Kick-Start Your New Year with These Productivity Tips

Want to be more productive in 2021? We’ve put together sleep coach Nick Littlehales’ top tips for productivity, used by elite athletes to improve sleep, performance, mood, motivation, and of course, productivity. Start your year off right with these simple but effective tips, taken from the revolutionary R90 Technique.

Plan your sleep in cycles per week

Instead of thinking of sleep in hours per night, Nick teaches his athletes to plan their sleep in cycles per week. A sleep cycle is the 90 minutes it takes a person to go through the different stages that constitute a cycle. Most individuals should aim for 5 x 90 minute cycles (7.5 hours) each night, but you can change this amount to suit you. Start with 5 and see how you feel, increase or decrease cycles as needed. Once you know how many cycles you need per night, you can start to plan them per week. 5 cycles a night is 35 cycles a week, so if you miss one cycle during a night, you can add this in as a nap, or an extra cycle another night to reach your weekly target. This is a great technique as it takes the pressure of it all riding on one night and allows you to stop worrying about sleep.

Utilise Controlled Recovery Periods (CRP) 

CRPs, otherwise known as naps, can be a great performance enhancer and improve productivity whilst reducing daytime fatigue. The best time for a CRP is between 1 & 3pm and 5 & 7pm and can last from 15-90 minutes, depending on how much you feel you need. Don’t worry if you can’t actually fall asleep during your CRP, just taking the time to relax, closing your eyes and letting go for a while will do wonders for your productivity and performance. 

Take a Mind Break Every 90 Minutes

As well as having a CRP, another way to reduce fatigue and increase productivity is to have a small mind break every 90 minutes. This doesn’t need to be a major break, just something that gets you away from your current environment. For example, going to get a glass of water, looking out the window or speaking to a colleague. These small but regular breaks will add up during the day to provide increased levels of concentration.

Pre- and Post-Sleep Routines

Incorporating pre- and post-sleep routines into your day will not only improve your sleep and recovery, but can also prepare you for a productive day. Your pre-sleep routine should be in the 90 minutes before your sleep time and should contain some simple activities that will prepare you for sleep and the following day. It could include writing a to do list for the next day, preparing your bag, changing your bedding or writing down anything of importance that happened during your day.

Your post-sleep routine should be in the 90 minutes following your wake time and can include activities such as having breakfast, doing some exercise, getting out in the daylight, listening to a podcast or reading a book. This will help you transition from sleep into a fully awake state and prepare you for a productive and positive day.

Increase Your Light Exposure

Blue light, which comes from daylight and technology, gets a bad name nowadays, but it is extremely useful for waking you up and reducing fatigue. In the morning it is important to open your curtains straight away, or even go outside to get the full benefits of light waking you up. During winter, or if you wake extremely early, daylight lamps can be used. Throughout the day ensure you are exposed to as much blue light as possible, get outside on your lunch, sit by a window, invest in a daylight lamp to keep on your desk. Blue light triggers serotonin production which increases energy, mood and motivation, this serotonin is then converted to melatonin during the evening which helps you sleep. Ensure you reduce exposure to light in the 90 minutes before sleep so your body begins producing melatonin.