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6 Surprising Ways To Boost Productivity, Backed By Science
Are you stuck in an endless loop of procrastination? Have you been hitting a block and can’t seem to move past it?
Sometimes you can get a productivity boost in the most unexpected ways. Here are a few surprising science-backed productivity tips to boost your brainpower – featuring: doodles, pizza, and cute animals.
Don’t believe me? Keep reading!
According to a study in 2011, doodling is a fast, simple way to keep your brain active. Scribbling stuff on paper activates “default networks” in the brain that would otherwise make you snooze off.
In addition, doodling lights up areas of the brain you don’t normally use, which can help you analyze problems differently and find solutions from another perspective.
We often talk about how important it is to focus while working and escape distractions. And rightly so, since we live in the age of push notifications and flashing screens that take a toll on our concentration.
But what if I told you that letting your mind wander from time to time can improve your productivity?
According to research in the journal Psychological science, daydreaming triggers “creative incubation”. It activates connections in your brain that you wouldn’t normally use. As a result, you’re more likely to get through the problem that got you stuck.
3) Taking a walk
Another way of engaging in creative thinking? Taking a walk.
Firstly, walking is a physical activity, and exercise improves our health and alertness. In addition, Stanford University researchers showed that walking indoor or outdoor triggers the brain’s ability to think creatively, while at the same time improves the person’s mood.
Here are a few famous thinkers who use walking to help their brainpower:
- Greek philosopher Aristotle who used to instruct his pupils while strolling;
- Apple CEO Steve Jobs who was known for his walking meetings;
- ..and British author Charles Dickes would walk up to 20 miles, day and/or night.
In 2016, a team of psychologists led by Dan Ariely ran an experiment at a semiconductor factory in Israel. The workers were divided into three groups and each of them was promised a different productivity prize: the first was promised a cash bonus, the second a compliment from the boss and the third a voucher for free pizza.
Apparently, those who were given pizza were more productive by 6.7%! The research conclusion: pizza makes you more productive. It's science.
(Yes, it does sound like a bit of a stretch, but please don’t ruin this for us)
Some people find working with music distracting and annoying. But this may happen because they’re not choosing the right music for the right task. In fact, Teresa Liusuk, professor of music education at the University of Miami, found that listening to music while working can make you more productive.
Music improves people’s moods, starting a chain reaction of positive effects on your productivity.
But the key is choosing your own music and adapting it to what work you’re doing and your level of expertise. Interestingly, the study found that listening to music while trying to learn something new wasn’t helpful at all (sorry, students!).
On the other hand, listening to a favorite tune while doing tasks you’re expert in can help you concentrate and get it done more quickly.
6) Baby animals
Researchers at Hiroshima University showed three groups a series of images, including cute baby animals, and then asked the participants to perform a precision task similar to the Operations game. The result? Those who saw the baby animals pictures were more successful in performing the task.
Because our brains are naturally programmed to be more alert when our nurturing instincts are stimulated.
So if you’re addicted to cute animal videos, good news! Watching them can make you productive – given that you don’t waste the entire day and eventually do something.
In all seriousness, hitting a block is never pleasant. It’s perfectly normal to lose motivation from time to time, because we’re humans and, by our own nature, flawed. With a little help, from science-backed hacks or otherwise, you can get back on track and find your most productive self.
Before we lose you to the cute videos section of Youtube, we’d love to hear what unusual or creative ways you use to keep productive, so make sure to let us know in the comments! If the tips above are a bit too out-of-the-box for you, check out this list of basic time management tips.