Forget time hacks. Want to really power up your productivity? Use these energy hacks to keep you focused and productive.
Time is finite. There are only so many hours a day, which is no doubt why so much effort has been focused on improving employee efficiency. If we can just get people to work more productively, we can increase our overall output.
A lot has been focused on time and productivity hacks to make us all more efficient, but these tricks can only go so far.
Want to learn how to increase productivity? Forget the popular time hacks and focus on energy hacks instead. When teams are more energized, productivity improves.
Why focusing on energy is more powerful than focusing on time
For years, people have been focused on how to squeeze more tasks into an already busy day. While the mantra of “work smarter, not harder” sounds like a good idea, what happened to most people is that they may have worked a bit smarter, but they also ended up working harder, too.
Rapid-fire tasks that require focus are draining no more how efficient you are. The more you cram into a workday, the more exhausting it is. People are working longer hours, too. The average professional added nearly 80 minutes to their day last year.
It’s no wonder we often find ourselves running on fumes at times. If we want to improve productivity, efficiency, and employee engagement, we’ve got to power up those energy meters first.
Productivity hacks: How to increase your productivity by increasing your energy
Four types of energy play a significant role in employee efficiency and productivity:
- Physical energy
- Emotional energy
- Mental energy
- Spiritual energy
To perform at peak levels, you need to manage each of these four types.
- Physical energy has to do with your health. Get a good night’s sleep, eat healthy, and exercise.
- Emotional energy affects your sense of security. When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted, it can be paralyzing.
- Mental energy is about your ability to maintain focus. If you can’t focus well, you won’t be productive.
- Spiritual energy provides significance to your work and goes right to motivation. Do you feel your work is important and providing something valuable? You need a sense of purpose.
When you address all four areas, you can improve your productivity. Here are some of the key ways to increase your energy.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep not only conserves energy, but it also helps to restore it. You may know that instinctively, but scientists have proven it. There’s a chemical called glycogen that helps store energy in the brain. Your glycogen levels decrease the longer you are awake but are restored during sleep.
How much sleep do you need to optimize your energy level? Experts say you need 7 to 9 hours of solid sleep each night.
Take care of yourself
You know the list already, so we won’t belabor this point. But an essential part of maintaining energy levels is taking care of yourself. For example:
- Eat healthy foods
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Drink lots of water
If you’re not healthy, it will be difficult to maintain your energy level.
Learn to recognize when your energy levels are low
When your focus starts to drift or you’ve having trouble concentrating, it’s a sign that your tank is headed towards empty. You might be feeling undue stress, a sense of being overwhelmed by the work you’re doing, or any variety of things that impact your productivity.
When you experience these things, your brain is sending you a signal that it’s time to take a time out and refresh.
Take breaks and recharge
When you are focused on work, the prefrontal cortex in your brain helps keep you focused. For every minute you spend on a task, however, your concentration level wanes. You need to regularly recharge the parts of your brain that aid employee efficiency.
Sometimes, all you need is a change of pace to restore your energy levels, such as:
- Get away from your work area and take a walk
- Meditate or exercise
- Talk to your coworkers
- Read a book
There are plenty of things you can do to take a break. The key is to put aside what you’re working on and focus on something completely different for a few minutes. Avoid things like responding to email, looking at social media, or anything that takes active decision-making. This just puts your prefrontal cortex to work on different things.
Switch tasks, but avoid multi-tasking
When you feel your energy or motivation start to fade when you’re working on a task, putting it aside for a while and focusing on something else can also help restore your energy. Just don’t try to multi-task.
Despite what you may think, you can’t really multi-task. What you’re doing when you’re trying to juggle multiple tasks at once is forcing your brain to switch rapidly between tasks. All this does is sap your energy.
Many remote teams found a sense of freedom working at home, but they also found new distractions that can quickly drain their vitality. When you see stacks of dishes in the sink, notice laundry starting to pile up, and endure interruptions from kids or pets, it can feel overwhelming.
Avoiding distractions means setting aside time to deal with non-work or non-task-related items so you can focus on the task at hand. For example, checking your email at scheduled intervals rather than whenever a new one pops up.
It also helps to avoid other things that can drain your energy, like negativity and gossip in the workplace.
Use productivity tools
The right productivity tools can help by making you more efficient, but they won’t do the job if you don’t keep your energy levels up. Be careful when considering productivity tools. Many tools will help you do your job more quickly or efficiently, but they won’t necessarily help you maintain high energy.
The best tools will help you quickly get through mundane or monotonous tasks that can wear you down. This can help get the dull stuff out of the way so you can focus more on things you enjoy doing more. For many people, there’s value in creating lists and then checking things off. It can make you feel productive and enhance your mood. If you can check off the routine things you have to do every day, it can feed your energy meter.
Recharge your batteries and improve productivity
Time may be finite, but energy is a renewable resource.
By paying attention to the things that drain your power meter and the things that fire it up, you can recharge your batteries and be more productive.
To learn more about ways to improve your HR, People Ops, and workplace, explore Workest by Zenefits.