Missing a deadline or making a silly mistake is an everyday reality if you’re a working professional. After all, you’re a human, not a robot. But that doesn’t mean these errors aren’t frustrating and disheartening – after all, research points out that we tend to focus more on negative than positive events, and that is certainly applicable when discussing work. (Who doesn't obsess over that little typo?)
While you can be hyper-diligent about improving professional performance through specific techniques (always read, then re-read every single email you send), there are also totally simple ways in which you can get “better” at your job – and they don’t have anything to do with proofreading, scheduling or taking outside courses, either. Here they are.
We know that exercising helps reduce stress, can fight disease and is involved with elevated levels of the “feel-good” hormone dopamine. All of these benefits directly impact your professional performance, which is enhanced when you’re less stressed, healthier and happier. But working out doesn’t just have the ability to make you feel good mentally and physically – it can also do things like improve your concentration, enhance your memory and accelerate your ability to learn. In fact, over time, regular exercise can increase the size of your hippocampus, the brain area involved with verbal memory and learning. We vote for exercising in the morning to boost energy levels and prevent sleep disruption, but many people prefer post-work – whatever camp you fall in, aim to do so 4-5 times per week.
Eat and drink well
Studies show that eating unhealthily is linked with a 66% loss of productivity in the workplace – and understandably so! What you put into your body truly does influence your ability for output, so it’s important to fuel yourself with the right foods. This means eating plenty of whole, vitamin- and nutrient-rich foods, upping disease-fighting antioxidants and chowing on omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for promoting brain health. It also means avoiding substances like alcohol, sugar and refined carbohydrates. But don’t take this as a directive to go on the Atkins diet – in fact, numerous studies like this one have pointed out the important role that (unrefined) carbohydrates can have in memory and performance.
Given that meditation helps reduce stress and ease anxiety, it’s no surprise that it could help boost work performance. But meditation’s benefits, much like that of exercise, go far beyond enhancing your ability to prevent office freak-outs and more about your long-term ability to perform at a high level. Indeed, regular meditation increases the density of brain “gray matter”, the which are associated with memory, sense of self and empathy. (All important factors in professional success.) Furthermore, more research has shown that meditators also have superior attention spans to non-meditators. So, ready to take that next step at work? Begin by shutting down your email and finding a quiet space.