The pressure is on for us to become more productive with our day. As strong female executive leaders, we want to always put our best foot forward. Our ambitious plan to advance our careers means that we need to do what we can to optimize our days to get things accomplished.
Little do we know that there are small things that we are doing that are killing our ability to be as productive as possible. To help accomplish everything our extensive goal lists, here are a few to get you back into your flow state.
Monitor your use of electronics
Electronics mess with our brains, disturbing our sleep cycle, and zapping our productivity. Instead of our Melatonin naturally rising over the course of the day, the blue light from our devices sends the brain signals that it is time to wake up. Our natural melatonin levels get disrupted, which in turn disrupts our sleeping pattern. Even if we get an adequate amount of sleep, we still wake up feeling groggy and unrested.
Checking our phones in the morning sets off our day at a disadvantage. We are spiking our cortisol levels, putting our brains in fight or flight right from the beginning. By opting out of this behavior, we are setting up the day to be less stressful, which allows you to get more done with less effort.
Follow the Rule of Three
An ideal part of your morning routine should be to sit down and write down the top three important tasks that you are hoping to get done. By laying these tasks out, it allows your brain to prioritize things and group related tasks, which results in better time management.
Try to limit yourself to three big things. Too many tasks can be paralyzing and make it more stressful when you don’t get everything done.
Just making a list is giving you direction and gives you a hit of dopamine. This will give you encouragement and push you along the right path while also balancing out stress hormones.
Nature and the color green nurtures the brain. The cortisol and adrenaline that keep us stressed will automatically drop as we go out into nature while dopamine and serotonin increase. Patients who have high blood pressure, who have suffered from a stroke, and who are severely stressed get therapeutic benefits from these surroundings. Many people also feel spikes in creativity as well by being outside. Our eyes blink more as we are allowed to reset.
There are several quick ways to incorporate more green into your life that don’t take a week long retreat into the forest.
- Change your screensaver to a nature scape to give you a minibreak when you close windows and unwind slightly.
- Have plants in the room so that you have something natural to look at to distract you from your screen.
- Go outside. Even a few minutes will help you recharge and make you more productive overall.
Avoid decision fatigue
We have a limited reserve of the decisions that we can make. Exhausting this reserve has shown to drastically lower the quality of our work and the effort we are able to put into a task. Because of this, tasks that we perform at the end of the day won’t get the same results as the ones that we perform in the morning.
Cut down on electronics and the constant distractions that they provide. The constant notifications distract us and force us to make decisions and prioritize tasks, even if they aren’t important. Adding time blocks of 60-90 minutes where you dedicate your best decisions and work into important tasks allows you to spend more of this resource on important work.
Multitasking is really a myth. Our brains take in information linearly. Any appearance of handling multiple things at once is really just switching between tasks. Every time you switch, there will be some time wasted making the switch and getting back up to speed.
The importance of rituals
Rituals allow the brain to relax and enjoy the task at hand because it takes away the need to make decisions. By following established habits, we can accomplish more without succumbing to decision fatigue. Routines allow us to settle in and focus on the task at hand.
Habits give our brains context for how they are supposed to feel, operate, and react to what is going on around them. They tell us when we need to be alert and focused and when we can relax. It is our way of telling our brains what they should be doing, and they can either set us up for success or failure, depending on the routine.
Incorporating these tips into our lives will help us get back to being more productive on the projects we’re passionate about. By looking to limit our use of electronics, we can give our brains the break they need to perform better. Drinking in nature allows naturally allows us to relax. Being intentional about how and when we make decisions lets us focus those resources on what’s important. Finding the right rituals sets us in the right mindset for the work at hand.
As strong figures looking to grow the impact of women’s leadership, these practices are little steps that can have huge impacts on our productivity.