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22 Ways to Become More Productive (According to Science)

Jul 17, 2023

Do you ever feel like you need to catch up on tasks, no matter how hard you try to stay on top of things? I once did. 

I was voted the laziest student in my final year of high school. Instead of letting that label define me, I took it as an opportunity to turn things around. I dove into researching productivity strategies and was amazed by what I discovered.

Many of us struggle with staying focused and managing a heavy workload, but the good news is that it doesn't have to be that way. From prioritizing and finding your peak work hours to creating daily to-do lists, there are simple steps to boost your productivity, whether you're a student, employee, or business owner.

But it's about more than just having better time management skills. Poor physical health and stress can also impede productivity, with 41% of stressed employees reporting that stress negatively affects their work. That's why we've gathered a list of strategies to increase productivity, improve physical health, and reduce stress. 

To assist you, here are a few strategies that will help you perform better at work. Discover the method that works best for you in our list of productivity-boosting techniques.

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Table of Contents

22 Science-Backed Strategies to Become More Productive

1. Get Enough Sleep

Maximize your workday productivity by ensuring you get enough quality sleep each night. Determine your optimal amount of sleep and adopt habits that promote restful sleep. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can hurt job performance, as it can cause decreased cognitive function, slowed reactions, and increased emotional fatigue.

Don't rely on caffeine to compensate for lost sleep. Instead, establish a consistent bedtime and make it a priority to get the rest your body needs. A well-rested mind and body will enhance work performance and overall productivity.

Additionally, after a productive day at work, it's important to transition into relaxation mode and get ready for a good night's sleep. An evening routine can help you unwind and mentally prepare for bed. With the Focus Bear app, you can easily set up and track a personalized evening routine that includes activities such as meditation, journaling, reading, or stretching.

Screenshot of the Focus Bear app's evening routine reminder, encouraging the user to wind down and engage in a series of activities for relaxation and preparation for a restful night

2. Prioritize Tasks

Balancing a heavy workload can be overwhelming, hindering progress. The key to overcoming this challenge is prioritization. Organize your tasks based on importance and tackle the critical ones first.

An excellent resource for learning more about this approach is the book "The One Thing" by Gary Keller and Jay Papason. The authors discuss the impact of focusing on one task at a time on productivity and how it can lead to more excellent results. 

3. Use the Pomodoro Technique

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's Pomodoro mode feature, enabling users to efficiently manage their time by alternating between focused work sessions and short breaks

If you’re carried away by minor distractions, the Pomodoro technique is for you. To implement this method, you need a timer and a task list. Each task is assigned a unit of time, known as a Pomodoro, which typically lasts 25 minutes. You work on a task uninterrupted during each Pomodoro until the timer goes off. Any new ideas or tasks can be recorded for later attention during a short break.

This technique has been proven effective in managing time, reducing distractions, and increasing productivity. It was created by Francesco Cirillo and is detailed in his book, "The Pomodoro Technique." With a bit of customization, you can use this method to boost your productivity and become a more efficient version of yourself.

4. Take Breaks After Deep Work

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear prompting the user to engage in a 1-minute push-up exercise during their break for a quick burst of physical activity

Contrary to popular belief, taking regular breaks can improve productivity. The key is to take short, intentional breaks after periods of focused work. This allows your brain to recharge and refocus.

While taking breaks as needed is okay, using a productivity app like Focus Bear to monitor your work and remind you when to take a break can be even more effective. For a deeper dive into this concept, check out Cal Newport's book "Deep Work," which provides insights and guidance on increasing focus and productivity through intentional breaks and deep work sessions.

5. Minimize Distractions

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's website blocking feature in action, preventing access to distracting websites for enhanced focus and productivity

Although technology has made work life a lot easier, it also opened up room for a truckload of distractions, especially from the internet. The alerts and notifications from different online platforms are eye-catching and can easily lure you into non-stop scrolling when you should be getting work done. Everyone has been guilty of this at least once.

Overcoming distractions can be a hard nut to crack by yourself, but you can do it successfully with a digital app blocker. For instance, Focus Bear has a feature that helps you block websites for a specific period. 

Reading books is another way to gain valuable productivity insights and minimize distractions. For example, Nir Eyal's "Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life" provides a scientific understanding of distractions and practical strategies for overcoming them.

6. Do Positive Affirmations

Be kind to yourself. Sometimes it’s harder to be productive when you haven’t decided in your heart that you can and will get the job done. So before you jump on the clock each day, say a few words of positivity to yourself. When you affirm that ‘you are happy to finish your tasks’ or that ‘you are solution-oriented and can overcome barriers,’ you increase your enthusiasm for work and push your productivity levels higher.

Research supports the idea that positive affirmations can have a positive impact on the brain. When we repeat affirmations to ourselves, it activates the areas in our brain related to self-awareness and rewards. Additionally, incorporating positive affirmations into our daily routine can boost our self-confidence and strengthen our sense of self-efficacy.

If you're seeking inspiration to boost motivation and productivity, consider creating a list of daily positive affirmations. Alternatively, you can turn to Norman Vincent Peale's classic book "The Power of Positive Thinking" for practical examples and guidance.

7. Exercise Regularly

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear prompting the user to input the number of push-ups completed as part of their exercise routine

A huge part of learning to be more productive is learning to give more attention to your physical health. Regular exercise helps battle stress and fatigue and improves your general well-being. It uplifts your spirit and makes you more lighthearted, so that you see the task before you as a piece of cake.

Physical activity has been shown to increase energy levels and improve brain function, ultimately enhancing productivity. 

To understand this connection more deeply, consider reading John J. Ratey's book "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain." It provides insightful information on how exercise can catalyze increased productivity and help you tackle your tasks easily.

8. Stay Hydrated

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear displaying a video guide of a man drinking water, promoting hydration during the user's routine or break

Water does amazing things to your body's metabolism, so taking small sips at intervals while you work is essential. Think about the fact that 73% of your brain is water. Your ability to be productive is tied to hydration.

Research shows that even mild dehydration, about 1 or 2% loss of body water, impairs cognitive performance. Drinking water eases dehydration and expands the brain’s grey matter. 

Want to be productive? Pour yourself a glass of water right now and down every last drop.

9. Find Your Optimal Work Schedule

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's morning routine reminder, prompting the user to kickstart their day with a productive routine

Maximizing productivity often involves understanding your work patterns. Take the time to reflect and identify your peak productive hours, whether in the early morning or late at night. By scheduling your most important tasks during these times, you can take advantage of your natural energy levels and tackle them with greater focus and efficiency. For more complex tasks, you can break them down and keep track using project management tools

For example, I'm most productive at night when it's quieter, so I schedule my most demanding tasks for later in the evening. To ensure I stay on track, I set reminders in my digital task manager, Focus Bear, to remind me when it's time for focused work. Timing is crucial for productivity, and Daniel H. Pink's book "When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing" provides additional insights on finding your optimal work schedule.

10. Use To-Do Lists

Creating a to-do list can make your workload feel more manageable and organized. Breaking down tasks into smaller, achievable items can reduce stress and increase a sense of control. Keeping track of your progress by ticking off completed tasks can also provide a sense of satisfaction and motivation.

While writing a to-do list by hand can be effective, using a digital task manager like Focus Bear can provide even more benefits. This allows for better control and organization of your tasks and improved time management. David Allen's book "Getting Things Done" provides insights into the importance of to-do lists and how they can boost productivity.

11. Take Breaks to Move Around

Maximizing productivity and reducing burnout can be achieved by taking frequent daily breaks. Spending extended periods sitting at a desk can lead to a decline in creativity, increased fatigue, and decreased motivation.

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's reminder to take a break and engage in push-ups for an energizing pause

By taking breaks, such as stretching during a microbreak or stepping away from your workstation during a lunch break, you can alleviate muscle soreness and experience a boost in creativity. If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of movement in the workplace, consider reading "Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World" by Kelly Starrett. This book highlights the positive impact that incorporating movement into your workday can have on your overall productivity and well-being. 

12. Set Clear Goals

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's greeting and encouraging the user to stay focused throughout the day for continued productivity and achievement

When faced with multiple school assignments and projects, divide each task into specific, daily goals. This method, known as the SMART goal technique, involves setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound. 

You can stay focused and on track by defining a clear, achievable goal and measuring the necessary effort to reach it. Additionally, ensuring the goal is relevant to your overall objective and setting a realistic deadline ensures you stay productive. 

For more information on goal setting and achieving success, consider reading Brian Tracy's book, "Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want - Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible.”

13. Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Health

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear displaying a YouTube video guide for deep breathing exercises during breaks or routine sessions

Investing in your physical and emotional well-being can significantly impact your productivity. 

Adopting healthy habits, such as incorporating a balanced diet that includes fruits and regular physical activity, can help boost your energy levels and improve your ability to focus on work. 

Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can also enhance your overall health and contribute to your overall productivity. 

14. Use Time Blocking

Effective time management is a key component of productivity, and one of the most valuable techniques for achieving this is through time blocking. This strategy involves dividing your day into specific, dedicated blocks of time for completing both personal and professional tasks.

For those who tend to procrastinate and let tasks pile up, time blocking can be particularly helpful. By prioritizing and allocating dedicated time for each task, you can avoid falling into the trap of waiting until the last minute to complete important work.

Consider using a digital task manager such as Focus Bear to assist with time blocking. This can help you structure your day and make the most of your time, allowing you to accomplish a significant amount in a shorter time frame. As a result, you'll be better able to meet deadlines and produce high-quality work. 

15. Take Mini Breaks Throughout the Day

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's reminder feature, prompting users to take a break for enhanced productivity and well-being

To keep your productivity at its highest and avoid burnout, take regular breaks. Research has shown that taking mini breaks after focused work can significantly improve your concentration and reduce the risk of injury associated with prolonged sitting.

To ensure you're taking the right amount of breaks, consider using a digital tool like Focus Bear. This app features a notification system to remind you when it's time to take a break, as well as an auto-detection feature that recognizes when you're in a meeting and won't interrupt.

For additional ideas on how to effectively take breaks and live in the moment, check out "1,001 Ways to Live in the Moment" by Barbara Ann Kipfer. 

16. Use Technology to Your Advantage

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear's 'Edit Habit' page, enabling users to add or customize Focus Modes for personalized productivity

Technology, especially smartphones and the internet, can be major distractions in the workplace. However, instead of viewing technology as a hindrance to productivity, consider ways to harness its potential. Many successful businesses use technology applications to streamline complex processes and workflows, freeing up time for more significant tasks.

Apps with features such as automation and task management can help to simplify repetitive tasks and make the workday more efficient. Utilizing these tools can also promote a more focused work environment and reduce distractions. For instance, Focus Bear, designed by neuroscientists, offers cross-device distraction blocking and break suggestions to enhance productivity.

It's essential to adopt a mindful approach to technology and choose digital tools that align with your company's goals. Investing in technology can be a game-changer for productivity, and it's worth considering for your business. For more insights on how to effectively use technology, refer to Cal Newport's book "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World."

17. Take Breaks from Screens

Spending a significant portion of your day staring at a screen, whether for work or leisure, can affect your productivity and overall well-being. To combat this, taking regular breaks from screens and engage in activities that don't require screen time.

While disconnecting from technology can be challenging, especially for those who are addicted to their devices, utilizing a digital task manager can make the process easier. Applications like Focus Bear offer reminders for taking breaks every 20 minutes to give your eyes a break and recharge your energy levels.

So, instead of relying solely on screens for entertainment or productivity, take some time to engage in different activities and give your eyes and brain a much-needed break. By doing this, you can improve your focus, increase your productivity, and receive recognition from your employer for a job well done. 

18. Practice Mindfulness

Screenshot of ADHD App: Focus Bear showing users engaged in guided meditation during their breaks

Staying centered and in control of your emotions is essential to achieving peak performance at work or school. This can be a challenge, but it's possible if you make a deliberate effort. Incorporating daily practices like mindfulness meditation can help you maintain a calm and positive outlook, even in stressful situations. 

By focusing your thoughts on happy and peaceful feelings, you can optimize both your mind and body for optimal performance.

If you're interested in learning more about incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, consider reading "The Practicing Happiness Workbook: How Mindfulness Can Free You from the Four Psychological Traps That Keep You Stressed, Anxious, and Depressed" by Ruth Baer. This book provides practical tips and exercises to help you find peace of mind and improve your overall productivity.

19. Use the Eisenhower Matrix

Eisenhower Matrix

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If your work performance is being impacted by your inability to prioritize tasks and manage your time effectively, consider utilizing the Eisenhower Matrix. This framework is designed to help you categorize your tasks and agendas based on their level of importance and urgency, enabling you to make more informed decisions and increase your productivity.

To put the Eisenhower Matrix into practice, start by creating a list of all the tasks you need to complete. Reorganize these tasks based on their level of urgency and importance, with those with closer deadlines taking precedence. By using this system, you can work more efficiently and reach your daily goals faster. For additional tips and guidance on how to effectively use the Eisenhower Matrix, we recommend reading "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey.

20. Take Breaks to Do Something Enjoyable

As the saying goes, ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ Translation: don’t shut out your inner child completely while working. Take breaks to do an activity you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be anything rigorous. You could play games that don’t involve screen time such as chess. Some people find it hard to relax, and when they manage to, they feel guilty. 

If you’re some person, you should know that a study has shown that taking breaks to do things that are detached from work increases energy and reduces exhaustion. What’s more? The book “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown provides valuable information on the importance of play in our lives and why we shouldn’t exclude it.

21. Use the Two-Minute Rule

The Two-Minute Rule is a simple concept that suggests that if a task can be completed in two minutes or less, it should be done immediately, without delay. As an example, if you see a pile of dishes in the sink, instead of procrastinating or adding it to your to-do list, take two minutes to wash them. By avoiding procrastination and handling small tasks promptly, you can save yourself from a bigger workload down the line.

One way to put this into practice is by using a digital app such as Focus Bear, which allows you to set a two-minute time block dedicated exclusively to completing the task at hand. For more information on the Two-Minute Rule, consider reading the book "The Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy.

22. Delegate Tasks

Be open to the idea of sharing. When the workload is overburdening your shoulders, don’t be too shy to ask for help. Divide the task and delegate it to the other team members. And if you don’t have a team, create one. Division of labor is the perfect way to get stuff done. 

Find capable and qualified individuals to handle some of the work, setting a specific deadline for completion. You can produce more output in less time by utilizing delegation, maximizing productivity and reducing stress. To learn more about the benefits of delegation and why it is an essential management technique, refer to the book "The One Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. 

How to Choose What Productivity Technique to Use? 

It's great to be motivated to boost your productivity, but it's important to find the right technique that aligns with your personal preferences and work style. What works well for one person may not be as effective for another, especially for those who work from home compared to an office environment. 

Here are some ways to determine the best productivity technique for you:

Consider Your Kind of Work

For example, if you're a researcher or a writer, you might benefit from dedicating a certain amount of time each day to deep work. This means setting aside distractions, such as emails and social media, and focusing solely on your work for a set period of time. This type of focused work can help you make significant progress on projects and achieve more in less time. 

On the other hand, the Pomodoro technique and creating a daily to-do list might be more effective for an office worker.

Study Your Style of Working

Take time to discover your work style, including your optimal work hours. For example, if you feel more energetic in the mornings, the Eisenhower matrix will work like magic because it lets you focus on your most urgent and important tasks first. So before jumping on any productivity technique, monitor yourself to find out how you like to get work done, then choose the method that best optimizes that style.

Check If There’s Been Any Progress

If you’ve already begun using a particular technique, you should monitor your productivity stats to see if the strategy is yielding results. If it’s not, take note of what didn’t go right, and then use that information to pinpoint the system that would be a better fit. A little trial and error might spring up, but eventually, you will find the perfect technique that helps you enhance your productivity.

FAQs About Improving Productivity

We canvassed the internet and pinpointed the most frequently asked questions about improving productivity. Here are the answers to some of them:

Why is it essential to become productive?

It is essential to become productive because you can get much work done quickly and have more time to focus on other activities.

What makes a person productive?

People are productive when they can form a daily routine, tune out distractions, and focus on completing daily tasks.

How can I be productive in my daily life?

You can be productive in your daily life by sleeping more, exercising more, setting daily goals, and working towards achieving said goals. You can also utilize productivity techniques such as taking strategic breaks, using a time blocker, making daily or weekly to-do lists, and discovering your peak productive hours.

What motivates people to be productive?

People are motivated to be productive by factors such as passion, money, power, and recognition.

What are examples of good productivity?

Examples of good productivity are breaking large tasks into smaller bits, prioritizing your essential tasks, taking breaks after deep work, and developing an energizing morning routine.

Ready to Become More Productive This Year? 

Learning to become the most productive version of yourself is a massive step in the right direction, mainly because your ability to deliver makes you invaluable in any circle. However, you don’t have to walk this path on your own. Download Focus Bear and get a beary helpful companion to show you the ropes and provide you with strict guidelines when necessary. 

Jul 17, 2023

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