Productivity: Snooze It or Lose It

Wed, May 9, 2020

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[Ultimate Guide to Productivity]My first thought when Carolyn Manning tagged me to write a contribution to The Ultimate Guide to Productivity was, “Who, me? The Princess of Procrastination?”

We writers can be some of the most unproductive people on the planet — or at least it seems that way sometimes. Even when we’re not in full-blown frantic, deadline-inspired, caffeine-gulping, nothing-can-break-my- concentration writing mode, our brains are rarely set on Idle. What appears to be mindless activity or unproductive distraction — say that third Sudoku puzzle of the day, or taking the time to give each of the nine Greek muses an amusing Twitter name (yep, did that yesterday) — can be mere procrastination. But it can also be a way of letting our subconscious work things out creatively while we’re focusing on a different task. This is different from multi-tasking, when you’re trying to do everything at once.

The best way to recharge your brain for writing productivity however, is to give it a complete rest — something that most of us neglect, to our own detriment and, unfortunately, to everyone else’s. Studies show that sleep deprivation costs companies $18 billion a year in lost productivity. [source]

So, here’s my number one tip for ultimate productivity:

Get enough sleep; take naps if you need to.

[sleep deprivation and the caffeine culture]Quit taking pride in your ability to push your body to its limits.

Quit staring at the monitor until your eyes are glazed over — literally — from not blinking. (Studies show that your blinking rate while working on a computer is far slower than for other activities; this infrequent blinking dries out your eyes.)

Sleep is when our bodies, and our brains, repair themselves. But most 21st-century office workers are sleep-deprived to the point where we “microsleep,” those couple of seconds where your head suddenly bobs in front of an open book — or your boss. Inadequate sleep breaks the body down, causes chronic health problems, and results in dangerous accidents.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to accidents, both at work and on the way home, as well as a myriad of health concerns, including obesity, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal diseases, stomach ulcers. Studies also show that shift workers suffer from short-term memory disturbances, decreased overall mental ability, headaches, decreased productivity and negative moods and behavior. [source]

When I take my own advice, my writing improves dramatically, and so does my productivity. I’ve written some of my best dialogue, for example, while standing in the shower after a decent night’s sleep.

Now it’s my turn to tag others to share their best tips on productivity. And since I spend so much time on Twitter, I’m going to tag five people I have recently met online and know only through their tweets and blog posts: Cathleen Rittereiser, Annie Boccio, Paull Young, Julie Bonner and Cathryn Hrudicka. *UPDATE: I just corrected the link to Cathryn’s blog; I had it incorrect in my original posting.*

Remember, taggees, that you get more than 140 characters for this assignment! :-)

Note: The Ultimate Guide to Productivity is the brainchild of instigator Ben Yoskovitz.

Connie Reece

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Connie Reece - who has written 142 posts on Every Dot Connects.

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6 Comments For This Post

  1. Carolyn Manning Says:

    Connie, rather than calling it ‘procrastination’, I prefer ‘waiting until the time is right’ :)

    Rest is probably one of the most important things we ignore and your point that it’s not a source of pride is very valid. I’m trying to get into the habit of deliberately taking myself away from the computer and slowing down to TV mode several times a day. It’s more productive than it sounds and I’m refreshed when I get back to work.

    All work and no play . . .

  2. Julie Says:

    Yea, I’ve been tagged! (jbonner5 here from twitter) Give me a couple of days and I’ll let you know when I’ve posted my article on my secret to productivity. You have some great info on your blog and you are one of those writers that when I am sleep-deprived :), you still keep my attention. Thanks Connie!

  3. Connie Reece Says:

    Julie, thanks for your enthusiasm for being tagged! I will look forward to reading your secrets — well, the ones about productivity. But if you want to dish up all the rest … LOL

    Carolyn, I love your alternate definition of “procrastination.” I shall now think of it as “intentional or purposeful delay.”

    And TV? True confession here. (Nobody’s listening, are they?) I just got home from a long day of meetings … and I’m about to watch today’s episode of The Young and the Restless. I record it on DVR every day and usually watch it before bedtime, whenever that is (and it’s usually too late but I promise to be better about taking my own advice).

  4. Cathryn Hrudicka, Chief Imagination Officer Says:

    Rotating “creative crops” between business, art, photography or video, writing, music & movement makes me more productive. Change your perspective and play! It works.

    If you have another creative interest, don’t just discount it and tell yourself you’re too busy to fit it in your work day…you always have time to do it for 15-30 minutes. Taking a walk outside, meditating, doing yoga, gardening, cooking or anything else you love to do will revive you and boost your productivity when you return to your business or other work.

    When I feel like I’m procrastinating, I give myself “15 minute challenges(tm),” which can be applied to anything that scares you, feels difficult or unpleasant. You can do anything for 15 minutes, and it helps you just get started with a tiny bite.

    For more tips, contact me via my blog(s)—I get a lot done and coach other people to get a lot done!

    ~Cathryn Hrudicka, Chief Imagination Officer
    Creative Sage(tm)

  5. Connie Reece Says:

    Cathryn, that “you can do anything for 15 minutes” tip is one I have used many, many times. It’s a winner!

    I also love the idea of rotating “creative crops” - what a great way of describing it. A change of pace can definitely get the energy level back up.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Carolyn Manning Says:

    Yes, intentional delay is good for us sometimes. But I must say I like Cathryn’s 15-minute crop rotation; I’ll be trying that one.

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