Tips on Working to a Deadline
Feeling overwhelmed by looming deadlines and never-ending to-do lists can be one of the hardest things to manage in life, especially if it feels constant. When we feel overcome with stress like this, it’s easy to retreat into panic mode and forget to take care of ourselves properly. Luckily, all is not lost, because a few simple changes to our routine really can make all the difference to mental clarity, focus and overall performance. Here are five of the best things to try to keep a level head and get the work done.
Make time for movement
If you’re working to a tight deadline, it might be a natural assumption that your desk is where you need to be. Making time for exercise to naturally boost your energy levels however, even if it’s a brisk walk, some gentle stretching or a 20-minute yoga practise, will really help you when it comes to the main task in hand. If you really struggle to take time to get out of the house, even taking a break to run up and down the stairs for 5 minutes will get your blood pumping and help your body and brain feel more refreshed and invigorated, not to mention giving you and your eyes a break from prolonged screen time.
Improving your focus via ingestion of nootropics, natural brain boosters widely used to increase alertness and mental stamina, can be a great way to enhance performance and mental clarity when you need it most. The way they work is by enhancing cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain, improving its overall health, delivering nourishing compounds like nutrients and oxygen and removing potentially damaging neurotoxins. In turn the brain is chemically more balanced, better able to protect vital brain cells and has a boosted regeneration process, ensuring it functions more efficiently. Although rhodiola rosea and panax ginseng are both well-known, effective nootropics, caffeine is one of the most widely used and ought to have a similar effect.
Get more sleep
If you’re pushed for time, it might sound counterintuitive to make more time for sleep but getting enough shut eye in and around your working hours is so important. While occasional bad sleep is damaging enough to your mental state, long-term lack of sleep can really cause problems like slower reflexes, poor concentration and even a compromised immune system and sadly, often goes hand in hand with the stress of looming deadlines. To ensure you can maintain healthy sleep habits, ensure regular bed and waking times every day (even on weekends) and always aim for between 7-9 hours sleep a night. Switch off all distracting blue light devices at least an hour before bed and make sure your bedroom is neither too hot nor too cold.
When you’ve got your head down it can be tricky to maintain healthy eating habits – or make time to eat anything at all. If you can, keep a bowl of healthy snacks close at hand. Not only will it help keep your blood sugar levels stable and ward off any feelings of dizziness, but the right snacks can also really help improve how your brain functions. While nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E – thought to help improve mental performance because it wards off oxidative stress that attacks the brain – small amounts of dark chocolate are full of antioxidants and are thought to contain natural stimulants which help improve mental clarity and focus.
Tweak your tea
If you usually mainline tea when you’re head deep in deadlines, consider swapping out your regular cup of English Breakfast for the brain-boosting powers of green tea instead. A great source of l-theanine, an amino acid that can reduce mental fatigue and improve cognitive function, green tea is another common nootropic that is a useful aid for improving mental performance. According to one recent study in Phytomedicine, researchers also demonstrated green tea’s effects on reducing anxiety, which can greatly help you feel calmer and more relaxed about the deadline in hand.