1. train your brain
"I like the common comparison of the brain to a muscle you can pump up," says cognitive neuroscientist Sahar Yousef. - It gives you a sense of being at the helm yourself. It inspires you to become the designer of your own brain. This is possible because of neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to change over the course of a lifetime as a result of different factors: our actions, experiences, and environment.
For example, we can train our attention through meditation and exercise. And thanks to this, we can then direct it in the right direction and stay focused longer. Treat such training like going to the gym: the more often you exercise, the more your brain pumps up.
2. Be aware of your internal rhythms.
Some people are comfortable getting up at dawn and doing important things in the first half of the day, while others, on the contrary, only rock out during the day and do major tasks in the evening. Determine at what time of day your brain functions best, and take that into account when you plan your work.
To understand your internal rhythms more accurately, keep a productivity diary for five working days.
Every two hours, write down how easy you worked and how you felt when you were energetic and when you were tired. After a few days you will notice when your productivity goes up and when it goes down.
3. give up multitasking
"A lot of people I know don't have a workday anymore," Yousef shares. - There are short stretches of time between meetings, calls and sorting out mail. 15 minutes there, 30 or 45 minutes here. And during these time slots, they do what they were actually hired for: creative, mentally strenuous work that is valuable to the company. This happens all too often.
We are constantly distracted from our main work by messages, notifications, requests and meetings.
To maintain the ability to think critically and concentrate, Yousef advises a change in strategy. Set aside a certain amount of time to check messages and respond to requests, and then no longer be distracted by them.
If possible, structure your day so that you have an hour or two of focused work without interruptions, and do less important things in between. Make an agreement with your colleagues that you can be reached by phone in case of something really urgent.
4. Create new associations
If you only manage to work normally in the kitchen in the morning or take breaks in the meeting room, it's as if you're telling your brain that your desk is the last place to do work tasks. As a result, the desk ceases to be associated with work and you become distracted behind it.
Think about the conditions in which you work best, and protect them from unnecessary associations.
"We have certain expectations of what actions and thoughts are associated with a particular place," Yousef explains. So if you're sitting at your desk and feel like distracting yourself (going on social media, looking something up), get up and do it somewhere else. This is especially important for those who work remotely. Designate an area in which you perform only work tasks, and do not do them in other parts of the apartment.
5. Take care of your brain
Thinking also depends on the physical condition of the brain, so don't forget to take care of it: drink enough water, eat enough and move regularly to keep the blood flowing to the brain. Don't rely on coffee and sweets for a quick burst of energy. Snack on something healthy throughout the day, then there will be no sudden drops in productivity. And be sure to get enough sleep.