How to be happier and more productive in 2021

As one of the UK’s leading London physiotherapists, I regularly write about injuries, treatment and assessment techniques.

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2020 has been, to put it mildly, an odd year for all of us. If you’ve found it hard to get into the routine of the ‘new normal’ then you aren’t alone – but if you’re ready to get going and start 2021 on the right foot, why not start with my top ten tips for being more productive, whether you’re working from home, starting out in self employment, or looking to take on a new hobby next year.

1. Set up your work space

It’s hard to get work done, or focus on anything, if you’re physically uncomfortable. I’ve seen patients working at all sorts of odd set ups during lockdown, and unsurprisingly being hunched at a kitchen table all day at a laptop doesn’t do wonders for your back! Set up your desk (or kitchen table!) to be as comfortable and friendly for you as possible, whether you need a laptop stand or a decent back cushion. If you need specific guidance on how to do this, you can take a look at my online course, Setting up your home workstation for success.

2. Get moving

It may sound counterintuitive, but spending time away from your desk can help you be more productive. We simply aren’t designed to sit still in one place all day. Getting moving can reduce your stress levels, give you more energy, and lift your mood (and that’s before I even mention the physical benefits to your spinal discs, muscles and nerves) – all things that will help make you more productive when you get back to work. Try some gentle stretches at home, a walk around the block in your lunch break, or lift some weights if that’s your thing – or try my super-easy programme, Stretches for Desk-Based Workers!

3. Drink more water!

A simple one this one – even mild dehydration has been shown to impact productivity. Put your water bottle somewhere obvious and visible on your desk, or get a bright reminder if you need one. Chilly’s do a range of great water bottles in bright colours and prints, or you can use this smart water bottle which lets you know how much you should be drinking per hour and even comes with an app to remind you to drink!

4. And – breathe…

It’s been a stressful year, but stress can have a real impact on your mental health – and on your productivity. It’s hard to focus on what’s coming next when you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost at sea. Click this link to see my free playlist of simple breathing exercises that are easy to fit into a spare minute when I need them most.

5. Try a bit of yoga

Speaking of stress, another really good (and proven) way to bring down your stress levels is to try yoga. My online programme, Yoga for Stressed People, explains why yoga can help, and provides a really simple, 5-minute daily routine – use the discount code STUPIDCORONAVIRUS to get 50% off.

6. You are what you eat

Like everyone else, my eating habits changed in lockdown – and not for the better. Unfortunately, sugar spikes and crashes are both bad for productivity (3pm slump, anyone?) If you want to snack, try to keep something healthier within reach. Try snacks that are higher in protein and fats, which will keep your blood sugar level for longer – and a good option to reduce cravings and pack you full of vitamins (and counter the Christmas excess!) is Lean Greens – use the discount code VICTORY10 at checkout to get 10% off.

7. Sleep

It’s hard to concentrate when you’re tired – and there are no shortcuts to a good night’s sleep. If you’re prone to tossing and turning, or even binge watching Netflix in bed, try to turn your screen off an hour before you go to bed. Aim to get 8h with the lights off, in a cool room and a warm bed, and maybe try a lavender-scented pillow spray such as This Works Sleep Plus (my current obsession!) and you’ll feel better rested and ready to tackle the morning when it arrives.

8. Write a list

My admin team know how much I love to-do lists! They’re such a useful tool for making sure little things don’t get left out or forgotten, and if you’re working on a project you want to make sure it’s perfect from start to finish. Writing a to-do list before bed also helps your brain to switch off for the night, because you’ve downloaded all your “must-remember” thoughts from your brain onto paper. You can get some great pads specifically for to-do lists, or if you like to have one handy on your phone, I love Asana.

9. Build useful habits

Some things you do without even thinking about – checking your emails, putting the kettle on in the morning, brushing your teeth… Luckily, you can make the productive parts of your day into a habit too. There’s no set time limit for making something a habit, but you can make it easier on yourself by tying a new practice into your existing habits. Maybe try some stretches whilst the kettle boils, or work on that DuoLingo lesson whilst you brush your teeth. Whatever works for you!

10. Take some down time

This year has been hard, and weird, and a struggle for everyone. The biggest and best thing you can do in 2021, for your productivity and also your mental health, is to look after yourself. That means taking care of the basics like your physical health but make sure to take some down time too – maybe that means phoning a friend for a chat, going for a (safe, socially distanced!) walk with someone you’ve missed, or even just taking the time to stick your favourite music on and have a hot bath. Do something that makes you happy.

So – those are my top tips, I hope they help! Have a lovely Christmas and New Year, stay safe, and I look forward to seeing you in 2021.

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