Ask The Expert

Productivity Hacks for a Happier Healthier Life

We talk to Alice Olins and Phanella Fine, founders of The Step Up Club, who share their productivity hacks looking at the role of wellness within the 9-5, to help us be our happiest, most successful selves. It’s all around small changes that help us work smarter.

How productive are you at work? Here’s a guess: when the going is good, you tick over like a well-oiled machine, but more often than not you’re struggling behind a wall of tiredness, low energy levels thanks to a diet propped up by sugary snacks rather than healthy berries, and too many emails pinging at you throughout the day.

Here’s the thing though, when we’re productive at work it makes us happier beings who, wait for it, are more successful too. Oh and highly productive types also enjoy themselves way more in their downtime. Why? Because they’re riding high on the satisfaction that goes hand-in-hand with working effectively and putting their careers into first gear.

The problem is, in today’s fast-paced, digitally switched on world many of us struggle to get the job done and our productivity languishes around our ankles. If this is you, take heart in the knowledge that you’re not alone. Which is why we’re putting productivity in the driving seat. So British Summer Fruits have teamed up with Step Up Club to give their top work hacks for the best, most accomplished summer of your working life. Clue: you can start right now.

1. KEEP A JOURNAL

You can’t make improvements to your productivity, unless you first make an assessment about how well you work, at which times of day and the triggers and obstacles to your own personal productivity odyssey. So, start by keeping a journal: choose one day, and divide it into half hourly slots. Then, throughout the day, add in what you eat, what you achieve, the number of breaks you take and how you feel at the end. Once you have your own concrete evidence, positive change is so much easier.

2. EMAIL MANAGEMENT

It’s first thing in the morning and you’re ready to accomplish greatness; you sit down at your computer and two hours later you realise you’ve been sucked into an email black hole. Emails are brilliant for speedy communication and terrible for productivity. We say, define a handful of specific daily email slots and otherwise switch the Inbox off. Then notice how you suddenly have time for strategic offline thinking and meetings with real people. A good idea, is to save your email thoughts for each person, and rather than send constant one liners – remember, every email you send creates an opening for a reply – collate a mega email to pop out of your inbox at the end of the day. Then, you’ll give yourself the gift of thinking time.

3. BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY

A summer cold is one of the world’s cruellest tricks. It’s warm outside, but you’re cowering under blankets, managing a dripping nose and non-existent energy levels. Hack: instead of bingeing on Vitamin drinks that look healthy but are swamped with sugar and artificial ingredients, enjoy a punnet of fresh berries. Natural goodness on the go means less illness and an instant health boost – plus just 7 strawberries provide your recommended daily amount of vitamins.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR SLUMP TIME

That part of the day when you feel like you’ve peaked too soon, but there’s still several hours left on the work clock: what to do? Well, research says that when we accomplish menial jobs, it gives us an instant energy boost. So, use your downtime effectively (filing anyone?!) and gift yourself an extra few hours of revved up productivity at the end of the day. Accomplishing even small tasks also delivers a happiness shot, which in our books is a win-win situation.

5. BERRY POWER

Sugary snacks are one of productivity’s biggest enemies. Instant spike + crashing low = lethargy and discontent on all sorts of levels. Instead reach for the berries. Antioxidants + low calories + a steady release of energy = snack Utopia. Berries are great sources of fibre, which means they will keep you fuller for longer.

6. LUNCH BREAK RESSURECTION

Time away from your desk boosts your mood, energy and creativity. The result: an afternoon of profound productivity. So, remember to leave your desk, and even better get out in the open. Sunlight is a natural mood booster, and when we’re feeling good we work better and are more productive too.

7. THE ONE POINT TO DO

Rather than suffering the insurmountable mountain of an on-going To Do list, chose one vital task to achieve each day. When we are able to score a work goal each day, it results in a continued sense of achievement. And achievement feeds into happy productivity. Done.

8. EXERCISE

Being active boosts productivity. Fact.

9. CALL TIME ON COFFEE

And tea for that matter. Caffeine causes the same energy spike and crash as sugar. Replace with fruit or a berry smoothie. Even water is better than a cheeky espresso, because proper rehydration actually sustains our bodies for longer.

10. REPLACE BISCUITS WITH BERRIES

Biscuits and a boardroom are old pals. But they aren’t good friends. Yup it’s that sugar crash again, which combined with flip charts and a possibility of hours without any fresh air inevitably results in too many heavy eye lids. Instead, bring a punnet of berries to the table. Blueberries especially are the perfect working finger food. No mess, great taste and they are chocked full of goodness. Did you know that blueberries are consistently ranked as one of the most anti-oxidant rich foods amongst fruit and vegetables? We told you they were special.

11. SLEEP. AND THEN SLEEP SOME MORE

When we sleep better, we’re more productive. So how to get the best sleep? Start by switching off the smartphone at least two hours before bed – a proven a relaxant. Then, head up early. Also, don’t fret about your sleep. When we get hung up on being a bad sleeper, it makes us feel more tired. So don’t worry about a bit of tiredness, change your rhetoric and bounce into work whatever your night’s been like.

About The Step Up Club

The Step Up Club is a fresh, new voice in the women’s career conversation founded by Phanella Fine and Alice Olins to celebrate all women – whatever their job – sharing wisdom to make women feel empowered, boost their skill set and broaden their network.

Phanella Fine is an executive coach and development consultant. She coaches and trains professionals across Europe for clients including top law firms and investment banks. She holds a Masters in Organisational Behaviour. Phanella began her career as an international finance lawyer working on multi-billion dollar transactions in London and New York. She then moved to become the only female fund manager on JPMorgan’s flagship European Equity Fund desk managing in excess of 20 billion Euros.

Alice Olins has worked at or written for nearly all of the country’s broadsheets and women’s glossies. She spent a decade at The Times as its Senior Fashion Writer, where she contributed front-page stories as well as big hitting fashion and lifestyle interviews for Times2 and the Saturday Magazine. Then came a stint as Marie Claire’s Fashion Features Director, where she commissioned, wrote and edited a weighty proportion of the magazine and co-founded the new publication Marie Claire Runway.

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