(Updated 22-Aug-20 with lockdown inputs)
The lockdown sucks!
And the number it’s done on your productivity is no joke!
Days blur one into the other with no demarcations and life seems devoid of any joys or highs! You don’t feel like working and yet, all there is…is work! House work, office work, everything is just another kind of work. And all of it seems like an unsurmountable task and all you can think of is, ‘I don’t want to do this!’
Well, the good news is that this is fixable! There are proven ways to hack your productivity. To make sure that work gets done and with a minimum of effort. And the secret (that’s not so secret) is that you have to first hack your mood!
It’s a known fact that you are more productive when you’re in a good mood. Studies have shown that you tend to work faster, achieve more and that the quality of your work is higher too. And the second piece of good news is that no matter how bad your mood is, there is always a way to improve it AND hack your productivity, all at the same time.
In fact, there are five ways.
Not only are these hacks scientifically proven but each of these is tried and tested by me, yours truly. So yes, you do have someone to blame if these don’t work out.
1. Have a nature bath
The Japanese have a fancy name for it – forest bath – but finding a forest in Mumbai or any of our indian urban cities is akin to searching for the holy grail. Especially when travel is a distant dream this lockdown. So, I’m revising it to a nature bath.
If you live in a society or complex, head down to the garden (mask on) or if you have a park nearby, that works too. Just find the sunniest, grassiest or most wooded spot in your vicinity & take a quick device-free 10 minute time-out to improve your mood.
Look around, notice the plants and the flowers. Listen to the birds. Even in the urban jungle, life thrives. Feel the wind on your face. Be present in that moment, wholly. Just be.
Strangely enough, there is something about being outside and amidst nature that lends perspective to our daily stressors. Perhaps it harks back to the simpler times of our childhood? I don’t know why it works but it just does. There is something about the sight and sound of greenery that instantly calms our minds and reminds us that our work and the stress it brings is just a very small part of our day.
I generally come back home after this kind of time-out, feeling more relaxed and am able to dive back into the madness with the right amount of perspective. Try it.
2. Listen to your favourite upbeat music track
Being an organisation freak, I have recently taken to creating mood-based playlists on my Apple Music app. I make it a point to listen to new tracks suggested by the app while putting away dishes or vacuuming and add in the tracks that appeal to me into the right playlists.
And then, whenever I am down and stressed, I simply tune into the crazy upbeat workout playlist that I have on my phone. You must try it. There is NO WAY you won’t feel better, almost instantly!
Another angle to hacking your productivity is to deepen your concentration with music. This may sound contradictory but when I was younger, I used to study best to the accompaniment of blaring music, as did a lot of my friends. A habit that caused my worried mother, no end of consternation. She was sure I was goofing off, not studying. But it sure did work. And I have used this hack, well into my adulthood.
At work, I still plug in my headphones, block out the ambient noise and dive in deep. I am RIGHT NOW, plugged in and listening to music as I write this. It creates your own little self-contained world and you are able to control the mood and soundtrack of that little space in your head. Simply magical!
I also read a recent study that found that (among other things) music can be used as a way to change your mood. So start with the track that most reflects your mood and pick the next track which is a shade away from your current mood and heading in the direction of the mood that you want to be in. And sure enough, over the space of a few tracks, you will find yourself in a brand new mood.
Apparently, it is possible to engineer your mood if you know how. Who knew? Now you do.
3. Have a nap
I’m sure you’ve probably read about power naps and their effect on productivity, but I think it bears repeating! There is a complex neurological process that is akin to clearing house that happens when you take a short nap during a busy day.
You wake up to find your mind cleared of all the cobwebs that made it all musty and dusty and prevented clear thinking. The trick, I have found, is to keep the nap short and not be found in a corner of your workplace with your mouth open and eyes closed. The reverse is generally appreciated 🙂
I personally like being horizontal during my power naps, but I make sure that I don’t get too comfortable. Otherwise the power nap turns into a full-fledged siesta. And that is super-easy to succumb to in the lockdown, while working from home. And I don’t think your boss would appreciate your sleeping through your next meeting reminder!
4. Call your parents
This one has benefits other than just improving productivity. It also earns you major brownie points if done during the weekday. But studies have shown, that especially for women, connecting with our parents can bring down our stress level and calm our blood pressure.
I can identify. There is something about a small moment of connection with the people who truly care about your wellbeing during this crazy pandemic that reminds you of what is truly important in these unprecedented times.
To wrap up, here are the productivity hacks for me but there may be others that are specific to you and energise them. Whichever they are, they will only work if you decide that you are not going to let the lethargy and anxiety in the environment get you down.
Work goes on, life goes on and we must too.
So if low productivity like spouses, have to be dealt with and cannot be wished away, then we might as well learn to hack them if we can! What say?