When you’re working on someone else’s clock, it’s easy to watch the hours slip by. Salary.com’s annual Wasting Time At Work survey reports of more than 1,000 people reports that 64 percent of all employees waste at least some time at work every single day. Nearly one in four wasted more than one hour of the work day. Home inspectors don’t have that luxury. Getting paid by results, not by time you spend at the office, means maximizing working hours is a must. Thankfully there are ways to do that without changing a thing about the way you do business. Here are three scientifically-proven ways to up your business game.
1. Rise and Shine
The metaphorical early bird statistically does get the worm. According to research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, those who seize the day bright and early are more likely to be “proactive” and are more likely to achieve career success than those who wake up late. “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards,” researcher and biologist Christoph Randler told the Harvard Business Review when defending his study. Randler’s work was backed up by a separate study by researchers at the University of North Texas who concluded that students who rose earlier had average GPAs that were a full point higher than late risers.
Even if you’re not a morning person and drag yourself into the office day after day, there are steps you can take to increase your morning productivity. You can start by setting your circadian clock to an earlier schedule, either by getting outside first thing in the morning or by going camping to get on a more sunrise/sunset schedule according to research from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
2. Get Some Sleep
One out of every three of us aren’t getting enough sleep, but what you may not know is that it’s cost us…and it’s costing your home inspection business. Researchers from Harvard Medical School estimate that lack of sleep alone costs US companies approximately $63.2 billion in lost productivity every year. There are an almost endless number of studies confirming that sleep not only directly improves mental function, but it also drastically impacts emotional perspective, memory, out outlook on work and both personal and professional relationships. Some companies even go so far as to offer nap rooms at the office.
Knowing you need sleep isn’t enough. To nab a few more zzzz’s, head outside and amp up your exposure to sunlight. One study shows that office workers who had more exposure to the sun slept an average of 46 minutes more per night than those who didn’t. Obviously budgeting in a few more hours of straight-up sleep or just down time can help, but so can apps like Sleep Cycle that analyze when you’re hitting the hay the hardest and wake you up when you’re in shallow sleep.
3. Turn Off Your Devices
Think that casually checking your e-mail here or mindlessly heading to Facebook for a few seconds there isn’t adding up? Think again. It’s oh-so-easy to slide down the old internet wormhole, which explains why the average person spends a walloping two hours per day on social networks. That includes everyone, even those who don’t use social media. When taking a look at the population of social network users, the number rises to 3.2 hours per day. Device distractions aren’t just taking up time; they’re fundamentally changing our brain chemistry too. A study of more than 1,100 British consumers showed that workers who juggled both a constant flow of electronic messages on top of their work experienced a 10-point drop in IQ. That’s more than twice the average IQ drop experience after smoking marijuana. A joint study by the University of California and the US Army revealed that unplugging from e-mail reduced stress and even affected a worker’s heart rate.
Programs like RescueTime can help you track how you’re spending your computer time, but you’ll need to make a conscious effort to unplug on your own. And it may not be easy. A study from the University of Maryland concluded that some students not only found it difficult to stop using electronic devices, but they were “functionally unable” to quit. Researchers from the University of Chicago found that most working adults consider the Facebook/Twitter/e-mail habit harder to kick than smoking or drinking. But you can (and should) do it, at least temporarily. Going offline can have significant impacts on your anxiety and stress levels, self-esteem, focusing ability, eating habits, sleep and overall attitude.