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3 Simple Ways to Boost Productivity

Posted by Joel Marion on June 10, 2009

In yesterday’s post we discussed the counterproductivity of using coffee as a focus or productivity aid during times in which our bodies really just need to “unplug”.

We also mentioned yesterday that every so often (perhaps once every hour or two) throughout the work day we experience a lack in focus and concentration. This is our body’s natural way of telling us “hey, take a break and recharge”.

So what do you do to “recharge”? Grab a cup of coffee? Hopefully by now you see that going that route is essentially the exact opposite of what your body needs.

If you really want to increase productivity, especially during times where mental concentration seems to be lacking, try using some of the strategies I provide below instead of refiring your nervous system (you’ll see that these tactics actually strive to achieve the opposite).

1. Controlled breathing – I actually did a post on breathing exercises a little while back where I went over something called the 4-7-8 technique. Many of you probably missed that, however, so I’ll include it again here.

To start, exhale completely through your mouth, then:

  • Breathe in through your nose over a period of 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Exhale completely through your mouth over a period of 8 seconds

Repeat the above three steps three more times for a total of four breaths.

You’ll be amazed at how this extremely simple breathing technique will skyrocket your mental clarity when you put it into practice. In fact, try it now – I guarantee you’ll feel an immediate difference.

2. Aromatherapy – The sense of smell is one of our strongest senses with many different scents and aromas proving to promote a large range of “experiences” from relaxation, to sensuality, to increased energy and clarity.

When I’m working at home (which is rare), I generally do breathing exercises with a few candles going in the background. Just brings a whole new element to the experience.

To rejuvenate and revitalize, look for aromatherapy candles and/or essential oils containing rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, spearmint and/or peppermint.

3. Meditation – Trust me, I’m definitely NOT all “new age” and when I say “meditation” I’m NOT talking about sitting cross-legged, palms up, chanting “ummmmmmm” over and over.

Meditation doesn’t have to be that stereotypical.

Meditation simply is “a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflexive, ‘thinking’ mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness.” (straight from Wikipedia, baby)

Simply relaxing while using controlled breathing is a form of meditation. But there are ways to take meditation even deeper, for ultimate relaxation and subsequent productivity.

In fact, about six months ago a business friend of mine introduced me to something that I use daily while meditating (again, not the stereotypical meditation; these sessions only last 10 minutes) and at other times day—and I can tell you that this ONE single thing has easily been responsible for tripling my productivity each and every day since then.

Do you want to know what it is?

At least 75 comments and I’ll be back on Friday to reveal it in detail.

Seriously, tripled productivity.

While you’re at it, give the 4-7-8 technique a try right now and let me know how you feel after 4 breaths!

Talk to you in the comments section!



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132 comments - add yours
Megan Petley

April 30, 2010

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That’s great advice on the breathing Joel. I learnt that exact technique to prevent anxiety attacks but stopped using it as exercise and lifestyle changes caused my anxiety to reduce. I struggle with the caffiene, too tired/wired to issue esp as a lot of my fight training happens at night amping me up! So I will re instate it as a non coffee mental refocusing technique at night. I’ve got a free meditation cd off the net and am checking all that out too as quality sleep is very imporntant to me. For anxiety it helps to raise the arms as you breathe in, click the fingers for the 7 count (gives distraction/timing ) and purse the lips when blowing out. (use blowing out a candle metaphor or use a plastic water bottle pop top to blow through. ) Great for nervous kids. :)

Megan Petley

April 30, 2010

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I’ve also found that setting my alarm clock in 90 minute sets for sleep means I wake up focused and ready to rock! ie 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 7.5 hours or 9 hours and a 90 minute nap if I have my main sleep as a 6 or 4.5 hour block. The 5 stages of sleep take 90 minutes to cycle through and if you try and wake in the middle of one you will be very groggy. I spent years hitting snooze 5 times then dragging my ass of to work after 5 coffee’s and 20 ciggy’s . The 8 hours we are told to get is EXACTLY wrong. there is some very interesting research on all this coming through on the net in various places. As I do hard physical training at night, I’m finding Bi-phasic sleeping (90 min nap + 4.5 or 6 hour main sleep )on those days a life saver!

Megan Petley

April 30, 2010

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Spooky! The meditation cd I got for free off the net was from Holosync!
I got it a few weeks ago but I haven’t used it yet as I wanted to get my Cortisol and DHEA hormone levels done at the lab so I have a baseline to track my progress. I’ve had the lab tests done now and have also had two fitness test done in the last 2 weeks. One at each of the two fighting gyms I train at focusing on slightly different things. I’m getting some before pics shot in small bits of lycra tomorrow afternoon. (EEEEEEK!) So I have all this base data before I implement your tips/meditation help. I love science!


June 15, 2010

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I work with many people who substitute coffee for sleep, and consequently spend most of the day topping up their body with caffeine. I’ve never liked Coffee and have never relied on it for focus.

If I find I’m losing focus in work, I’ll go for a walk. I find exercise is a great way to clear the mind.

Chris Cannon

June 29, 2010

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Great tips for concentration, relaxation, and productivity.

Lately I’ve been using a technique called the Pomodoro Technique for productivity and time management. While the “work sessions” are used primarily for doing business and work related tasks, I frequently use the 4 to 5 minutes “break” sessions each day to stretch, drink water, or even fit in a 4 minute Tabata…

It’s really been highly effective for me.


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Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you actually understand what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my website =). We can have a hyperlink trade contract among us

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