14 Ways to Boost Your Productivity – Backed by Science

14 Ways to Boost Your Productivity – Backed by Science

science productivity

Get ready to skyrocket your productivity!

Here you are again - reading yet another productivity article.

Just can’t get enough of those, can you?

I don’t blame you...

I’m obsessed with getting more and more done myself. And from time to time we just have to satisfy our thirst for productivity advice.

Today, it seems, I’m the one providing that sweet satisfaction for you.

I’ve prepared a 14 course menu of productivity tips - all backed by science.

Enjoy!

More...

Download this checklist of 14 ways to boost your productivity - backed by science.

1. Track Your Time

tracking time

“What gets measured gets improved.” – Robin Sharma

Here’s a cool little secret you might want to remember for the rest of your life. Robin Sharma is right:

What gets measured gets improved.

When researchers study the effects of a given intervention, simply asking participants to track a specific outcome makes them more likely to improve.

Here’s an example: When people are assigned to wear a pedometer, they walk at least one extra mile per day on average and improve their overall activity levels by 27%. [1]

You can use this to your advantage by measuring your productivity.

One way to do that is by tracking your time. Simply measure exactly how you are currently using your time.

That tracking alone will magically make you waste less time (and instead make you spend more time on high value activities).

It just doesn’t feel right to track stuff like:

  • Checking email for the 20th time today
  • Watching TV for 2 hours straight
  • Chilling on social media for 30 minutes
  • Watching cat videos on YouTube for 50 minutes
  • Tracking is a great way to hold yourself accountable.

Here’s what will happen…

You’ll want to waste time with some silly activity. But because it would feel so shitty to track it later on, you just can’t do it. You just can’t do that to yourself. You’ll just NOT want to track time you’ve obviously completely wasted. (If that makes any sense at all…)

It works like a charm.

You can either do this tracking by hand, on your computer, or with your smartphone. I currently use an app called Toggl and it does the job quite well. (Here’s a good Toggl review.)

Bottom line: Thanks to the what-gets-measured-gets-improved-effect, tracking your time will immediately help you waste less time and spend more time on high value activities. Just record exactly how you’re spending your time either on a sheet of paper or with an app like Toggl.

2. Push Hard During the First Few Hours of the Day

work hard early in the day

Research has shown that your mood may hold the key to productivity.

Specifically, one study has found that employees’ moods when they clocked in tended to affect how they felt for the rest of the day. If you start your day in a great mood, you’re likely to stay in that positive mood for the rest of the day - and vice versa. [2]

The researchers also found that mood had a great effect on employees’ performance. The better the mood, the higher the performance. The worse the mood, the lower the performance.

This means:

Improve your mood, improve your productivity.

Which begs the question,

“How can you influence your mood - and thus your productivity?”

The #1 modulator of your mood is… PROGRESS.

Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, studies how people’s mood and their performances are influenced by everyday life situations in organizations. She has analyzed over 12,000 diary entries from 238 employees and found something remarkable:

Making progress on a meaningful goal feels great and is highly motivating.

She’s coined this as The Progress Principle:

“Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run. Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress—even a small win—can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.”

In short:

Making progress - even a small win - on a meaningful goal (in her case meaningful work) is the #1 way to boost your mood and thus your productivity.

Needless to say, setbacks are terrible for your mood and productivity.

“Unfortunately, there is a flip side. Small losses or setbacks can have an extremely negative effect on inner work life. In fact, our study and research by others show that negative events can have a more powerful impact than positive ones.”
  • Progress improves productivity
  • Setbacks lower productivity

Let’s bring this back full circle:

Your mood has a huge impact on your productivity. Once you’re in a certain mood, you tend to stay in that mood for the rest of the day. The #1 key to your mood is making progress on meaningful goals.

Therefore, to boost your productivity, you want to invest in your early day mood. You want to be as productive and disciplined as possible during those first 2-3 hours of your day.

Making progress and preventing setbacks gets you in a great mood. Once you’re in that great mood, you’re likely to stay in it and you end up with a highly productive and enjoyable day.

Easy peasy.

How to make sure you have a great start to the day? Check out the next tip!

Bottom line: Start your day running and push yourself hard during the first few hours of the day. Be as disciplined as possible, get meaningful work done, and make as much of that mood-enhancing progress as possible. This boosts your mood and supercharges your productivity for the rest of the day.

3. Plan Your Day the Night Before

plan your day

The last tip was all about starting your day in a disciplined and productive manner (which in turn will boost your mood and your productivity).

Planning your day the night before is all about increasing the likelihoods of experiencing that kind of awesome start to your day.

Several reasons why that works:

Reason #1) Having a plan allows you to schedule work on your meaningful goals in the first few hours of the day. Then, because you’re making progress, your mood starts going up and so will your productivity.

Without a plan, chances are you’ll end up doing what’s convenient and/or urgent. Hence, no progress on meaningful goals, no mood boost, and no productivity boost.

Reason #2) Research shows that creating a specific plan makes you more likely to do a certain behavior than not having a plan.

In one study, participants had to write a report two days after Christmas Eve about how they spent their holidays. [3] There were two groups:

  • Group 1: Had to specify where, when, and how they were going to write the report (=created a plan).
  • Group 2: Didn’t create a plan.

Of the participants who made a plan, 71% sent the report back in to the researchers. Of participants who hadn’t formed a plan, only 32% sent back a report.

Just knowing you want to start your day productively isn’t enough… you need to actually create a plan to make it more likely to happen.

Reason #3) Creating a plan helps you free up mental space for whatever you are doing right now. According to a 2011 study writing down what you’ll need to do the next day relieves anxiety and lets you enjoy your evening. [4]

Bottom line: Plan your day - or at least the first few hours of the day - the night before. This allows you to make mood-boosting and productivity-enhancing progress on meaningful goals early in the day, and even helps you enjoy your evening.

4. Create a Daily Accomplishments List

accomplishment list productivity

Sample accomplishment list from Jonas

Remember that progress - even a small win - feels good, creates motivation, and makes you more productive?

The problem is:

Most of us rarely notice, let alone acknowledge our small wins.

This happens because of our negativity bias - our brain’s mechanism of fading out all the positive stuff and just showing us the negative.

Rick Hanson puts it well in Hardwiring Happiness:

“When the least little thing goes wrong or could be trouble, the brain zooms in on it with a kind of tunnel vision that downplays everything else. If your boss gives you an excellent performance review that contains just one piece of critical feedback in a bucket of praise, you’ll likely focus on that one negative comment.”

Your brain will show you all the little setbacks (which lower productivity), while completely sliding the small wins (which boost productivity) past your attention.

That means, to boost your productivity, you need to actively acknowledge your progress - even the tiniest wins.

The easiest way to do that is by keeping a daily accomplishments list on which you record all of your small wins. There’s no need to overcomplicate this… just write down your accomplishments on a sheet of paper, record them in an excel file, or download a suitable app.

Here’s a list to give you an idea of what you might add as a small win:

  • Meditated for 20mins
  • Ate some broccoli
  • Had a cool conversation with Becky during lunch
  • Finally found a solution to problem XYZ
  • Finished small project UFH
  • Didn’t check email during my work sprint
  • Exercised for 10mins
  • Worked super hard without getting distracted for 50 minutes straight
  • etc…

Bottom line: Record your small wins on a daily accomplishments list. This helps you acknowledge your progress and thus boosts your mood and productivity.

5. Single-Task

single-task science

Did you know that multitasking, as we use the term, doesn’t actually work?

Don’t get me wrong, we can do two things at the same time as long as they’re easy and undemanding - such as walking while talking, or cooking dinner while listening to some music.

What we can’t do is concentrate on two tasks at the same time. Instead, we’re forcing our brain to quickly switch back and forth between the tasks. Serial tasking would actually be a more appropriate term.

And serial tasking would be fine if our brain could seamlessly transition from one task to another, but it can’t.

Every time your brain has to stop and restart, it loses a little bit of time. Completing two tasks “simultaneously” takes longer than completing one task after another.

How much longer?

One study suggests that multitasking lowers your productivity by up to 40% (!). [5]

Think that’s bad? It gets worse…

Studies also show that multitasking temporarily lowers your IQ, shrinks your brain, and stresses you out for no good reason. [6][7][8] Frankly, it’s TERRIBLE for your productivity and the health of your brain.

Bottom line: Multitasking lowers your productivity by up to 40%, SHRINKS your brain, temporarily lowers your IQ, and stresses you out. Stop this madness and focus on completing one task after the other.

6. Eliminate All Distractions

eliminate distractions to improve productivity

What if you’re trying to single-task, but are constantly getting distracted?

There’s a quick glance at your Facebook newsfeed. Here’s a quick email check. Oh, and that’s a notification coming in. Oh, and congrats: You just received a text message. Oh, you’re already responding to that message? Aren’t you supposed to be working?

Well, well, well…

Turns out such distractions aren’t helping your productivity. (No shit Sherlock?!)

One study in 2003 found that the typical person checks his or her email once every 5 (!) minutes. And, on average, it takes them 64 seconds to resume the previous task. [9]

Because of email alone we already waste one out of every six minutes.

And it gets worse…

The book Scarcity: Why having too little means so much mentions the following study:

“(They looked at) a school in New Haven that was located next to a noisy railroad line. To measure the impact of this noise on academic performance, two researchers noted that only one side of the school faced the tracks, so the students in classrooms on that side were particularly exposed to the noise but were otherwise similar to their fellow students. They found a striking difference between the two sides of the school. Sixth graders on the train side were a full year behind their counterparts on the quieter side. Further evidence came when the city, prompted by this study, installed noise pads. The researchers found this erased the difference: now students on both sides of the building performed at the same level.”

In short:

Students whose classroom was situated close to a noisy railroad line ended up academically a full year behind students situated in a quiet classroom. When the noise got dampened, the performance difference went away.

Scary, huh?

If you want to be as productive as possible, eliminate ALL distractions:

  • no phone
  • no emails
  • no notifications
  • no calls
  • no conversations
  • no Facebook
  • no news
  • no distracting noise (!)

I never said this was going to be easy or fun…

Bottom line: Distractions KILL your performance and steal your time - they need to be eliminated. That means turning off your phone, blocking distracting websites with a tool like coldturkey, turning off notifications, and getting rid of anything else that distracts you.

7. Work On a Single Task, Uninterruptedly, For a Long Period Of Time

focus and be productive

So you stopped multitasking and eliminated all distractions.

Great!

Yet, you may still be trying to do too many things at once.

Let me explain…

You’re working on project A for 15 minutes, then have to attend a meeting, get back to working on project A for 10 minutes, then switch to working on project B for 20 minutes, and then need to get on a phone call for project C.

In other words, you are transitioning from one task or project to another fairly quickly.

That is miles better than multitasking, but still not quite ideal.

You see… every time you switch to a new project, your attention doesn’t immediately follow. Instead, a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking and wrestling with the previous project.

This is called attention residue, a term that was originally coined by Sophie Leroy. She explains why switching quickly between projects isn’t a smart idea:

"People experiencing attention residue after switching tasks are likely to demonstrate poor performance on that next task".

It takes your brain some time to “forget” about the last task or project before it can fully concentrate on the new one. That’s why you’re experiencing poor performance on the next task, as Leroy just described.

Bottom line: Work on a single task, uninterruptedly, for a sustained period of time to minimize the effects performance-robbing effects of attention residue.

8. Take Two Kinds Of Breaks

take breaks for productivity

By now you’ve probably heard the news:

Taking frequent breaks will boost your productivity.

To get the maximum out of your breaks, you want to distinguish between two types:

#1 Mini breaks (~10-120 seconds)

This is where it gets a little bit controversial. I’ve just told you how terrible distractions are and that you should get completely rid of them.

Well… turns out our brains aren’t optimized for focusing on one thing, without any interruptions for more than 15-20 minutes.

A study in the journal Cognition showed that people can maintain their focus or vigilance much longer when their brains are given something else to think about every 20 minutes. [10]

Giving your brain something else to focus on - even for just a few seconds - seems enough to refresh the working neural circuits you’re “exercising” on your current task.

Now, that’s ONE tiny distraction once every 20 minutes… NOT constantly being distracted during the 20 minutes.

Neuroscientist Mark Waldman has found such tiny breaks beneficial as well:

“Our research has found that taking 2-3 breaks during each hour to consciously relax, stretch, meditate, or do something pleasurable –even for 10 seconds –will reduce stress, enhance your awareness, and significantly boost your concentration and productivity.”

So, every approximately 20 minutes, take a mini break of 10 - 120 seconds. Here are some ideas:

  • take a few deep breaths
  • yawn and stretch
  • look at nature (outside the window or even just on a picture)

These three activities are all shown to be highly relaxing and rejuvenating for the brain.

If you’re sitting all day, it’s also a great idea to just quickly stand up. Researcher Joan Vernikos has found that regularly interrupting the sitting (e.g. by standing up) is an easy way to counteract some of the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

Bottom line: Replenish some of your hard-working neural circuits by giving them something else to focus on every 20 minutes. Take a mini break for 10-120 seconds to stand up, take a few deep breaths, yawn and stretch, or have a quick glance at nature.

#2 Recovery breaks (~15-20 minutes)

Once you’ve been working on a single task, uninterruptedly (with mini breaks), for approximately 60-120 minutes, it’s time for a recovery break. This helps give your attention a rest and replenishes your energy tank.

Researcher K. Anders Ericsson studies elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. He has found the best performers in each of these fields typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last approximately 90 minutes followed by 15 minute breaks.

Other research by time-tracking app Desktime found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes, and then take a break for 17 minutes.

The takeaway here is that you want to work hard for approximately 1-2 hours and then take a break for 15-20 minutes. Don’t overcomplicate exactly how long you “should” work or rest… just see how it fits with your schedule.

Now… what to do during your recovery breaks?

Obviously, there are better and worse ways to spend your recovery time.

Surfing the web, watching TV, checking your social media feeds, or reading the news won’t give you the highest possible returns from your breaks.

Instead, you may want to choose one of the following activities:

  • Move your body (exercise, go for a walk)
  • Get in nature
  • Boost your mood by doing something you truly enjoy (NOT Facebook!)
  • Calm your mind (meditation, yoga)

The reason these activities are preferable is because they’re all shown individually to increase your productivity.

You kill two birds with one stone because you get the benefits of taking a break PLUS the benefits of doing productivity-boosting activities.

Bottom line: Take a 15-20min recovery break every 1-2 hours. To get the highest returns from your breaks, choose one or more of the following productivity-boosting activities: exercise, going for a walk, getting in nature, doing something you truly enjoy, meditating, or doing yoga.

9. Get an Office Plant

Office plant

Take the green pill!

Short and sweet:

A study in 2014 found that offices ornamented with plantlife can increase employee productivity by up to 15%. [11]

The researchers explain that some greenery in the office turns the workplace into a more enjoyable, comfortable, and ultimately more profitable place.

The reasons for this effect could be manifold. Maybe plants make us feel more relaxed and comfortable. Maybe they filter the air in a beneficial way. Maybe looking at plants makes us feel happy somehow.

Whatever the exact reasons, get some greenery for your office.

Some sort of pot plant will do the trick. I personally have a ficus, an orchid, an aloe vera, and another one that looks like a small palm tree. They look nice, are easy to care for, and apparently boost my productivity.

Bottom line: Get some plantlife for your office to boost your productivity by up to 15%.

10. Listen To the Right Kind Of Music

music for performance

Whoah, whoah, whoah…

“Isn’t music distracting?!”

Yep, the wrong type of music is certainly very distracting. In fact, any music with lyrics is probably distracting and harmful to your productivity.

What I’m talking about here is music scientifically proven and optimized to boost focus and concentration.

You can get access to this type of music with an app called [email protected]:

[email protected] has a unique library of instrumental music that you won’t find anywhere else. Every track has been remixed, re-edited and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement. We’re soothing your fight or flight mechanism, engaging your brain’s limbic system, to increase your attention span and general concentration.”

Obviously, you’ll have to test this out for yourself. Depending on what activity you’re working on, this might be more or less useful.

(Note: Noisli.com is a good free alternative.)

Bottom line: Listening to the right kind of music can boost your focus and attention. Try out [email protected] or noisli.com for scientifically optimized soundtracks.

11. Invest In Your Happiness

happy woman
“Happiness doesn't just flow from success; it actually causes it.” ― Richard Wiseman

Ugh, happiness can wait! Let’s be productive first! And once we’re successful we can be happy, right?

Wrong…

Turns out happiness creates success… much more than the other way around.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, one of the leading happiness researchers, describes the benefits nicely in The How of Happiness:

“In sum, across all the domains of life, happiness appears to have numerous positive by-products that few of us have taken the time to really understand. In becoming happier, we not only boost experiences of joy, contentment, love, pride, and awe but also improve other aspects of our lives: our energy levels, our immune systems, our engagement with work and with other people, and our physical and mental health. In becoming happier, we bolster as well our feelings of self confidence and self-esteem; we come to believe that we are worthy human beings, deserving of respect. A final and perhaps least appreciated plus is that if we become happier, we benefit not only ourselves but also our partners, families, communities, and even society at large.”

The point is:

Happiness creates success and boosts productivity.

In one study for example, happiness led to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappy workers were shown to be 10% less productive. [12]

The researchers concluded:

"We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity. Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings."

This isn’t even very surprising. Think about it:

If you’re pissed off, angry, sad, or lonely, you’re not performing at your best. On the other hand, when you’re feeling happy and grateful about life, you’re performing much better.

Generally, this is the way it works:

  • Positive emotions fuel performance
  • Negative emotions harm performance

The happier you are the more productive you are.

Begs the question, “What can you do to improve your happiness?”

Sonja Lyubomirsky comes to the rescue. In The How of Happiness, she outlines 12 activities that are scientifically proven to boost your happiness:

  1. Expressing Gratitude
  2. Cultivating Optimism
  3. Avoiding Overthinking and Social Comparison
  4. Practicing Acts of Kindness
  5. Nurturing Social Relationships
  6. Developing Strategies for Coping
  7. Learning to Forgive
  8. Increasing Flow Experiences
  9. Savoring Life’s Joys
  10. Committing to Your Goals
  11. Practicing Religion and Spirituality
  12. Taking Care of Your Body: Meditation + Physical Activity + Acting Like a Happy Person

Bottom line: Happiness creates success and is a potent productivity booster. Instead of delaying happiness for the future, actively invest your time in activities that make you happy NOW.

12. Handle Email Properly

business man email headache
"The inbox is nothing but a convenient organizing system for other people's agendas." - Brendon Burchard

How many times have you already checked your email today?

1x? 2x? 5x? 10x? 50x!?!?

Whatever the exact amount… it’s probably too often.

I’ve mentioned the study that showed the typical person checks his or her email once every 5 minutes and that, on average, it takes them 64 seconds to resume the previous task. [13]

That ends up losing you one out of every six minutes just because of email alone.

But wait, there’s more…

Another study looked at 13 workers in a typical office setting and asked them to discontinue email for 5 days. [14]

The results?

Not looking at email on a regular basis at work resulted in higher productivity and considerably less stress.

If you don’t handle it properly, email can be a serious productivity killer. So what should you do? When it comes to dealing with email, these are your best bets:

1. Don’t check email in the morning

Morning is reserved for making progress on meaningful goals, remember?

By checking your email you pretty much do the opposite - you’re now reacting to other people’s agendas. Instead of working on your goals, you’re wasting your best and most important hours on someone else’s goals.

Instead of working on your priorities, you’re letting other people dictate you their priorities.

2. Batch it

The best way to handle email is to designate 2 or 3 times a day when you’ll check and respond to emails.

For the rest of the day email is a no-no.

If you need it for work, set it up so you can send emails without automatically checking.

If you’re still receiving desktop or mobile notifications, turn that shit off.

3. Use Inbox zero

Don’t let email pile up…

Get it to zero during your designated times with the inbox zero system. Check out the video below for clear instructions:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UjeTMb3Yk

Bottom line: Don’t let email get in the way of being productive. Only check it during 2 or 3 designated times a day, get it to inbox zero, and do NOT check it in the morning.

13. Get the Basics Right (Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, Meditation)

follow these basics to get more done

I get it…

You already know about the importance of exercise, nutrition, sleep, and meditation. You’ve heard it a thousand times.

But are you actually getting it right on a daily basis? Most of us are not, and sometimes we just need a quick reminder of exactly why the basics are called “the basics” and why they are so crucial to our performance and life satisfaction.

So here’s that quick reminder…

Exercise - Move your body as much as possible

Here’s a super quick summary of what exercise does for your brain:

(Don’t worry; I won’t bother throwing hundreds of studies at you.)

Exercise improves academic performance, boosts creativity, improves cognitive functioning in areas like memory, planning, attention, concentration, and organization, it protects your brain from aging, stimulates the growth of new neurons, increases the number of dopamine receptors, and even increases the actual size of your brain.

In short:

Exercise and just generally moving your body as much as possible - even just stuff like hiking, gardening, carrying the groceries, taking the stairs, or playing with kids - makes your brain work approximately 1000x better.

If you don’t see how that will improve your productivity, you need to call your doctor immediately…

Sleep - Well and enough

Sleep is one hell of a productivity booster.

A good night’s sleep will increase your memory performance [15], boost your mood and your overall energy [16], enhance creative problem solving skills [17], and help you see the positive in your interactions. [18]

Simply put, a good night’s sleep will boost your productivity, boost your overall mental performance, boost your problem-solving, make you happier, and even make you friendlier. Heck, it will even help you skip a class!

And what if you can’t get enough sleep?

Sleep deprivation will basically make you cranky, moody, unproductive, unhappy, and bad at remembering things. Oh, and there’s one more thing…

…chronic insomnia will actually SHRINK your brain.

Better sleep = better performance.

It’s that simple.

Meditate - On a daily basis

YES:

Meditating on a daily basis is part of the basics.

In today's hectic world of massive distraction a tool that focuses and calms your mind as brilliantly as meditation does just has to be part of your fundamentals. It's THAT important.

What can meditation do for you anyway? (As far as productivity is concerned...)

First off, meditation makes you happier and increases positive emotion [19][20]. Which, as we learned earlier, has a huge impact on how productive you are.

Meditation also lowers your levels of stress [21][22], increases your emotional intelligence [23][24], and improves your overall ability to regulate and control your emotions [25].

The better able you are to control your emotions the more productive you'll be... Think: no more "I don't feel like doing it" and no more wasting time and energy with being upset, angry, disappointed, or whatever.

Next up, meditation strongly increases your ability to focus, concentrate, and pay attention. [26][27][28][29]

It also improves your creative potential, your ability to think outside the box, your memory, [30] and your ability to multitask (controversial, I know). [31]

In fact, meditation literally INCREASES the size of your brain [32]. Brain areas related to focus and paying attention [33] as well as areas related to positive emotions, self-control, and emotional regulation all get bigger with meditation [34][35].

Here's what to do if you're not meditating yet:

  1. Download the Headspace app
  2. Use it to meditate first thing tomorrow morning
  3. Use it to meditate first thing in the morning every day thereafter

This'll help you build the habit of meditating on a daily basis (which will have a huge impact on your productivity and your overall well-being).

Nutrition - Eat healthy

I'll keep this short:

Your nutrition - whether you put healthy or unhealthy food into your body - will by far have the BIGGEST impact on your productivity in the long-run.

If you have a basic understanding of how the human body works, then you know or can at least imagine how crucial nutrition is to your life. It's the very thing you're made of. Think about it: you're basically just a heap of food...

Let me be blunt:

If you're not yet trying to eat healthy then you're really, really, really dumb.

Here's  an analogy:

Imagine the human body as a machine that can be fueled by two different kinds of fuels.

  • Fuel 1: This stuff is a bit cheaper and a bit more convenient to fill into your tank. However, it will also slow your machine down, will make it weaker, will lower its energy, will develop deficiencies, will literally kill your machine in the long-run. Oh, and it will also cost you more money in the long-run.
  • Fuel 2: Is a little bit more expensive and takes a little bit more effort to fill in to the tank. However, it will speed up your machine, will make it stronger, will supercharge its energy, will overall make it perform better, will help it live longer, and will even make it happier. (Yes, machines have feelings, too!) Oh, and this fuel will even turn out to be a lot cheaper in the long-run.

Needless to say, any smart human being would choose fuel #2 (which, I'm sure you've noticed, stands for healthy nutrition).

In our world, however, most people choose fuel #1 (which stands for eating shitty food).

My point is:

Eating unhealthy food makes NO sense whatsoever. It's just dumb.

Anyway, if you're reading this my guess is that you're already trying to eat as healthy as you can. And you're probably trying to figure out which foods to eat and which to avoid etc... and that's all you and I can really do:

Figure out what science is currently showing to be the healthiest stuff to eat and then eat accordingly as good as we can.

What's the healthiest way to eat according to the newest research? I believe it's a low carb - high fat diet which I describe in detail in this article: The Beginner's Guide to the High Fat Diet.

Bottom line: Consistency on the fundamentals is what will have the BIGGEST impact on your productivity in the long-run. Therefore: Eat healthy, exercise regularly, optimize your sleep, and meditate on a daily basis.

14. Take a Nap

napping makes you more productive

I recently read a book titled "Take a Nap! Change your life" by Sara Mednick. She's a leading researcher in the field of sleep and napping. Here's one thing she mentioned that particularly peaked my interest:

"In a perfect world, all humans, including you, would nap."

​When you consider the following research-backed benefits her statement makes total sense:

  • Research by NASA has shown that a 26-minute nap enhances performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%. [36]
  • Taking a 30minute afternoon nap at least three times a week is associated with a 37% lower risk of death from heart disease. [37]
  • A stage 2 sleep nap improved subjective sleepiness, performance level and self-confidence. [38]
  • Naps are a great way to beat jetlag. [39]
  • Napping helps you restore your immune function and lower stress when you’re sleep deprived. It also helps you overcome the negative effects of sleep deprivation on memory and learning. [40][41][42]
  • Afternoon naps improve your ability to multitask (that doesn’t make multitasking a good idea though!) [43]
  • Just knowing you’re going to nap later on is enough to lower blood pressure . [44]

Clearly, napping is a great way to freshen up and boost your productivity.

No wonder legends such as Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, John D. Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and many of today's elite performers are regular nappers.

If you're thinking about getting started yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t nap within 3 hours of going to bed because it might interfere with nighttime sleep 
  • Don’t nap for longer than 2 hours because it might interfere with nighttime sleep 
  • Generally aim for naps between 10-20 minutes to make sure you don’t wake up feeling groggy (I usually set my clock to 25 minutes to give myself enough time to fall asleep) 
  • Realize you’ll get better over time (if you’ve never taken a nap before you might have trouble falling asleep or whatever. Don’t worry… as with everything it will get better with more practice.) 

Bottom line: Next time you're entering the death zone (read: the afternoon slump) and feel like you're slowing down with your work consider taking a nap. You'll wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to plunge back into work.

"To Know And Not to Do Is Really Not to Know." 
— Stephen Covey

I've got some BAD NEWS...

Just knowing about these tips will NOT make you more productive...

Why? Because you have to actually use the tips for them to make you more productive (duh!).

That's why I've created a super simple checklist that you can print out to make sure you actually apply this stuff in your own life. Check it out here:

The End​

And there you have it! Those are 14 pieces of productivity advice backed by science. These strategies form the core of my own productivity system. I honestly believe that even just implementing a few of those tricks will absolutely jumpstart your productivity.

Now I’d love to hear from you! Think these tips are useful? Which one did you like the most? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Nils Salzgeber

Recovering online gaming addict. Recovering procrastinator. Recovering perfectionist. Meditator. Book author. Online teacher. Personal coach. Arsenal FC Fan.

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