Think you have to get up at 5 am to be uber-productive? Think again! Sure, some high-performers rise at the crack of dawn and like doing so, but that’s not the only way to enjoy streamlined, simplified, enjoyable days. In this post, we’re going to share a few top tips to break up your days for maximum physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Let’s dive in!
The Origin of the 8-Hour Workday
Before we talk about productivity, let’s talk about why it’s so hard to attain it in our current, 9-5 workday structure.
Once upon a time, workdays routinely ran 10-12 hours, if not longer. American society was primarily agricultural, and people did have to rise at 4, or 5 am to create enough hours in the day to get everything done.
In 1914, however, Ford Motor Company came along and tipped things on their head. To boost productivity and increase morale, Ford doubled its employees’ wages and reduced the length of their shifts to just eight hours. Why? Here’s how BitBounce describes it:
“Ford found that its workers’ productivity increased when they had longer to recuperate. The idea soon caught on, and the rest is history. But as business moved into the information age, a problem emerged: people can’t work productively on intellectual tasks for eight hours straight. In fact, research indicates that during a typical eight hour day, office workers generally spend less than three hours working productively. Hence, the working day is once again poised for massive disruption. Companies, governments, and policy-makers are actively researching ways to increase productivity, and this is generating some surprising statistics.”
While this shift was a humane one almost 200 years ago, it holds little relevance to our modern work structure. Today, the majority of U.S. employees work in cubicles rather than assembly lines, and the fact that work structure is that it simply doesn’t take as long.
In 2016, Forbes called the 8-hour workday “outdated and ineffective,” and we tend to agree. The 8-hour workday is not the most productive way to work, but it’s often unavoidable. That said, it pays to get creative about how you structure your day so that you can squeeze as much productivity as possible out of each hour.
4 Smart Ways to Optimize Your Day, so You Feel Your Best
Even if you have to be in the office for eight hours a day, you do have some control over how you use those house. Here are our top tips:
1. Identify Your Peak Energy Hours
Some people are at their best in terms of focus and productivity in the morning, while others peak in the afternoon. No matter what works for you, it’s critical to identify the times when you feel most alert and active, and then optimize around that.
For example, if you know that you’re awake and alert around 9 am, plan to front-load your day with your most demanding tasks. This is a great time to schedule meetings, deep project work and reading, research, and anything else that requires you to give 100% of yourself. That way, you can plan your administrative and less-demanding tasks for later in the day, when your energy dips.
2. Utilize Time-Blocking
While “time-blocking” has been around for years, Elon Musk put it on the map a few years ago, when he touted it as his method for incredible productivity.
Time blocking is a pretty simple process. It works like this: you take a look at your day and break your activities down into designated “blocks” of time. Here’s how Forbes describes it:
“For example, instead of checking your emails throughout the day, you set a block of time, let’s from 8:00 am to 8:30 am, to clear your inbox and respond to messages. Once your inbox is at zero, you move on to the next task. The key to time blocking is organizing the tasks that need to be completed and then set aside a specific timeframe to focus only on those items. This prevents multitasking and interruptions from dictating your day. As a result, you’ll cross off items from your to-do-list faster, and you’ll be more productive.”
Time blocking is critical for a few reasons. First of all, it keeps even the busiest days from sliding into chaos. When you have ample time allotted to everything on your calendar, you know you have space to get it done.
Additionally, it saves you the stress of multi-tasking and project-switching, which is a major killer of productivity. According to recent studies, juggling even three tasks at a time (phone calls, email, and research, for example) results in a loss of 20% of productive time for each task, and a whopping 40% loss of overall productive time, thanks to context switching.
3. Get Away From Your Desk
When you have a break, get away from your desk, phone, and all other screens. Instead, grab a book and head outside. Not only will the fresh air energize you and help you beat the mid-afternoon slump, but taking regular breaks from your desk boosts engagement and creativity.
According to a survey conducted by Tork, upwards of 90% of American employees say that taking lunch breaks helps them feel refreshed and ready to get creative when they return to their desk.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Good self-care goes beyond time management. To be your most productive self, make sure you’re taking care of your body, as well.
Eat healthy, nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent blood sugar dips, drink plenty of water (bring a refillable bottle to your desk to stay hydrated), get plenty of exercise, and see your chiropractor regularly. While these seem like small things, they can go a long way to help you feel your best.
Your Most Productive Days Start Here
Stop slogging through days where you don’t feel like you get anything done. These simple tips will help you optimize your days and feel your best throughout. Need a bit of an extra boost? Stop by our office for an adjustment today. We’ll help you feel comfortable and ache-free all day long.