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Adheeban Manoharan
Adheeban Manoharan

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3 ways you could improve your focus/mood at work πŸ’»

How often have we struggled to focus on a single task. How often have we got sidetracked from our original task and wasted our time on the non-important ones. The struggle is real. In 2000, the average human's attention span was 12 seconds. In 2015, the number got reduced to 8.25 seconds. That's a whopping 31.2% decrease in just 15 years. In fact, scientists reckon that we have shorter attention spans than that of a goldfish which in average has an attention span of 9 seconds. The advent of smartphones brought the entire world within our hands. The amount of information that we encounter everyday could be quite overwhelming.

So it's no wonder that we all struggle to stay focused on the important tasks nowadays, especially at our work and I'm guilty of it too. But what if I say there are some scientifically proven techniques to increase your mood/focus multi-fold. I've been using some of these techniques myself and can definitely vouch for it. β›” Disclaimer: Again working on improving my focus with the below techniques have always worked wonders for me in focusing during work hours and if you'd like to disagree or would like to suggest a better one, constructive debate is always welcome. Now let's dive in.

Music 🎧

From time to time music has proven to be a great mood alterer. Music has a way of permeating through empty corners and filling up environments with substance. It can help you relax, make you well up in tears, or feel alive depending on the type of music you listen and the way your mind interprets the song. For example, Someone could totally vibe for a very sad song, if their mind interprets that song in a different way. Either way music has the ability to alter your emotions. In our case we could easily leverage music as our productivity enhancer.

A 2012 Study suggests that songs without lyrics like the classical genre could actually enhance your productivity multi-fold, while songs with lyrics are likely to reduce worker attention and performance. This is because classical music usually contains alpha waves that work on a neuron level in your brain to release an hormone called Dopamine often dubbed as the 'Happy Hormone' which encourages your brain to go the extra mile. So stick to your Mozart and Beethoven. Hans Zimmer would also do πŸ˜‰

Coffee β˜•

Wars have been fought and empires have been brought down over this brown colored bean. Because they knew the value of this bean. Coffee beans contain a substance called caffeine, which aids in better metabolism, better heart health and even reduce inflammation in the body. On top of all this, caffeine brings your brain into a wakeful state by improving your brain's cognitive function where your brain could function at its best.

Coffee does this by increasing the secretion of an hormone called cortisol which is called as the 'fight/flight hormone' by hitting the adrenal glands. This hormone is responsible for keeping you alive during potential dangers. It essentially puts your body into survival mode both physically and mentally in which you could give your 100%. 15 or 20 mins after a cup of coffee, you will feel the energy boost and heightened focus. This is the reason why coffee is a pretty popular pre-workout drink. Coffee is indeed a magic potion.

But but but, there's always a but right? yeah, don't overdo caffeine. High level of caffeine intake is linked with high level of anxiety and sleep deprivation. Especially one should not take caffeine at least 4 to 5 hours before bed, as it is known to disrupt your sleep. The recommended amount of caffeine is 400mg/day that is almost equivalent to 4 cups (945 ml) of coffee. This should give you an idea. Stay within the limits and enjoy your morning coffee.

Sleep πŸ’€

Yes, with this I might've offended a lot of night owls. This is no myth. Our body definitely needs a good night's sleep to function properly. Being deprived of sleep would affect your body in every possible way, be it mental or physical. It is recommended to sleep at least 7-8 hours a day. During this time, your body rejuvenates itself, patches up the whole body wherever needed. If you steal your body off these most important hours, everything will go haywire. Sleep loss has been associated with a wide range of deleterious health consequences including an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, and stroke. This is something not to be taken lightly.

Nowadays revenge bedtime procrastination is a major sleep killer. In simple terms, revenge bedtime procrastination means you get β€œrevenge” for your busy daytime schedule by fitting in leisure time at the expense of shut-eye. And I wouldn't blame you. But remind yourself that this leisure time is being spent at the expense of your own mental/physical health.

Now, If you want to improve your sleep, try starting by being consistent. Go to bed and wakeup at the same time everyday. This way you are setting the right circadian rhythm for your body to function on. There are multiple other ways in which you could improve your sleep quality, I found this particular article very useful. Have a look and go get that 8 hour shut-eye. You'll find yourself in a better shape in just a matter of days.

winding up...

Well, Now you know why all those hackers/programmers/developers/techies (well whatever they call them in all these movies these days) have been portrayed like how you see in the below image, with a cup of coffee and headphones.

Dev with headphones and coffee

Hope you found this useful, now go get a cup of coffee and get that thing you've been struggling to complete done. Cheers! see you in the next post.

Top comments (8)

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nfntkid profile image
Yousef Macer

Love these discussions that go beyond code.
We are human and we need these tips to stay happy, healthy and productive!

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v0x profile image
Erin Kennedy

My favourite music is by Anthony Sommer! Super easy for me to zone out once I put his videos on.

As far as coffee goes, I pair that with nicotine and ritalin for my brain to really kick into gear in the morning haha. Otherwise I can't really string thoughts together!

Sleep is an uphill battle for me because I struggle to turn my brain off at night. I have so many ideas and things that need doing, and it's not easy to simply go to sleep at night when the thoughts are still happening... However, I hope that will improve with my new note taking system in Foam that will keep my brain empty once I've done a thought dump into my inbox at the end of the day. Strongly considering Dendron in future, though, as it's made for easily accessible notes around coding via search instead of tags and backlinks.

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iamadhee profile image
Adheeban Manoharan Author

Consider trying the military sleep technique. At times I have found this technique very useful for falling asleep fast. It might also help you to steer clear of any thoughts you've been having in the night.

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joolsmcfly profile image
Julien Dephix • Edited on

You can add a very practical and easy to implement step: turn off your phone, or at least data.
No, you don’t need to read WhatsApp notifications right away.
No, you don’t need to read your personal emails as they arrive.
You can check that when you take a break if you want, even though taking a walk would be better. :)

Getting into deep work takes time and is hard for a lot of people. If you get distracted it takes 20min to get back to deep work. Let’s not let that go to waste because of a single notification.

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iamadhee profile image
Adheeban Manoharan Author

Totally agree!

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sojinsamuel profile image
Sojin Samuel

I was going to click on the back button thinking like another productivity tip, but i just thought let me give a try, & you know what i found this post was super useful for me. thnx adheeban - from now on i'm going to enter the world of classical genere & making a schedule not just for my day life but for my night too :)

I hope other devs will also find the gem inside this post too.

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iamadhee profile image
Adheeban Manoharan Author

Glad you found this post useful

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Music is like magic.

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