If you find yourself in the midst of a productivity funk, you are far from alone. Worldwide pandemic and post-election tensions will do that. The last thing you should do is judge yourself: You are not lazy, you are understandably frazzled and unfocused. Allow me the honor of helping you recenter yourself with some science-backed, holistic tips for restoring your productivity.
Start with assessing your hydration. More than 75% of us exist day-to-day with chronic mild dehydration, which leads to us feeling fatigued, foggy, unfocused, unmotivated, and even emotional or moody. If you struggle to find the energy to get much done, improper or inadequate hydration could be to blame.
And no, you don’t need to drink a gallon of water a day. In fact, 8 glasses a day (as they say) isn’t the way, either. Proper hydration is a combination of drinking water, eating water (plants!), and moving water throughout your body with regular movement and self-care practices like dry-brushing, foam rolling, acupuncture, and gua sha. Curious to learn more about hydration? I recommend reading the book Quench or taking my 14-day Hydration Course.
If you struggle to find the energy to get much done, dehydration could be to blame.
WRITE IT DOWN
When we write something down (either with pen to paper or stylus to iPad) the motor skills provide us with sensory information and valuable feedback that give our brain time to process and internalize the information. Not only does this help us understand the scope of the task and feel ownership over it, but it also makes us 40% more likely to complete it.
3 EASY WINS
Has anyone ever told you that you should put your three most important, urgent tasks at the top of your to-do list? Well, I’m here to tell you to stop doing that.
Instead, start your list off with 3 things that are easily achievable. I recommend tasks that take minimal effort and can be completed in no more than 5-10 minutes. Crossing these 3 simple tasks off your to-do list helps create momentum and gives your brain a healthy hit of DOSE — the four hormones released in our brain to produce a sense of accomplishment (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins).
Try putting a complex task, or something you aren’t particularly enthused about, as task number 4. That way you can let the momentum carry you right through that task you’ve been putting off.
Has anyone ever told you to put your most important tasks at the top of your to-do list? I’m here to tell you to stop doing that.
Ever tried developing a new habit as an adult? It’s hard, and there’s a reason for it. It’s called synaptic pruning and it’s the process our brain undergoes as we mature in which it removes more than 40 percent of the neural pathways in our brain and leaves only the paths we’ve “worn” for really important tasks.
These well-worn neural pathways become our daily habits. Making the bed. Brushing our teeth. Walking the dog. When you want to develop a new habit, try connecting it to one of these well-worn habits so that your brain places them along the same neural pathway.
For example, “After I make the bed in the morning, I’ll do 5 minutes of stretching near the window.”
Be specific about when, where, and how long you’ll do the new task, and don’t be afraid to start small (with 2-5 minutes) and work your way up. If you want to learn more about Habit Stacking you can check out this helpful infographic I made on Instagram.
To develop a new habit, try connecting it to a well-worn habit so that your brain places them along the same neural pathway.
PLAN AT NIGHT
We often think of morning as the perfect time to plan out our day, but research shows that doing just 5 minutes of planning at the end of your day can offer a lot of benefits.
Not only does it give you an opportunity to assess what you got done today and what needs to happen tomorrow, but planning out just a few aspects of the day ahead can help alleviate stress so that you enjoy your evening, get more restful sleep, and wake up feeling more motivated to start your day.
When you find yourself in a funk or feeling like you keep reaching the end of the day and have nothing to show for it, come back to these simple practices to help restore your focus and productivity: hydrate, write it down, 3 easy wins, habit stack, plan at night.
Dani Bruflodt of Thyme is Honey helps people increase their focus, motivation, and productivity through the power of hydration. She currently lives in Copenhagen with her husband and spirit animal, Walter.