Increase Productivity

You know all those people who have told you “work smarter, not harder,” and you’re like “what the heck does it mean to work smarter?!”

I mean, the words all make sense. I understand the word “work” and I understand the word “smarter”, but nobody ever really broke it down for me in concrete ways how to do it.

Well, you’re welcome.

Here are four ways you can work smarter and increase productivity:

  • 90
  • 20
  • 7-ish
  • 4.6

Ninety

As it turns out, our body works best in 90 minute cycles. Even when you’re sleeping, your body acts in consecutive 90 minute cycles, which enhances rest and recovery. Similarly, an awake body works in 90 minute cycles of enhanced focus and productivity with 20 minute troughs intended for recovery.

The bottom line?

In order to increase productivity, you should never work for more than 90 minutes at a time.

You don’t have to believe me, believe all the studies that prove it. Read this. Or this. Or just look at this simple chart.

increase productivity

Twenty

For most people, the mind begins to feel sluggish sometime in the mid-afternoon. Motivation lags. Decision-making becomes more difficult. And you just. want. to. take. a. nap.

If you were paying attention to the previous number above, you’ll realize that the body needs 20 minutes of recovery between cycles. If you continually ignore these recovery periods, each successive peak will be lower and less effective than the previous. And that, my friend, is what leads to afternoon burn-out.

Recovery is not sitting around reading something else on your computer. Recovery is either a short nap or light exercise.

Here’s the ultimate hack to increase productivity in the afternoons:

20 minutes of light exercise during the mid-day timeframe stimulates the brain to such an extent that it reenergizes the body and revives those peaks for the rest of the day.

Look, I even have a picture for you of a sitting brain vs one after a 20 minute walk. Guess which one is more alert.