Productivity Studies

7 Strategies to Do More in Less Time, According to Science

One of the biggest causes of burnout is being overworked, so if you can manage to be more productive, that may give you more time to blow off steam. We've heard plenty of advice on how to do more in less time, but here are some tips to improve your productivity, backed by scientific research:

  • Take a web break: Don't think of catching up on celebrity news or watching kitty videos at work as slacking. In small doses, it can be good for your productivity. In fact, Japanese researchers found that looking at cute animals can lend workers more focus for their tasks.
  • Sleep well: Sleeping too little can cause job burnout and lower productivity. Get enough sleep to refresh yourself for the next day. But make sure you're getting quality sleep.
  • Work in 90-minute intervals: In a study, it was found that the best violinists practiced in 90-minute intervals with a break between each one. Start doing work in chunks of 90 minutes, and try to take a 15- to 20-minute break after each interval, preferably spending the time looking at cute animals.
  • Take a vacation: Going on vacation is good for your brain. In fact, the Families and Work Institute says vacation deprivation causes workers to make more mistakes and build anger and resentment against co-workers. Most vacationers see a boost in job performance after their trip, according to multiple studies.
  • Don't power through: Your willpower is an exhaustible supply, so don't force yourself to finish tasks if you don't have to. Take a break and do something else, then go back to it when you feel refreshed.
  • Turn off notifications: Don't let blinking icons and pop-ups disrupt your work flow. Turn off notifications and alerts for incoming emails, IMs, and more. Instead, schedule times throughout the day to check them.
  • Listen to music: Your favorite tunes can increase your productivity because listening to music helps release dopamine in the part of your brain that's related to rewards. Basically, it improves your mood, thereby putting you in a more positive mind-set when doing work. Research by Teresa Lesiuk, assistant professor at the University of Miami, found that workers who listened to music were more creative and finished their tasks in a shorter time compared to those who worked in silence.
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