The Single Most Important Productivity Tip

Forget about making lists, processing email, and setting goals because I want to share with you the single most important idea to increase your productivity.

Get more sleep.

That’s it.

The National Sleep Foundation says most adults should get between 7 to 9 hours each night. But in reality, the Center for Disease Control estimates that about one-third of Americans get less than six hours. That deficit takes its toll on your productivity as well as your health.

It’s challenging to do your best work when you are sleep-deprived. A 2007 study of American workers showed that about 38 percent said they were fatigued at work within the last two weeks.

When we don’t get enough sleep, our brain doesn’t work right. Neurons overload, and that impacts our thinking. One study showed that “Sleep duration (both short and long), insomnia, sleepiness, and snoring were all associated with decreased work productivity.”

Some employers are trying to help. For example, you can find “energy pods” at Google, where employees can catch a nap. Naps are also encouraged for sleepy workers at Cisco, Procter and Gamble, the Huffington Post, and Nike.

You might find some people brag that they can survive on 5 hours of sleep or less. It is pretty rare. Matthew Carter Ph.D. a sleep specialist at Williams College, is familiar with those who claim they need less to function, “In reality, most people need somewhere between six and eight hours,” Carter says. “A small percentage of people only need five hours, and another group of people are on the other side of the scale and can need nine to ten hours of sleep.”

If you struggle with getting a good nights sleep, consider these tips:

First, try to go to bed at the same time every day.

Stay away from nicotine and caffeine for a few hours before bedtime.

Make sure your room is dark and quiet. Most people sleep better in a cool room.

Don’t watch TV, play on your phone, or anything else that stimulates your brain when it should be shutting down.

A better alternative is to read a good book.

Others use a “white noise” machine to relax.

The latest idea is to use AMSR or “autonomous sensory meridian response.” People have produced thousands of videos featuring stimulating sounds that some say create a relaxing sensation with tingling in the scalp due to a specific stimulus.  Does it work?  Researchers are studying it. So far, they recognize that areas of the brain that light up when someone experiences tingles are very similar to the areas activated when someone is being groomed, cared for, or affectionately interacting with their partner,

If you struggle with sleep, try a number of these techniques, seek the advice of a doctor who specializes in sleeping disorders….or try to convince your boss that you need a midday nap.

The search for productivity is an ongoing process. I’ve been researching techniques that work best and have developed an online course that is sure to help you solve your time management problems. PATHWAY TO PRODUCTIVITY AND TIME MANAGEMENT is a one hour course designed to tackle some of the biggest issues we all face. From managing our time and calendars to dealing with workplace distractions. I cover it all in my course.

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