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6 Out-of-the-Box Ways to Amp Up Your Productivity

written by: •edited by: Carly Stockwell•updated: 6/21/2016

As the saying goes "work smarter, not harder". Learn to increase your productivity and improve your life as well. Here are six methods of ramping up your productivity you may not have thought of yet!

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    The more things we try to check off our to-do list, the longer it seems to take to get everything done!

    So how did we get there? Time is running (or has already ran) out and we have worked so hard all day but seemed to have got nothing done.

    Instead of looking at how many items or tasks we should be doing, we should be looking at being productive while doing the required tasks. Being more productive means getting more done in less time, and improving our life in general. Here are six ways you can improve your productivity that you haven't thought of yet!

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    1. Stop Multitasking

    We may think that we are getting a lot done by multitasking and sometimes it makes sense (such as catching up on the news while eating breakfast), but at what price?

    Finishing a job is more important than doing many things at once. When we try to multitask what we are really doing is switching from task to task quickly with our focus on one thing for only a few seconds. It means we are not only doing things worse, we aren’t even finishing them.

    When you switch a task you have to refocus, and do a lot of other little brain calculations just to get up and running. Far better to use this mental energy to just finish what you were doing.

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    2. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

    2. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument 

    The complex nature of learning to play a musical instrument is a great work out for your brain. In fact a musician's brain is wired slightly differently and they have been shown to be more patient and motivated. They also have a tendency to be better with memorizing tasks and lists and choosing how to prioritize them.

    These and other mental acrobatics that musicians perform develop many areas of the brain that are central to getting things done and getting them done on time. Learning a musical instrument can easily be done from the comfort of your own home with online tutorials abounding online. (For example, you can teach yourself guitar here.)

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    3. Take a Nap

    3. Take a Nap 

    Once thought the preserve of the self-indulgent or even worse, laziness. A nap room is now part of every self-respecting cutting edge tech business headquarters. These businesses don’t do things to be less productive, so you can be sure it has its benefits.

    It has do be done properly though, thirty minutes in the afternoon in a dark quiet space has been shown to increase alertness and produce a happy hard worker. Sleeping in the storeroom because you were out late last night is not (however good it feels) a good way to increase productivity.

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    4. Use Your Work Hours Wisely

    Our internal body clock lets us know when to do certain things at certain times and it does a good job too. If we didn’t know when to go to sleep how would we know when to end the next Netflix binge session?

    It is a little like that with productivity there are just some times in the day to do things better. In the afternoon we subconsciously know that the day is coming to an end and this is not the time to start a brainstorming session.

    Send you emails in the morning, more chance of a reply too, make decisions first thing and start your largest tasks after that.

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    5. Get More Natural Light

    Light is color and color has a tremendous effect on our emotions, which in turn affect our productivity. From a dark red jazz bar to a warm golden sunrise, the lighting of our surroundings has a huge effect on what we want to do. And maybe more importantly, how much of it we will actually get done.

    Cooler light is best for offices; a blue tinge can even increase vitality and alertness. But there is no substitute for the real thing so get as much sunlight as possible throughout the day you will look healthier and work harder as well.

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    6. Get Some Exercise

    6. Get Some Exercise 

    You hear many stories of those super successful types running, swimming and jogging before the rest of us are even up. They will annoyingly throw in a triathlon at the weekend too. How do they do it?

    Well, it’s more why they do it, exercise has so many health benefits they are difficult to list, but when it comes to productivity there are a few habits that are more effective than the good habit that is exercise.

    You will be more alert and focused, you will have increased energy levels and brain function is greatly increased with nearly any physical activity.

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    Productivity in a Nutshell

    Work harder, not smarter. It’s an old adage but it’s been around for a while for good reason.

    So take a deep breath the next time you look at your ever growing to do list. Try to change how you approach your work not merely how much time and energy you spend on it.

    About the Author: Meredith spreads the word about the benefits of learning musical instruments (no matter how young or old you are!) through writing and assisting with the content management team over at