Nothing feels worse than ending the day with most of the things on your to-do list still left unfinished. Where did the time even go? When it comes to productivity, training your brain to avoid distraction and multitasking is easier said than done.
Building up enough self-discipline to make it a solid habit takes time, but there’s no reason why you can’t start making good progress right now. With just a few of these ridiculously simple brain tricks, you’ll be crossing things off your to-do list faster than you expected!
1. Use the Pomodoro Technique to Increase Your Stamina.
The Pomodoro technique is perhaps my favorite productivity tool, and all you need for it is a simple kitchen timer or a timer app on your smartphone. It involves using very short blocks of time (25 minutes) to focus on completing a task, followed by a short break (5 minutes).
By focusing on one task for a short time, coupled with taking frequent breaks, you’ll likely end up getting more done faster and find that you’ll be able to work longer without losing focus or energy.
Set the timer for 25 minutes of completely focused and uninterrupted work, after which you’ll get a 5-minute break to stand up, stretch, go to the bathroom, get a drink or do anything else you need to do. Repeat this four times, after which you’ll get a longer 40-minute break.
2. Train Your Brain Like a Dog by Bribing Yourself With a Small Reward.
I love this idea, and I use it all the time particularly for tasks I really don’t want to do. Just like you can train your dog to do all sorts of tricks as he stares longingly at the treat you’re holding right in front of him, you can sort of do a similar thing with your brain.
First, pick out a pleasurable reward that ideally serves to enhance your productivity rather than derail it. For example, it might be something as simple as lunch or a cup of coffee. You could even reward yourself with a short walk around the block or a few minutes spent checking Instagram on your phone.
Write it down on a Post-It note and keep it beside you as you work. When you get your task done, you’ll be able to indulge a little.
3. Take a Coffee Nap to Boost Alertness.
When you feel like you could doze off, consider drinking a cup of fully caffeinated coffee immediately before going down for a short 20-minute nap. This is one productivity technique that the web has been raving about lately!
Caffeine wakes you up, but it takes about 20 minutes before you really begin to feel it. And since a 20-minute nap is the perfect amount of time needed to refresh your brain without pushing you into a deep sleep, doing both together is better than doing just one of them alone.
4. Listen to the Right Type of Music That Stimulates Your Brain the Right Way.
Despite everyone’s personal tastes in music, specific genres of music have been shown to enhance different functions in the brain. Check out these science-backed ways on how to get the most out of music for some suggestions on what to listen to according to what you’re trying to accomplish.
Work that takes a lot of mental power and creativity, for example, can be enhanced by listening to ambient music with no lyrics at a moderate volume level. Try it and see how it works for you!
5. Incorporate Pieces of Nature Into Your Workspace to Combat Stress and Anxiety.
Whether you realize it or not, it’s completely natural for humans to look toward nature to help ground themselves and get rid of negative feelings like stress, anxiety and overwhelm. So if you can position your workspace near a big window that lets lots of natural light in and ideally looks out onto some trees or green space, you’ll be doing yourself a big favor.
If that doesn’t work, you can create a similar calming sensation by using house plants or photos of nature near your workspace, while also toning down any artificial light from your computer screen, lamps and light fixtures. Even if you can’t work directly near a window, try to maximize the amount of natural light flowing through the space as much as you can.