Nobody really wants to sleep; everyone just wants to feel rested.
Sleeping takes away valuable time that could otherwise be spent hanging out with friends, reading a book, working on your latest project or finishing that exhaustive to-do list.
So, rather than sleeping more and getting less done, here are several ways to be more productive on less sleep:
1. Create a solid morning routine.
What do you do every morning?
Do you go for a run, sleep in till the last minute, read for an hour or work from home?
Creating a morning routine that aligns with your goals and objectives is a great first step for being more productive on less sleep.
By doing the same thing(s) every morning, you train your mind and body to both wake up at the same time every day. You’ll be ready to jump into whatever it is you want to do early on.
What you do right after you wake up will set the tone for your day, so make sure it aligns with the things you want to accomplish.
2. Drink up.
Cool water provides a great jumpstart for your body and lasts well into the day.
Substitute two cups of coffee (assuming you drink more than two cups a day) with about 16 ounces of cool water.
You should feel just as energetic, probably more focused and definitely better physically.
Doctors recommend doing this to start your day before you have your first cup of coffee because the extra water gives your body a kickstart.
It fuels your cells, which in turn fuels your organs, which in turn fuels your entire body.
Even a slight drop in hydration can cause you to become less productive.
By replacing a cup of coffee or two with water, you'll keep your hydration levels up.
3. Write out everything.
When you sleep less, it's easy to feel mentally stuck on a task or project.
To get your thoughts and motivation flowing, move around a little bit.
Don't start doing pilates in the middle of the office. (I mean, you could.)
Grab a pen or marker and write out whatever’s going through your head or everything you need to do that day, even if gibberish comes out at first.
This will “loosen” your mind, making it easier for your thoughts to flow.
4. Choose your background noise.
Playing classical music isn't going to make you smarter.
But music does play a significant role in comprehension and productivity.
If you need to focus on reading, writing or editing (ie words), then slow, simple instrumental music will help you stay more productive.
Anything by Hammock, The Album Leaf or The American Dollar is great for this.
Having consistent background noise stimulates the brain without distracting it, overloading it or trying to make it process audible language (which is the most distracting thing for your brain).
But if you're working on math, analytics, data processing or anything else with numbers, having an upbeat tempo helps you.
Anything from Justin Timberlake to Trap City is great for this.
5. Utilize the synergistic effect of bright light and exercise.
Sounds complicated, right? It's not.
There are two clusters of cells located behind your eyes. They are called the suprachiasmatic nuclei, and are commonly known as the “biological clock.”
They control when you feel tired, awake, etc.
These clusters are directly connected to your pupils, so when you view bright light, your biological clock gets a wake up call.
When you exercise under bright lights, there's an exponential or synergistic effect.
Your body actually gains and keeps more energy because it has a boost from both the bright light and the exercise, keeping you productive for longer.
On the plus side, if you do this three to four hours before going to bed, you'll get more of what psychologists call “slow-wave sleep.”
This is the sleep you need to be more productive.
6. Chop it up.
Our brains really enjoy achievements and the completion of tasks.
So break down projects and tasks into smaller parts, like building a chart for the spreadsheet you need to make, forming a rough draft of a plan or choosing a title for your next piece of content.
By focusing on smaller tasks, you're able to feel better about the work you're doing. In fact, you're actually able to do more because of the positive stimulus of checking off more tasks.
Plus, happy people are around 12 percent more productive.
7. Get creative.
When you sleep less, you don't want to work on something boring.
Even if they’re lower on your list of priorities, work on your creative assignments first.
Creative tasks are more engaging, and usually more enjoyable in general.
Both of these things add to your productivity.
8. Throw your cell phone into a dark abyss.
When we don't get enough sleep, our bodies become more susceptible to impulses.
The key to productivity (and time management) is removing distractions.
Therefore, it's important to remove the impulses your phone causes.
Keep your cell on silent, put it in a drawer or destroy it with a hammer.
Just get it out of the way so you can be more productive.
When you're tired, it's especially easy to burn out or become bored.
If you can't focus on one thing, pick something else to work on.
Maybe you have an assignment due by the end of the day, but you can't focus on it.
Find something else.
Pick a few simple tasks you can check off quickly.
You'll feel much better about having done so, and that confidence will help you finish your boring assignment.
10. Work while standing.
If you're already tired from not sleeping well, your body will try to rest as soon as you get comfortable at your desk.
Don't let it. Luckily, fighting this is pretty simple.
Move around periodically, or just use a stand up desk.
If you're moving, you're not resting. This way, you can work.
11. Start conversations.
When you talk to someone, you have to construct conversational pieces.
Listen to what the other person is saying, respond, use physical gestures and so on.
All of these actions engage your brain, effectively turning an ignition that enables you to focus more clearly on your next tasks (and the ones at hand, if they’re collaborative).
It's much easier to shift focus from one task to another than it is to create focus, so it's a good idea to set aside time during your slow periods specifically for talking to people.
12. Enjoy the smell of coffee.
You don't have to actually drink any. (But of course, you will because coffee is delicious.)
Studies show that simply smelling coffee stimulates the brain, making you happier and more productive.
This article was originally published on Kenneth’s personal blog, “Productive And Successful.”
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