ESP In the News

What’s Stuck in Your Gears?

imagesLet’s face it; work can be a grind, especially as an IT professional.  However, there are some ways to grease those gears and bring some joy and productivity back into your work day.  The following five habits will not only boost productivity at work but will also add positively to your personal life as well.
1. Single-tasking
Be honest with yourself: are you actually good at multi-tasking?  Or, do you get more done when you tackle one task at a time?  Your brain is not physically capable of doing more than one task at a time; therefore, multi-tasking is just an exhausting game of two person tag and slows your progress.  More importantly, multi-tasking can even be harmful to your brain function.  Single-tasking can be difficult in our culture but the benefits are worth the effort.  If you take the advice below, to plan out your day, single tasking will be easy.  Resist the urge to work on more than one project and see the benefits of concentrated focus.
2. Plan
Take the time to plan.  Let’s face it, as a tech person, many distractions can come your way and you often have a variety of projects on our plate at one time.  It may feel like it will slow you down but the effort of planning will save you a great deal of time later on in your day or week.  First, prioritize.  Take the 5 to 10 minutes in your morning, or the afternoon before, to go through and map out a plan for your day. Perhaps you’d like to go so far as to write down how long each project will take.  You might discover you won’t have enough time to finish all of your projects for the day, so identify which things must get done that day, and which projects can be postponed.  Last, analyze your work day to find where you are losing time.  What projects seem to always take you longer than you expect?  What aspects of your day get you distracted from the task at hand?  Learn what halts your progress so that you can plan for ways to work around those time sucking activities.  A simple game plan can turn your whole work experience around.
3. Take a Break
Take time to rejuvenate.  It’s quite unlikely that the network will shut down or some tech catastrophe will happen in the 10 minute span of your break.  Although, it may seem counter-productive, stepping away from your computer can actually help you be more productive.  With or without a lunch break, take 10 minutes in the afternoon to close your eyes and breathe deeply, meditate, or better yet, take a nap. A 10 minute nap is known to improve performance and productivity exponentially.  That short time span with a relaxing behavior can actually boost your mental cognition and revitalize you for the rest of the day.  If you feel like your boss might not like seeing you asleep at your desk, walk over to a colleague and friend and have a short conversation.  The simple act of moving from your desk and pausing from your activity will help you come back with fresh eyes and a rested brain.  The best part: 10 minutes is really all it takes.  I will warn that working through lunch seems like a good way to catch up on projects or shorten your work day but that 30 minute to hour break in your day is important.  Eat a good lunch and take a walk.
4. Eat right
Give your body the energy it needs to start your day by eating breakfast. We never drive our car without fueling it up first, what makes us think our bodies can run without a full tank?  Drink more water.  Hydration is essential for proper brain function.  Eat fruits, veggies, and proteins. Eating high fiber and high protein can help give your body the energy it needs to get you through your day.  Tired of that 3pm slump? Did you know an apple gives you more energy than a cup of coffee?  Bite into an apple or eat a handful of nuts and you’ll be geared up for the rest of your day in no time.
5. Exercise
Exercise is a vital component to boosting productivity because it releases endorphins into your body making you happier, more creative, and more energetic throughout your day.  Exercise can even help your colleagues like you better.  The good news is you can get all these positive effects and more, with just 20-40 minutes per day of any sort of physical activity. Try anything from yoga to basketball; the more you like the activity, the more likely you are to stick with it.  Starting the habit of exercise before work, after work, or even on your lunch break can turn your whole work week around.
This isn’t rocket science, if fact some of these tips may just be a reminder, but taking the time to implement better practices can be the WD-40 for your work day.  Productivity doesn’t have to be challenging, you just need the right tools.