Friday 2 February 2018

How To Increase Your Workday Productivity, Get More Sleep

It can sometimes seem like the hunt for more productivity is the holy grail of our age. Governments talk about it endlessly, businesses think about it constantly and chances are you spend a lot of time considering it too. Why else would you be reading this article?

An entire industry has been built up around giving advice on productivity. Countless books, podcasts and apps all exist, promising the secret of greater efficiency. Well, I am here to tell that the answer isn’t so hard. Actually it is really simple, completely free and best yet it’s something we all enjoy doing. To be more productive all we need to do is get more sleep. 

Yep simple as that! It may seem counterintuitive to suggest staying in bed longer means you will get more done. But it will. Productivity is all about maximising your brain’s potential and sleep is key to that. Read on below I will explain why...

Sleep makes you more accurate:
The experts are constantly reminding us of the benefits of a good night’s rest. One of them is accuracy. An individual who slept well makes less mistakes than someone who is sleep-deprived. The less mistakes you make the less time you waste and the more productive you are. Research has even shown that someone who is even moderately sleep deprived has a slower response time and reduced accuracy levels than an individual who has been drinking alcohol.

Think about that for a moment:
A lack of sleep can under some circumstances have a greater impact on your accuracy than drink. Now you wouldn't start your workday with a glass of wine would you? So don't start your working day without enough sleep.

Sleep improves your memory:
If you’re anything like me, you probably waste a chuck of time each day trying to remember something you really ought to know – your email password, the location of your house keys, your child’s name. All those wasted seconds quickly add up to put quite a dent in your daily productivity.

Well get a few more good night's sleep and you will find you will never forget a password again. The connection between good sleep and a good memory are well documented. Firstly, a well rested brain is able to process more information more quickly than a tired one. This means data is recorded more precisely. 

Secondly, the information we take in during the day is processed by our brain while we sleep. The day's events are basically replayed and anything our brain deems important is transferred to our long-term memory. A phenomenon known as 'consolidation'. This process is much more efficient with a good night of unbroken sleep.

Sleep helps you maintain focus:
One of the essential skills of truly productive people is their ability to stay focused on the task at hand. To stick with it the job, no matter how dull it is, until completion. 

We all get distracted from time to time, it's an inevitable consequence of living in such a fascinating world. Sleep however can play a big role in how well we recover from distractions.

According to researchers at Harvard, brain scans show that a sleep-deprived individual can perform just as ably as a well-rested individual at any given task up until the moment the crucial moment they are distracted. 

Say the phone rings or there is a knock at the door. The weary individual will then find it much more difficult, if not impossible, to regain the same level of focus as before. The areas of the brain that should kick into gear to refocus simply don’t perform. 
Sleep helps you make better decisions:
Being productive is about being able to make good decisions, quickly. When you are sleep-deprived this is almost impossible.
Think back to your last hangover day and how long it took you to choose which takeout to get! And that's not even a important choice.

On any given work day, even the most mundane, you are likely to be called upon to make countless decisions, some big and some seemingly tiny. Making good decisions is all about processing speed and without sleep our brain’s cognitive performance is hampered.
Sleeplessness basically creates multiple short-circuits in our thought processes that prevent us from making the correct choices.

You've heard the phrase 'let's sleep on it' right? The postponement of a decision until both parties have had time to think about and return to the table fresh the morning after...well, there is wisdom in those words. Heed them. 

And there you have it - four ways in which a good night’s sleep will increase your workday productive. An extra hour in bed is not an hour wasted it’s the exact opposite. Tiredness leads to sloppiness and being productive demands the exact opposite. 

Sleep well tonight and enjoy a productive tomorrow.