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Improving Your Productivity At Work

Updated on March 22, 2010

Many things affect how productive you are at work. These range from your level of motivation and interest in the job, to your general health.

Your health and work

Both your physical and mental health affects how productive you are at work. Good health benefits your productivity1. Make sure you are looking after all areas of your health & well-being.

Don't be a sleepyhead

Work out how much sleep you need and make sure you get it.
Being tired is detrimental to your concentration, memory, and mental alertness. Fatigue has contributed to a number of fatal accidents, such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Sleepiness is also thought to cause up to 33% of car accidents2.

Getting enough sleep will help improve your productivity, as you will be more alert and have the capacity to do more. Work out how much sleep you need so you don't wake up tired. Most people need about 7-8 hours sleep a night. Find out your ideal amount of sleep by varying the time you go to bed and recording how you feel.

Stay calm

Learn how to manage your stress levels.
Some pressure is needed to motivate you into working; this is what is known as "good stress." However, too much stress can have effects on both your mental and physical health. A high level of pressure for a limited period of time can be highly motivating. However, if your stress is prolonged make sure you have some good stress management techniques.

Good time management is critical for improving productivity and reducing stress. Work out exactly what you need to do and prioritize. If you can see clearly what you are going to do in what order, it will help your stress levels and your productivity.

Stop being a fast-food junkie

Make sure you get all the nutrients you need.
A balanced diet is important for providing all the nutrients you need. Nutritional deficiencies can affect both your mental and physical health. One study in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed the dramatic effects of nutrition on behavior: it found that improving the nutritional intake of young men in prison reduced antisocial behavior, including incidents of violence3. While this is perhaps not relevant to you sitting at work, it does show the dramatic influence nutrients can have on brain function.

Make sure you are not short of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids by making sure you include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet, and make room for nuts, seeds and oily fish.

However busy you are, make sure you eat breakfast. It will set you up for the whole day. Try and have something high in fiber, such as cereal or toast, and wash it down with a glass of fruit juice. It will help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the morning, providing energy for your brain and body.

Don't be a couch potato

Do some exercise.
Being physically active will keep you in shape, making you less prone to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. Physical activity can also be helpful in reducing stress and helping you sleep better.

Physical activity will also give you more energy, improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Being productive

Taking control of all areas of your life is important to help you move ahead and become more productive. Remember that being productive doesn't necessarily mean working all the time. It means working efficiently and effectively. As well as working hard, try to maintain your work-life balance.


  1. Burton WN, Conti DJ, Chen C, Schultz AB and Edington DW. The role of health risk factors and disease on worker productivity. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 1999: 41; 863-877
  2. Pierce RJ. Driver sleepiness: occupational screening and the physician's role. Aust N Z J Med 1999; 29: 658-661
  3. Gesch CB, Hammond SM, Hampson SE, Eves A, and Crowder MJ. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behavior of young adult prisoners. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2002: 181; 22-28


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