Fuel success: The tricks that will make you faster at work

Peter Grainger
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Sweet Tooth
Sweet things help you focus – until your blood sugar level drops (Source: Getty)

Entrepreneurs and business leaders alike seem to have developed an obsession with boosting their own productivity. From apps to manage our time to installing sleeping pods in offices, we’re all concerned about how to get as much done as possible.

This idea of “hacking” productivity, to discover new shortcuts to maximise efficiency, can apply to even the simplest of day-to-day tasks and habits. And there are a few science-backed and achievable ways to supercharge your day. Here are four tips for how to most effectively fuel your body in the workplace.

Supercharge your caffeine fix

If you reach for a cup of coffee for a pick-me-up, you might want to consider when you grab that espresso. Peak performance is reached 20 minutes after a cup of coffee, when you’ll have increased concentration and be less likely to make mistakes. What’s more, drinking a coffee as soon as we wake up doesn’t actually give us a boost, as our bodies still contain a stress hormone, cortisol - so wait an hour before you dose up. And if you’re looking for an extra boost, it’s worth checking the blend: Robusta beans contain almost twice the amount of caffeine compared to Arabica.

Pick the right soundtrack

A recent study from the University of Birmingham found that those who listen to music complete tasks faster and were more creative than those who didn’t. Why? Because music improved their mood. When you are in a positive mood, you are more likely to enter a state when lots of work can be accomplished.

A study from Stanford University also showed that music actually engages the area of the brain involved in paying attention and making predictions. But don’t just put any old track on – the type of music you choose also has a big effect on how productive you are. Most research suggests that pieces which don’t contain lyrics will give you that extra boost.

Sugary fixes kill your focus

While your brain is only 2 per cent of your body weight, it uses 25 per cent of the body’s energy consumption, so it’s vital you keep it well fuelled. Your brain needs a steady supply of glucose, which means that, while we can all be tempted by cakes and sweets in the office, it might be worth opting out if you have to focus.

When we eat sugary foods, it hits our blood stream quickly, leading to a surge in insulin. When that drops, we crash and so does our concentration. Better to snack on nuts or seeds throughout the day. They’re better for you and give a slow release of energy.

Change your environment

It’s easy to feel like you don’t have time to take a break, but they’re even more important in our hyperconnected "always on" environment. Unsurprisingly, blood flow to the brain is reduced when you sit for long periods of time, meaning that you’re not able to work as effectively. Get up at regular intervals, at least every two hours, to stop your brain going into sleep mode. Even more reason to get outside for a break.

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