18 Sep Keep that summer energy going! Here’re a few tips for an efficient and trouble-free day at work.
It’s that time of the year again, back to surfing on digital waves and leaving the ocean behind. Now to make sure you keep those sea, sand and sun vibes going, it is essential to quickly set up some good habits that will help you keep that brain chilling.
So here are 8 back-to-work tips…
1.Make sure you get good sleep and give yourself time to wake up before kicking off for the day. Morning rituals are a first step in setting up your own pace. The brain likes automation, so if you don’t have a morning routine yet, now is a good time to get one going. Wake up at the same time every morning and you’ll quickly notice as days go by that it becomes easy, your body will even end up waking up by itself. Once you’re up, stimulate your body with some stretching exercises. After that, take a moment to picture what your day is going to look like, and then drink a large glass of water. Have some breakfast in a peaceful environment – remember that it’s the most important meal of the day! And when you’re finally ready to head off to work, that’s when the day begins.
2.Once you’re at work, don’t check your emails first thing. Don’t become a digital slave. If you open your emails as soon as you get to work, you’re taking the risk of spotting that one email that’s going to bother you the whole day, even though you had planned to work on a completely different matter, that’s not a good start to your day. Your brain likes getting worked-up on negative information. This cognitive bias (ultra-sensitivity to negative stimulation) is relevant in “real life” as it enables us to react swiftly in dangerous situations, but it’s quite counter-productive in a professional context! So don’t head straight into that one and avoid letting emails ruin your day at the very beginning of it!
3.Manage your agenda. Set your top priorities for the day. This will help you get mentally prepared for each task and allow you to fight back whenever you get tempted to switch to another one without having finished the task you’re dealing with. This will save up mental resource, because even though our brain loves switching from one thing to another, it takes a lot of energy to focus back on a task that has been interrupted. This is even harder if the activities have nothing to do with one another. Keep the distractions away, either by isolating yourself in another room or with a pair of headphones and some music that will help you concentrate.
4.Cut out the emails and phone calls during set periods of time, this will allow you to focus on what you’re doing without being interrupted. Even though it’s likely you’re not constantly answering the phone all day! But still, begin with 20-minute slots that you can then extend to 45 minutes if your work environment allows you to. Bear in mind that disrupted tasks (due to phone calls, emails, colleagues or yourself) take 30% extra time and energy to be performed.
5.Build a routine wherever you can. Just like your mornings, you can set up rituals and routines throughout your workday, especially when it comes to processing recurring information. This will help your brain automate mental and physical tasks and get them done at low cognitive cost. You’ll avoid any overload of useless or trivial information and you’ll be able to structure your work more easily and get less distracted. Also, your brain will be less tempted to get caught in the little details… which it loves doing! Once you’ve set your priorities, give yourself an ambitious deadline to get them done. It is sometimes more difficult to tap efficiently in our resources when we have too much time on our hands!
6.Give yourself proper breaks to let your brain rest! Not smartphones or social media breaks, not chit-chat with colleagues. These kind of pauses aren’t real breaks for your brain, and even though they can be pleasant and useful, they require heavy attentional resources that need to be rationed throughout the day! The real pauses that actually refresh and rest your brain are the ones where you think about nothing and you just let your mind wander. Look outside the window, allow your mind to go wherever it wants, without trying to control what’s going on. You can also just go for a walk. If you’re not quite sure about how to do this, pick one of our short story break tracks and daydream!
7.Delay and spread your rewards throughout the day. Take control over your immediate reward circuit that tends to push us to pick easy, short or fun things to do. Although these are entertaining and gratifying, they often pull us away from healthy concentration conditions! By treating yourself to spaced out rewards like a leasure break or getting up and about… you’re training your brain to resist immediate temptation and slowly extend your concentration span. All of this, to the benefit of your efficiency and thus, your personal satisfaction.
8.Set up nighttime routines. When your day is over, don’t rush your bedtime prepping, you need to get your own good sleeping conditions together. Again, you might need to set up an evening pattern that will help your brain calm down using several mechanisms as you reach your bedtime. Your routine should include easily identifiable sequences (putting your pajamas on, brushing your teeth, spending some time in an armchair to relax after a day at work…) that will act like triggers leading you to the first stages of sleep. Your bed and bedroom must be associated as much as possible with sleep! And above all, no screens before bed!
In the My Mental Energy Pro® app, you’ll find audios specially put together to help you start off your days and prep your nights in good conditions.
- A meditation session to begin your day, open up, prepare and visualize everything you’re going to be up to
- A meditation session to cool down at the end of the day, go over everything you’ve accomplished and get ready to sleep
- A range of concentration music tracks to pop those headphones on and focus on what you’re doing
- An article by our publishing partner Business Digest about well-being at work.
Article written by Gaël Allain et Charlotte Toso, respectively Scientific Director et Engineer in Cognitive Sciences in My Mental Energy Pro.