10 Tips to Improve Productivity by Focusing on Your Health Habits
We tend to hear those stories about young entrepreneurs working 20 hours non-stop, sleeping only 4 hours in their startup’s garage/office and surviving on a diet of ramen soups. This makes us feel eager to work harder on our projects, too and sacrifice sleeping hours and proper diet to complete our goals. Although it might be true that hustle and hard-work pay off in the future, your health might suffer the consequences.
We, humans, are creatures of habit. Our habits either improve or hurt our life. Without a healthy body and mind, it is impossible to be productive at work. Our health habits can guide us in the right direction towards a more productive and happy life.
You can still work hard and keep up with tight deadlines, as long as your energy and focus levels are up to par.
10 Tips to Improve Your Productivity While Focusing on Your Health
- Improve Your Sleeping Habits.
- Take Cold Showers.
- Avoid Sitting Too Much.
- Breathe on Purpose.
- Find and Follow your Flow.
- Connect With People.
- Expose Yourself to Sunlight and Fresh Air.
- Don’t Skip Breakfast.
- Meditate to Relieve Stress and Anxiety.
- Have a Cup of Bulletproof Coffee.
1. Improve Your Sleeping Habits
As action takers, we tend to turn those extra sleep hours and use them to work a bit longer. We think that by stretching our work-nights and sleeping less, we do more work.
But that is not the case.
All those accumulated sleepless nights tend to have consequences. Being sleep deprived causes fatigue, clumsiness, extreme weight variation and affects our ability to concentrate and remain cognitive.
Of course being sleep deprived can also have a big impact on your job search, job productivity, and your personal life. Sticking to a good sleeping routine is by far one of the best investments when it comes to your health and productivity.
What are the best sleep hacks?
- Take technology out of the bedroom. The artificial blue light that our devices emit, makes it harder for us to fall asleep.
- Avoid drinking coffee or too many liquids before going to bed. Having to wake up twice or three times to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night disrupts our deep sleep phase.
- Block light and noise. The sleeping environment should be shielded from noise and disruptive light.
- Don’t use your bed for work. The bed is for sleeping. The desk is for work.
- Stick to a sleeping routine. Sleep the same amount of hours every night… and try not to change it too much.
2. Take Cold Showers
“But, there is still every reason for healthy people to take cold showers, or swim outside in cold water. It gives you the feeling that you are alive.” ― Wim Hof, The Way of The Iceman
From experience, we know that cold water is unpleasant and not relaxing. We might have heard that cold showers are beneficial, but we dread taking them. And once we do, we feel like a million needles going through our body and we feel out of breath.
According to WimHof (The Iceman), a 26 Guinness world-record holder, who can stay in ice baths for really long times, and who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in nothing but his shorts, says that exposure to cold revitalizes our body and mind.
Cold showers (or cryotherapy) have insane benefits that you probably haven’t heard before. Such as keeping our immune, cardiovascular and nervous system in check. A cold shower will give you a rush of energy, have positive psychological effects, fight inflammation and pain, and improve your sleep quality.
The best way to take cold showers?
- Start by taking warm showers, then add cold water, until it feels slightly uncomfortable or you feel out of breath. Then alternate to hot again, and so on.
- The next day, start the shower less warm until you are able to maintain the coldest for an extended period.
3. Avoid Sitting too Much
Nowadays people are sitting more than ever before. Our modern society has designed everything for sitting – from offices, vehicles, restaurants, the church, etc. According to research, the average office worker might spend about 15 hours a day sitting, while the agricultural worker spends only 3 hours. Although sitting is considered a normal body posture, doing it too much can be harmful. According to WebMD, sitting too much is bad for your health. It raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
There are ways to work on the computer while still moving your body.
- Work standing. Invest in posture-friendly gear, like a standing desk. Or put some boxes on the desk, put your computer on top and stand up.
- No sitting, no standing, but squatting. It is great for stretching the ankles and letting the oxygen circulating through the body. Although people might look with their you-are-weird-face, try squatting for a couple of minutes on a low level while working with the computer.
4.Breathe on Purpose
Most of the time, poor productivity is caused by stress and anxiety. A series of deep breaths can influence our state of mind and bring back some control. According to Harvard Medical School, practicing breath control helps quell errant stress response. Conscious breathing brings a rush of oxygen into our body, influencing our mental clarity, decreasing the stress, and making us highly focused.
Although breathing happens naturally and automatically, we can gain back some control by influencing the air intake. Practice mindful breathing when undergoing moments of pressure and anxiety.
How can we practice deep breathing?
- Find a quiet place without distractions. If possible find a place where the air is fresh and clean.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- After a couple of minutes start breathing deeply.
- Repeat this for about 10-15 minutes until your body is calm and you begin to regain some control.
5. Find and Follow Your Flow
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Flow is a state of the mind of total engagement. When creativity and productivity are generated effortlessly from the mind, you are in The Flow. When somebody, either an athlete, a salesperson, a writer… says that was in the state of high performance or “In The Zone”, they were experiencing the flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and author of the book The Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, aimed to find out what improved creativity, and how can it lead to a higher productivity in the workplace.
According to Mihaly, “The Flow” is defined by the following 8 components.
- Clarity of goals and immediate feedback.
- A high level of concentration.
- The right balance between skills and challenge.
- A sense of control.
- Flexibility and ease.
- An altered perception of time.
- A sense of unity in action and awareness.
- An immediate return on investment: The action is by itself the most rewarding.
6. Connect With People
With the boom of technology and remote work, we are turning into socially isolated beings. We tend to spend more time in front of our devices talking and chatting with people all around the world than actually building real-life human relationships. We are building more social media connections but we are making less human interaction, leading ourselves into a depression trap.
Chris Bailey, an author from LifeHack ran an experiment, where he isolated himself for 10 days to see how productive he was… turned out that not only his productivity decreased but also his mental health started to deteriorate.
According to the Health Hacks article from Trackly, the mere interaction with other people (even though it is not work-related) can greatly influence our happiness and productivity. Even if you are working from home or telecommuting, it is worth the effort to make some time to socialize in order to avoid depression, isolation, and burnout.
What can you do?
- Call your family and friends.
- Join the gym.
- Go on a volunteering weekend.
- Attend a local group or class.
- Go out and practice your hobbies.
7. Expose Yourself to Sunlight and Fresh Air
Nowadays we can do pretty much everything with the click on our computer screens and inside our office rooms. No need to go outside… From online shopping to e-banking, paying our bills, ordering food, video-meetings, multiplayer gaming, etc. Although technology makes us highly productive, there is a high price to pay if we let technology take over.
Paying your bills online is convenient, saves time and will surely make you more productive. But not going out and taking some sun and fresh air has some disadvantages in the long run.
Thanks to the flexibility of remote work, employees are becoming “digital nomads”. They can decide how to work and when to do it. They travel, see different places, work outside where there is sunlight and fresh air.
Why is this important?
Natural light regulates our circadian cycles, which in turn regulate our sleeping patterns, and without sleep, we’ll burn out quickly. When we don’t take regular natural light, our sleep habits start to deteriorate, we are unable to focus and handle stress, and we end up with less energy.
What to do?
- Get out of the house at least once a day (If possible, go and spend time in nature).
- Take time to be in some sunlight and fresh air.
- Go for a walk session in the morning or afternoon.
- Go out to nature.
8. Don’t Skip Breakfast
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper!” – Anonymous
While nutritionists still debate whether breakfast is the single most important meal throughout the day, a research from the University of Hohenheim in Germany found that calorie burn is greater when skipping dinner compared with skipping breakfast. In other words, in order to lose weight, it is much better to skip dinner than breakfast. The results match with what we already know about the circadian cycle.
The common quote above is a simple way to remember how we should eat during the day. Don’t skip breakfast. Start your day with a full and balanced breakfast and decrease quantities as sleep time approaches.
Some simple guidelines
- Find the right balanced breakfast diet.
- Wake up early and make up some time to prepare a healthy breakfast.
- Make it a habit!
9. Meditate to Relieve Stress and Anxiety
“The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of peace.” – J. Donald Walters.
Action takers, entrepreneurs, and writers who deal with tight deadlines are usually faced with stress and anxiety. Putting more and more time doesn’t make us more productive, it creates more stress. When you find the time to stop, relax and recharge, your body will thank you and reward you with a boost of productivity. How to reach that state?
Meditation. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety, it promotes positive thinking, brings peace of mind and a sense of awareness, it recharges our energy and improves focus and memory. Practicing meditation for as little as 5 minutes daily can bring so many benefits that it is hard to imagine.
How to do it?
- Meditation is easier if it is done in a quiet place. But you can do it pretty much anywhere.
- All you need is your awareness. Be present and clear your mind of thoughts.
- Start focusing on your breathing, until you reach a state of peace.
- There are meditation apps that can help you manage your sessions.
10. Drink a Cup of Bulletproof Coffee
The creator of Bulletproof Coffee, Dave Asprey, tried a tea made with yak-butter for the first time in Nepal, he liked how energized he felt after drinking it and set up to refine its recipe. And BulletProof Coffee was born.
It is basically a recipe made with Coffee, Brain Octane MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil and grass-fed butter.
After drinking this coffee, you’ll feel a boost of energy (without the caffeine crash) and a clear mind to improve your productivity 10x. You can brew the coffee yourself by buying the ingredients in the local whole market, or buying it directly from Bulletproof.
In the article “What is like to drink bulletproof coffee every morning for two weeks”. Chris Gayomali from Fast Company, suggests not to replace the full and balanced breakfast, but a cup of Bulletproof coffee every morning boosts energy and productivity.
Among its many benefits are:
- Weight loss through ketosis.
- Terminates those nasty cravings.
- Improves cognitive function.
High personal productivity is directly affected by how we treat our mind and body. Be attentive to your health, and you’ll feel an improvement in productivity. When I followed most of these health tips, not only did my productivity improve but also my happiness and energy levels increased. My favorite health hacks are taking cold showers, breathing on purpose and getting enough sleep. What are yours? Is there a healthy habit that helps you improve productivity that is not mentioned here? Please let us know in the comments!