Ever sat down at your desk for an entire day and by 6:00 p.m. feel like you accomplished nothing?

Nine hours went by, and you feel more behind than when the day began. What the heck happened!?

Maybe you spent all that time lost in a daydream you couldn’t remember.

Perhaps you accomplished so many things throughout the day that upon quittin’ time, you didn’t have the mental resources to compute the work onslaught that just took place.

Or was it that you failed to prioritize your tasks, used every incoming email, push notification or new initiative thrown at you to distract yourself from the initial task at hand, as a result spending most of the day bouncing from tab to tab, email thread to email thread, and only getting a marginal amount of work done on something that wasn’t even your main priority?  

It might be tough to admit, but acknowledgment is the first step to solving any problem.

The digital economy continually demands our attention and from every angle. To feel bogged down is understandable. But for many people, it’s not just a barrage of distractions and a sense of being unproductive that are the issues; we’re “working” more than ever, some of us never really “clocking out” mentally.

As Patrick Leddin points out in his post on today’s productivity issues, our always-on work cycle is leading to poor diets, a lack of exercise and inadequate sleep. These are not job issues; they are life issues!

Lady working on her MacBook Pro in bed at night, the laptop glow filling the room.

It’s obvious this has to change. But, what can be done—particularly in a digital economy that champions workaholics yet mandates the hours at which we’re supposed to be productive?

Prioritize Instead of Multi-Task

If you didn’t hear, the multi-tasking fad is over. It’s hurting our productivity and leading to more error-prone work. According to the American Psychological Association, even brief mental blocks caused by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time. Yikes!

How to do we stop our bad habits? We need to simplify our work life. Prioritizing our most important task and working on it in a blocked-off amount of time puts us in the best mental position to succeed. Some use the Pomodoro Technique, consisting of 25-minute focused work increments. Experiment with what works best for you. 

Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks, going for a walk without your cell phone or even getting in a short nap, can all help us to regain clarity and focus in our work, says Daniel Pink, author of “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” in an NPR Interview earlier this year.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview for motivational context: 

“Because human beings are not inexhaustible supplies of energy. We need that recharge. And it actually ends up being really important . . . the whole idea of breaks I think, especially in the United States where we have this sort of, you know, puritanical tradition of work where you power through, where you don’t relent is counter to the science . . . one of the things that I’ve discovered and in fact changed my own behavior on is that my view always was amateurs take breaks; professionals don’t. And it’s the exact opposite. Professionals take breaks. Amateurs don’t. Breaks are part of performance. They’re not a deviation from performance.”

Office worker stretches his arms high and smiles after being productive and earning himself a much-deserved break.

Focusing our undivided attention on one task at a time and taking breaks to keep our minds fresh go a long way toward avoiding common work cycle pitfalls. If we can feel positive about our work behavior and get more done in the process, maybe we’ll leave the office with a sense of accomplishment. And instead of retreating to safe zones like takeout and television, we’ll be more likely to exercise for an hour, prepare a healthier meal and lie down to rest with a clear mind.

Find Your Zen Anywhere 

At HotelsByDay, we can help you find some zen during the workday. That’s why we created NapByDay — an easy way for you to find a nice hotel to take a quick (or extended) nap. Bonus: many of these quick nap hotels have fitness rooms. After a nice siesta, you can get your heart rate up, shower in luxury and be back to your best mental self.

Once you find a space that suits you, book a nap hotel room and leave this vicious modern work cycle behind you!

Image Credits:

Featured image: “Full Focus” by Tim Gouw via Unsplash

“The Luxury Trap” by Victoria Heath

“Well-Deserved Break” by rawpixel

Person lying comfortably on their side in bed.

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Kyle Blasco

Kyle Blasco is a writer, SEO content strategist and editor. When he’s not deep in an internet rabbit hole, he’s riding his Univega road bike, finding stimulating cafes and pleasantly experiencing sensory overload roaming a new city.