Productivity is a tricky thing.
Being productive means producing large amounts of something or achieving something of significance.
It's safe to say that many people want to be more productive.
But there are some hidden dangers when it comes to chasing productivity.
One of the dangers is that we're all really good at adding things to our lives. When we want to do something we simply add it to our to-do list.
Now when we accomplish the things on our list including the extra item we're more productive.
But the danger there is that adding more can diminish the quality of what you're doing. It can take away focus and energy from something else.
What might be taken away?
A common issue when chasing productivity is sleep.
Lack Of Sleep Epidemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of three people don't get enough sleep.
That number kind of shocked me. When you think that one in three people don't get enough sleep it's pretty daunting.
But the more I thought about it the more it seemed to make sense.
There are a number of reasons or excuses that people give for not getting enough sleep:
- Too busy
- Too much to think about
There are many more reasons. I'm sure I've used excuses in the past.
And one thing that seems to have happened is the idea that skipping sleep is a point of pride. I don't know when that happened. Maybe it's always been around, but it seems like saying that you live on five hours of sleep each night is a point of pride.
The Downsides Of Not Sleeping
We know there are downsides to not getting enough sleep.
Some reported side effects of not sleeping include:
- Drowsiness, Inability To Concentrate
- Mood swings
- And more...
And those are just the noticeable things.
Losing sleep can lead to some pretty serious health issues:
And as you can imagine, all this leads to loss of productivity. In fact, the loss of sleep leads to the loss of 1.2 billion working days each year in the United States.
I think that's about 10 days per working person in the country.
So right there you're picking up 10 days a year if you get more sleep. And that doesn't even get into the quality of work you're doing when you're well-rested versus sleep deprived.
Step 1. 8-10 Hours Per Night
The real first step to being more productive by getting more sleep is to commit to the importance of sleep.
If you're filling your days with too many tasks and you feel like you just don't have time for sleep then you're always going to be behind.
Sleep needs to be a higher priority in your life.
If you need to think about sleep as a way to improve the really important things in your life. More sleep means better time spent with family. Instead of dosing off during game night you'll be more engaged. And the same is true with your work. The more rested you are the better work you'll do.
Start by committing to 8-10 hours per night.
You'll have to probably cut something out of your life, but take a minute and think about what you do with the current 24 hours that you have.
Odds are good you can find extra time by cutting out TV. Maybe you can work remotely and cut out your commute.
But you might have to cut out some work tasks that aren't really important or maybe cut down from 3 hobbies to 1 hobby.
Step 2. Turn Down The Temperature
This is different for everyone. You don't want to be shivering in bed, but it's important for the temperature to not be too hot in your bedroom.
We're usually programmed to sleep at temperatures that are below 70 degrees.
Step 3. Turn Off Electronics
Do you go to sleep with your phone by your side?
Maybe you have a TV in your bedroom that is on right up until the point when you go to bed.
We've all been guilty of it so don't feel bad. The phone thing has almost become part of life. We can't be far away from it.
But electronics and light negatively impact sleep.
If you want to get to bed earlier each night you need to shut off all the light and all the electronics in your room.
It might also mean keeping your bedroom entirely free of anything except a comfortable bed. Any distractions can interfere with a good night's sleep.
Step 4. Mentally End Each Day, Journal
Busy minds are common when it comes to lack of sleep. It seems that it can relate to many things including anxiety, worry and more.
Frustratingly enough, those are also side effects of not getting enough sleep. Talk about a vicious cycle!
Something that has proven to work really well for busy minds is to keep a journal or a gratitude journal before bedtime.
If we look hard enough we can find a number of bad things with our lives.
But the same is true for looking at the positives. We make a decision to look at life however we want. If we look for bad things, we'll worry.
But if we look for and appreciate the good things, we're more likely to quiet our minds and get better sleep.
Journaling can also be a way for you to mentally end the day. You can think to yourself that you've accomplished all you can for the day. You can even plan on what you'll do tomorrow. This allows your brain to shut down for the day because you've done all you can.
Step 5. Think Long-Term
How often do you sit down and think about what you're going to do for the next five years, year, six months?
It's common to have dreams, but dreams can be dangerous if not handled properly. Without a plan, your dreams probably won't come true. And with each passing day we start feeling more pressure and more pressure to achieve our dreams even though we're not really doing anything to accomplish them.
This adds another big worry to your brain and it can lead to poor sleep.
Think about what you want to achieve in your life. Look at others that have achieved it. Look at how long it took them. Work backwards to see what they did each month or each day to achieve those goals.
When you break your dreams down into plans you can better accept that you've done everything you can today and it allows you to shut down your brain because you have a plan in place for tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
More Sleep = More Production.
If you're looking to improve your productivity and really the quality of your work and life then you need to get more sleep.
It starts with the simple, but sometimes difficult step of accepting that more sleep is a good thing. It's not something to boast about when you say that you don't get enough sleep. You know it and so does everyone else.
You want to be the person that can say they get 10 hours of sleep while still accomplishing great things in life.