity to re-charge your brain and clear your mind of distractions.

Research supports the idea that a brisk walk, especially outdoors, can help your brain to better focus.

If you’re feeling sleepy or unmotivated, take a walk!

Close Important Tasks at the Day’s Start and Move On to What’s Next

Leaving tasks hanging is a recipe for distraction.

The Zeigarnik Effect defines what happens when we leave a task unfinished; it intrudes on our thoughts and other tasks.

To avoid this, make yourself close important hanging tasks at the beginning of every day.

If you’re not going to complete it either delegate it to another person or ditch the task entirely. Just don’t leave it hanging, this will negatively affect your productivity in other areas.

Always be Someone that Follows Through

Commit to being a person that always follows through.

Research tells us that people who do this and also share/discuss their commitment with others and are more motivated to ensure they stick with their intentions.

Following through is a key component to productivity. When you’re feeling fatigued, remember that you made a commitment to follow through!

Lack of motivation and mental fatigue are big barriers to productivity. All of the suggestions above have been proven effective in improving motivation and energy. Don’t let yourself be held back, make the effort to practice doing tasks in ways that will improve your focus and productivity.