7 Science-Backed Tips To Be More Productive

Whether you work at a job or work at a hobby or work at an avocation, if you are like me you want to be productive. You want to get more done, with less effort, and enjoy it as much as possible.

Maybe not everyone cares about this as much as I do. For me, one of the joys in life is feeling like I have accomplished something worthwhile and useful. And if I can feel energized before, during, and after so much the better.

There’s no dearth of advice about how to be more productive, but recently I set out to find out what I could about the science of productivity. I ended up creating an online video course based on what I learned. Here’s a summary of the science of productivity. See how many of these you currently use:

  1. Work with your own rhythms. We all have our own cycles of work and rest. Whether it is a daily circadian rhythm or a week rhythm or even months long rhythm, observe your own rhythms of when you are at a high work energy and when you are in “rest” mode. Fighting your own rhythm won’t make you more productive.
  2. Break tasks up into smaller steps. When you accomplish a task your brain chemicals change. Accomplishing a step is like a small reward AND it stimulates you to want to start the next task. If you are working on one big long task it takes a long time to accomplish something. If you partition the big task into smaller tasks then you have lots of accomplishments.
  3. Pay attention to the room and furnishings. Set up a place to work that is only where you work. If you have a comfortable and efficient space to work in, and if the only thing you do when you are in that space is your wonderful productive work, then your body and your brain form a habit. Everytime you walk into the “work” space your brain automatically goes into productive work mode.
  4. MInimize multi-tasking. The estimate is that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity switching from one task to another, which is what happens a lot of the time when you are multi-tasking.
  5. Minimize alerts. To make multi-tasking less tempting, turn off automatic alerts and notifications on your computer, laptop, and phone.
  6. Sleep.  The research shows that being sleep deprived makes you less efficient in  your work. Try getting  7-8 hours a night. Napping for 20 minutes during the day can also boost your productivity.
  7. Work with a team. There is a lot of research, from Allport’s study in the 1920s up to research in the present day , that shows that when people work in a team they are more productive and they enjoy the work more. Sometimes working alone can be a good thing, but don’t forget the power of the team.

So there’s seven ideas on productivity that are backed up by science. What do you think?

If you want to learn more, check out the online video course: The Science of Productivity. 

The Intersection of Multitasking, Flow State and Mindfulness on the Human Tech Podcast


Logo for HumanTech podcast
You’ve probably heard (maybe too many times) how multitasking is not a good thing for your productivity. In this episode of Human Tech we share the myths and truths of multitasking and also explore the relationship between multitasking, the flow state, and mindfulness.

In the episode we talk about a video where you can test out your multitasking abilities. Here’s the video:

We also mention our latest online video course, The Science of Productivity if you want to check that out.

Human Tech is a podcast at the intersection of humans, brain science, and technology. Your hosts Guthrie and Dr. Susan Weinschenk explore how behavioral and brain science affects our technologies and how technologies affect our brains.

You can subscribe to the HumanTech podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, or where ever you listen to podcasts.