Improved productivity seems to the holy grail of our age. Governments, businesses and even Mike in Finance seem to be constantly talking about how we can all become more efficient.
A quick scroll through the app store will turn up an almost unlimited choice of different time saving apps that promise to streamline your day. Some of them may indeed be very useful but one thing is for certain, they are not the most sensible life hack you make today if improved productivity is your ultimate goal.
No, the best thing you can do for your productivity doesn’t require a phone, it doesn’t require you to attend any workshops and it doesn’t even require you to spend any money.
So what is the best thing you can do for your productivity? Well, that’s simple. Stay in bed longer and get more sleep.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but improving your bedtime routine and lying unconscious in bed can truly mean you get more done.
I know you don’t believe me – yet! But read on below and I’ll explain to you exactly why choosing to sleep more is the best decision you can make today.
Sleep improves accuracy
Making mistakes is one of the most frequent culprits when it comes to working efficiently.
I’ll hazard a bet that there have been times when you’ve finished a report, printed it out, bound it and given it a nice laminated cover only to find you’ve spelt your own freaking name wrong and have to start again. Numpty!
Or there will be other occasions when you’ve sat waiting for a reply to an email only to realise you send it to the wrong address. Dumbo!
Mistakes like this are inevitable, even the most efficient workplace ninja makes them from time to time. Sleep however, or to be more precise a lack of sleep, leads to a drop in cognitive performance and with this comes a marked increase in the frequency and scale of the mistakes we make.
Better sleep means a faster mind and a sharper eye. If you want to minimize the amount of silly mistakes you make during the course of the day then increase the amount of time you spend in bed.
For upto date advice on how to get the most out of your time in bed head over to the “Sleep Advisor” for expert hints and tips.
Sleep improves decision making
No matter what job you do, whether its importing pineapples from China or designing logos for startups, one thing is certain, each and every day you’re going to have to make choices. These may be big or small, critical or seemingly unimportant. When we sleep badly our ability to make decisions is severely impaired.
Don’t believe me, just think to the last time you were hungover and it took you 45 minutes to decide which dish to order from the takeaway!
When faced with choice the tired mind is unable to properly map out all the possible consequences. Instead a tired mind will more often than not take whichever option seems easiest, which as we all know is not necessarily the best.
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “let’s sleep on it”. This is when two parties take a day to think about an important decision before coming back to the table with fresh eyes in the morning. There’s wisdom in those words. Heed them.
Sleep improves creativity
Thanks to vast improvements in the available medical technology, in particular fMRI brain scanners, neuroscience now knows more than ever about the link between sleep and one of the most ephemeral and sought after human qualities – creativity.
It transpires that counter to the popularly-held notion of creative geniuses staying up late and needing little sleep, the opposite is in fact true. The human brain is more creative when it has had a good night’s sleep.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean if you get a good night’s sleep tonight you will crack out your very own Picasso-standard painting in the morning. It might, but don’t hold your breath.
No, it does however mean a lot if you’re looking to become more productive. A well-rested and therefore more creative brain is a damn-sight better at problem solving and lateral thinking than a tired one. Two attributes which are incredibly important in succeeding in whatever line of work you find yourself in.
So there you go, three ways in which sleep helps to sharpen your mind, improve your performance and with it your productivity.
It doesn’t matter what role you have, whether you’re a CEO of a massive corporation, a cog in the machine or self-employed one-person empire, more sleep is going to make you better at whatever it is you’re doing.
Think of a a well-rested brain as like a new car, everything just runs more smoothly.
This Article is a guest contribution from Sarah Cummings.