Dr Brynn Winegard presenting at CPHR BC & Yukon's annual HR Conference in Vancouver on productivity

8 science-based tips from HR conference to improve productivity

I had the chance to attend our client CPHR BC & Yukon’s annual conference in May. I was really inspired by one of the main keynote speakers, Dr. Brynn Winegard, who spoke about how the brain works and how to improve productivity. Some of my favourite takeaways are not necessarily ideas, but as delivered by Dr. Winegard and supported with lots of research, I feel like they reinforce a lot of things I’ve learned the hard way:

  1. Do the most important things first. Mark Twain said, “eat your frogs for breakfast”, and he was right, since our resolve and motivation (which are tied to our energy levels) wear out as the day goes on.
  2. To keep our focus throughout the day, consider splitting the day up into 90 minute chunks, with 15-20 minute breaks in between. This is based on the concept of our 24 hour clock called “ultradian rhythm”. We are much more productive with intervals of shorter focus if we give our brains / body a break in between activities. Our goal should be to get into a cognitive flow, which can feel like a dream state, but allows the brain to actively dig deep on a problem, not just respond to external stimuli.
  3. Multitasking simply isn’t possible. This is called, “code-switching”, and the more we do it, the more we increase our cortisol and stress levels, which can have a negative impact on our health and overall productivity. To keep our focus, we must minimize distractions — for example, leave our phones in another room.
  4. When we do things, we get a hit of dopamine, which feels great. The more we can break up bigger tasks, the more reward and motivation we create for ourselves along the way.
  5. Just start, not worrying about how we’ll finish something. Chances are, once we start, the task will feel a lot easier to finish.
  6. Lifelong learners are shown to be more productive — when something feels hard, we’re learning. Teaching something requires us to really learn.
  7. If we can’t remember our dreams, we’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep is essential for allowing ours brain to catch up from the day, create connections and solve problems.
  8. Meditate. Our brains’ subconscious holds a huge potential, and even 15 minutes a day of meditation can help us tap into its power.

I loved hearing how important sleep is and having this backed up with science. I think it’s easy to demand more and more from ourselves when clients have exciting deadlines and there’s so much to do in a day. I notice how much more productive and efficient I am with more sleep, so I’m working on prioritizing downtime in my day.

Thanks Dr. Winegard, for an inspiring talk, and CPHR BC & Yukon, for reminding me that people are at the core of everything we do for our clients.