With so much time on our hands thanks to shelter-in-place directives, we’re now more able to relate with Rapunzel and her hair-growing feat. Unlike us, however, Rapunzel didn’t have a TV, radio, gaming console, laptop, or smartphone. The most she did was sing, braid her locks, and help pull her foster mother up her tower.
If you can work from home, then you’re even more fortunate. Indeed, tech grants workers more flexibility than ever before. Yet despite this (or maybe because of this), we’re not as productive as we could be. At one end of the spectrum, TV, gaming consoles, and social media apps may be setting us back with laziness. At the opposite end, we might find ourselves overworking and succumbing to the ill effects of chronic stress and exhaustion.
They say that there’s a proper time for everything. Well, everyone gets the same number of hours in the day, so it’s just a matter of how we spend it. Here are a few low-tech hacks to help you punch your time card in and out of your internal time clock and become more productive.
Turn off social media notifications
In order for social media apps to convince advertisers to rent their ad space, those apps need to capture users’ attention and keep their eyes glued to the screen for as long as possible. This means that they’re designed to be addicting. To prevent yourself from being distracted while working, turn off social media notifications and delay your social media fix until your next scheduled break.
Here’s a bold experiment you can try: sign out from all your social media accounts and delete the associated apps from your devices. Abstain for an entire workweek and take note of how much you get to accomplish during that time. Odds are you’ll experience a considerable increase in productivity.
Bring out a timer and set it for 15 minutes
Newton’s first law of motion states that a stationary object tends to stay that way. This is us when we sink into our sofas while on our nth episode of Stranger Things. We tend to tell ourselves that we have an abundance of time, so we procrastinate until there are too many deadlines to beat.
To counter this habit, pick the task you’ve been holding off the longest, set your timer for 15 minutes, then devote those 15 minutes to that task. Tell yourself that it’s just a short time anyway — that it’ll fly by in a blink of an eye. Thing is, don’t be surprised if you don’t feel like stopping after the 15-minute mark. This is because the second law of motion kicks in: once an object is put into motion, it tends to stay in motion.
In short, use the timer as a compelling reason to start doing a task, then set enough time to shift your inertia toward productivity.
If you’re a workaholic, use that same timer to set frequent break times
Staring at a screen for hours on end strains your eyes and can cause ocular issues ranging from needle-like pain to severe headaches. This means that instead of accomplishing more, you’ll actually lose more time getting yourself treated.
Aside from our eyes, our brains can suffer fatigue, too. The more tired our noggins are, the less output they’ll produce.
An easy way to prevent both eye strain and brain fatigue is to give yourself frequent breaks. One particular method is called the Pomodoro technique. Here, you set your timer for 25 minutes of focused, uninterrupted work (and noting to-do items that pop up along the way). Afterward, take a short break — around five minutes — to fix yourself a cup of coffee, do a few breathing exercises, or anything that’s not related to your work.
Repeat this work-rest cycle four times, but during the fourth time, take a much longer break. Allocate 20 to 30 minutes to grabbing a snack, watering your plants, what have you. This extended break refreshes the mind and prepares it to better assimilate and process new information when you return to work.
Whether or not technology benefits us depends on how we use it. To learn more about fully leveraging IT to your advantage, download our eBook today.