PROJECT MAKEOVER

Find out how ra­dio dee­jay Char­maine Yee turned her con­fi­dence and health around.

Shape (Singapore) - - Content -

We all have hid­den pock­ets of time in our days, re­search shows. The key to tak­ing ad­van­tage of them: be­ing ex­tra pro­duc­tive, but in a way that’s smart, not stress-in­duc­ing. And these four new ground­break­ing tech­niques will help you do just that – get­ting your must-dos (work, chores and er­rands) done faster, so you have plenty of time for your want-tos (fam­ily, friends and ex­er­cise).

REWIND YOUR CLOCK

“Your cells con­tain spe­cial ‘clock genes’, which op­er­ate on a loop, prim­ing your body to do dif­fer­ent things at dif­fer­ent times based on day-long cy­cles of light and dark,” ex­plains Suhas Kshir­sagar, an Ayurvedic physi­cian and the au­thor of Change Your

Sched­ule, Change Your Life. Sync up your habits to these genes, and you’ll op­er­ate super ef­fi­ciently.

One of the most pow­er­ful ways to do this is to sched­ule your work­outs be­tween 6am and 10am. “Lev­els of cor­ti­sol, a stim­u­lat­ing stress hor­mone, peak in this win­dow, so if you ex­er­cise then, you’ll feel more in­vig­o­rated af­ter­wards,” Suhas says. “Plus, re­search shows you’ll dou­ble or even triple your cog­ni­tive per for­mance for the rest of the day.”

To fur­ther boost your pro­duc­tiv­ity, eat your largest meal at lunch. By 10am, your di­ges­tive sys­tem is op­er­at­ing at full ca­pac­ity, Suhas says. For the next four hours, your body is primed to turn a sub­stan­tial, bal­anced meal into en­ergy, keep­ing you fu­elled through the af­ter­noon.

CRE­ATE MORE WHITE SPACE

Jot­ting down ev­ery er­rand, play date and phone call in your cal­en­dar might seem like a smart or­gan­i­sa­tional move, but it can make you less pro­duc­tive, says Laura Van­derkam, au­thor of the new book Off

the Clock. Keep­ing lots of empty blocks of time on your cal­en­dar is what’s truly es­sen­tial to get­ting things done. Free time feels shorter when it comes be­fore a task you’ve logged, re­ports the Jour­nal of

Con­sumer Re­search. So if you have an hour be­fore you need to leave for, say, school pickup, you be­have as though you have only 30 to 45 min­utes of us­able time.

Feeling rushed is a pro­duc­tiv­ity killer. “If too much of your day is blocked out, you might say no to some­thing that would have been a great use of your time,” Laura says.

To cre­ate more white space, stop sched­ul­ing to-dos that don’t need to be done at a spe­cific hour, like go­ing to the gro­cery store. Laura also sug­gests cal­en­dar triage. “Once a week, look at what’s planned for the week ahead,” she says. “What should be can­celled? What can be cut short? Give your­self more breath­ing room.”

PASS THE ONE-MINUTE MARK

Re­search shows that we work on a task for an av­er­age of �just 40 sec­onds be­fore we be­come dis­tracted, says Chris Bai­ley, au­thor of Hyper­fo­cus. “Our brains are typ­i­cally re­sis­tant to start­ing some­thing new, es­pe­cially if the job is dif­fi­cult or bor­ing,” he says. “But once we do it for a few min­utes, our con­cen­tra­tion kicks in.” One way to get over the ini­tial hump: If you don’t feel like work­ing on some­thing for an hour straight, don’t force it. Al­lot 10 to 15 min­utes to the task, and go from there. “Chances are, once you pass the one-minute mark, you’ll keep work­ing for longer,” Chris says.

GIVE YOUR­SELF AN OUT

“Breaks are cru­cial to be­ing pro­duc­tive,” says Chris. The trou­ble is, we tend to think that what we do dur­ing our down­time will be more restora­tive than it is. Take scrolling through In­sta­gram, for ex­am­ple. Be­ing the au­di­ence to other peo­ple’s lives doesn’t al­ways feel re­lax­ing in the end. Chris says the best breaks have three key char­ac­ter­is­tics: you can do them with­out much fo­cus, they’re things you truly en­joy, and they’re ac­tiv­i­ties you don’t have to ex­er­cise con­trol over. “Think about things that leave you feeling fully recharged, such as tak­ing a walk out­side, do­ing a favourite hobby, or play­ing a game with your child,” he sug­gests. De­vot­ing 15 or 30 min­utes to one of these re­ju­ve­nat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties ev­ery few hours will keep your men­tal abil­i­ties fresh and your pro­duc­tiv­ity high.

Keep­ing empty blocks of time on your cal­en­dar is key to get­ting things done.

THINK AGAIN The tips that best hone con­cen­tra­tion aren’t what you’d ex­pect.

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