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Tips and tricks for better productivity

Posted by: Megan Troster

With summer over, autumn arriving and winter around the corner, do you find yourself constantly being distracted, tired and negative? Or perhaps you find yourself clock watching throughout the day?

Productivity coach Michael Williams is a believer in Cognitive Load Theory (CLT). Developed by John Sweller CLT is a basic form of human information processing and it has three main parts; sensory memory, working memory and long term memory.

Every day your brain is bombarded with information and the sensory memory is the part that filters this but keeps an impression of the most important things. These pass into our working memory which holds between 5 and 9 items.

When your brain processes information and moves into the long term memory, it is stored as ‘schemas’ and these organise information according to how you use it.

Working memory has limited capacity, and you should avoid overloading it. The brain can only handle a finite amount of new information at any one time, and without your rest your capacity to cope decreases dramatically.

Michael Williams started his career in advertising and at one point when was on the brink of exhaustion, he originally thought that the only way to enhance his own wellbeing was to become less productive and stop. However, his mindset changed and he realised that by becoming more organised and productive, then your wellbeing improves and so will you attitude. Additionally he believes that with this you can work fewer hours more intelligently and achieve more.

Stress is mainly self-inflicted and the amount of cases recorded for work related stress in 2015/16 was 488,000, the equivalent of 1510 per 100,000 workers.

In a time of endless distractions we are expected to be more productive than ever. If you’ve had a stressful day, perhaps getting hammered after work is not the answer. In fact over stimulating yourself in the evenings, means that you’re less likely to have a good nights sleep and getting good, regular sleep helps your brain deal with processing the day’s events.

Go out all the time, and the next day you’ll find yourself tired and emotional, creating more stress and repeating a vicious circle. As boring as some of you might find this – try to have chill time where you can read or maybe have a bath before bed, and be selective of the school night drinking with colleagues!

Williams said that an effective way for him to combat stress is to take ten minutes every hour to reflect and give yourself a break. It is proven that when given regular breaks people become more productive. So step away from Instagram and Facebook and try to get outside. Although, he does recommend an app called BreatheSync which guides you through quick breathing exercises to hone your wellbeing. Michael says that in two weeks you’ll notice the difference.

The majority of us work long days and are expected to stay in the office until the job is done, but if you can try to leave work on time then do it.

Think of a day when you have been really productive, and think about what you ate on that day too. We aren’t really paying much attention to how food can affect our mood and productivity.

Food is fuel for the body and it affects us more than we realise. Almost everything we eat is converted into glucose and if there isn’t enough of this its tough to stay focused, which is why you shouldn’t skip breakfast. Not all foods are processed at the same rate either, foods high in fat provide more sustained energy but our digestive systems have to work twice as hard and this reduces oxygen being supplied to the brain.

Other foods like pasta and bread give you give you a burst of energy then leave you with a slump.When you’re mentally drained these foods are more appealing and the unhealthier you go, the cheaper it is. It is hard when you want to grab a quick lunch, but try and make the decision before you get hungry.

According to Harvard Business Review studies have shown that we are better at resisting salt, calories and fat in the future than we are in the present. So decide on your lunch mid morning and don’t let your blood sugar get so low that you find it hard to concentrate. Tying all this in with you well being, healthy snacking and making the effort of bringing these to the office is good for the mind.

Participants in a study in July’s British Journal of Health Psychology were studied over a period of 13 days and the conclusion was that the more fruit and vegetable people ate (7ish portions) the more engaged and happier they were. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants too which will improve your memory, help prevent illnesses and enhance your mood.

So if you want to become as productive as possible and become a top performer, make sure you eat wisely, take time out during your day and get a good nights sleep!

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