Feeling drowsy at work? Not feeling as productive as usual? Many workers are experiencing these feelings around this time of year with daylights savings, changing seasons, etc. A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2011 found that 43% of Americans report that they seldom get a good night’s sleep during the work week. Losing that one hour during daylights savings time is that last step to making an already existing problem worse.
On top of daylights savings, we have the changing seasons and events such as staying up late to watch March Madness games can change our schedules and muddle our internal clocks. Bringing this lack of focus to your job can lead to a plateau of work and “cyber-loafing,” defined in a study published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, as when one browses the internet for topics unrelated to their work. Here are a few tips for how to stay focused and get back on track for your business.
- Follow a schedule: Waking up and going to bed around the same time everyday will drastically help with focus and alertness because it regulates your internal clock. It also helps to maintain this schedule as closely as possible during the weekends so that Monday morning doesn’t take a toll on your mind and body. When your schedule has been thrown off, it is helpful to get back on track in increments. For example, you can set your alarm 15 minutes ahead and increase by day to help your body adjust to the new schedule.
- Avoid caffeine right before you go to sleep: Having a cup of coffee too close to when you plan to go to sleep will just keep you awake, tossing and turning. Your body needs time to relax and cool down to ensure a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid bright lights right before you go to sleep: This goes hand in hand with avoiding caffeine because it leads to overstimulation of the body. Diming your lights and avoiding television and computers will help your eyes and mind power down before you ready to go to sleep. This will also help you maintain the schedule you have set for yourself.
- Shape up your diet: What and when you eat has a large effect on one’s focus. Eating breakfast is extremely important because it gives your body the energy boost it needs to start the day. Also, having food containing protein and complex-carbohydrates will give you longer lasting energy in comparison with foods loaded with sugar. As far as the rest of the day is concerned, eating snacks and healthy meals will keep your energy level up and keep you alert. Having healthy lunches is much better than consuming fast food that can lead to mid-day drowsiness.
- Take a break: Sometimes when your brain hits a wall the best thing to do is stop and recharge. A short simple break such as getting up and walking around the office is great if you can’t leave the desk for too long. This will help your mind refocus so you can continue working with efficiency.