There are these moments where I find myself deep into busy-work that has nothing to do with the task I need to get done. If I’m lucky – I’ll catch myself 10 minutes into it, instead of an hour of glossy-eyed-blank-stare-into-digital-oblivion later.
A big portion of my time goes toward online researching and copywriting. So, naturally, I get a case of writer’s block every now and then.
Pero (but) writers are not the only people who experience these kind of mental blocks – everyone does. Productivity road blocks suck but they’re not impossible to get through.
Below are my top three common productivity killers along with what I do to get passed them:
This is when I feel physically drained of all existence. The culprit is usually a lack of sleep. According to the CDC, insufficient sleep is a health epidemic with 18.3 million people having trouble performing employed or volunteer work. Additionally, an estimated 50-70 million U.S adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder.
What works for me:
- 20 min power nap: Naps are not just for kids, the National Sleep Foundation says that a short nap of 20-30 minutes a day can help improve mood, alertness, and performance. Even a 10-minute nap can improve cognitive function and decrease sleepiness and fatigue. How do I nap at work? I bring a packed lunch and drive to a nearby park and use 40 minutes of my lunch break to eat and 20 minutes to take a nap in my car (under a shade). Any other options? Sure, if you have the option to work remotely then you can nap at home, or you can talk to your wellness committee about creating a nap room or investing in nap pods.
- Hydrate – Nothing can provide your body with the restorative properties than a full night’s rest can BUT being dehydrated and sleep deprived is just asking for trouble. So drink up because up to 60% of the adult human body is water and we need water to function properly.
- Meditate – If I can’t fit a nap into my day, I will take the time to do my other version of a mini nap – meditation. A team of neurobiological researchers at UCLA discovered that meditation can resulting in cultivation of positive emotions, emotional stability, mindful behavior and an increased capacity for focused attention.
This is when I feel like a broken record and I can’t seem to move from one task to the next. The culprit is usually a lack of energy (food and/or exercise) which can lead to lack of focus. I sometimes don’t eat breakfast or just snack on something really small then try to power my way through the morning. Apparently, I’m not the only one – back in 2011 The NPD Group reported that 31 million Americans did not eat breakfast in the morning. Not good. Insufficient exercise can also fuel this sluggish feeling.
What works for me:
- Eat: I try to make a conscious effort to eat a mix of fruit, veggies, and protein in the morning. I stay as far away from coffee and sugary pastries as I can. And I’m Cuban – so that’s hard to do.
- Take a walk outside: Physically removing myself from my desk and my office helps me re-energize. It’s also a quick and easy lesson in gratitude when the Sun is out and the air is fresh and clean. It’s instant happiness. 🙂
- Stand: We all know that sitting for long hours is killing us and it’s not something we should ignore. I’m a big proponent of moving around frequently while I work – I don’t like to sit at a desk – I prefer to stand. Standing, moving and stretching keeps the body warm, blood flowing and your heart working a lot more than if you just sat the entire day.
This happens when I’m doing way too much and I need to chill out. The culprit is usually stress. In 2012, 65 percent of Americans cited work as a top source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual Stress in America Survey. Workplace stress aside, we have multifaceted lives in 2015 – we’re trying to thrive in our careers while juggling families, health, financial, personal, emotional and social issues, Hey, even Peter Parker couldn’t effectively handle reporting the news, saving the world, and having a love life all at once. He was only human and so are we.
What works for me:
- Breathe: Have you every noticed that when you get tensed or over stimulated you have a hard time catching your breath? Stop what you’re doing, turn off your screen and lower the lights in your office (if you’re allowed to), close your eyes and just focus on your breathing for the next five minutes.
- Lavender Oil: When I’m feeling jittery or stressed I dab a bit of lavender oil on my wrists and the back of my ears to relax my senses. Lavender aromatherapy has been shown to reduce stress, so try using an aromatherapy mist diffuser in the office to help achieve some Zen.
- Chamomile Tea: A nice hot cup of chamomile tea is generally good for anxiety and stress relief. Chamomile tea raises your levels of glycine, a nerve relaxant, which helps calm muscle spasms.
And that about sums it up! When I’m having a hard time getting through projects it’s usually because I’m not getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising or I’m stressed.
What are your common productivity road blocks?
Drop me a line or two in the comments section.