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5 Tips to Maintaining Productivity When We Spring Forward

Stay productive while springing forward during Daylight Saving Time. Here’s how.  [TWEET]

When it comes to Daylight Saving Time (DST), it's much easier to set our clocks back an hour than it is to move the hands up an hour; in other words, we'd much rather gain an hour of sleep at night vs. lose an hour. But it's not just the amount of sleep that's impacted by DST, our body clocks are also impacted making for a long few days after DST takes effect.

A 2012 study released on the American Psychological Association's site, Lost Sleep and Cyberloafing, showed a "dramatic increase" in cyberloafing at work on a national level after Daylight Saving Time. Another study, Changing to daylight saving time cuts into sleep and increases workplace injuries, from the Journal of Applied Psychology, "...found that in comparison with other days, on Mondays directly following the switch to Daylight Saving Time—in which 1 hour is lost—[mining] workers sustain more workplace injuries and injuries of greater severity." In their 2014 New York Times post, The Economic Toll of Daylight Saving Time, David Wagner and Christopher Barnes go further to state that "their research also showed that employees with inadequate sleep are likely to be less ethical, less morally aware, more prejudiced and more apt to engage in abusive supervision." This goes to show the difficulty increasing productivity at work after DST takes effect.

Many argue this type of information should be enough to do away with DST altogether, while others might opt to move to Maui or Arizona where they don't have to deal with Daylight Saving Time. Regardless of your stance on the issue, the research does lend to the idea that we need to take steps to better prepare for DST so we can remain safe in the workplace and learn how to increase productivity. Here are some tips to increase productivity at work:

1. Mentally prepare yourself

We are aware in advance that we’re scheduled to set our clocks back at two a.m. on Sunday, March 13, giving you the weekend to mentally prepare for the fact that you'll be losing an hour of sleep that night. Not only will you be impacted that night, but your body's internal clock will have to adjust to t waking up and going to bed at a different time of day (i.e. getting up when it's still dark outside and going to bed shortly after sunset). As with anything else, when we mentally prepare ourselves for the change, it becomes easier to deal with. It allows our minds to begin to adjust to what's about to happen, which also opens up room for new solutions in how to increase productivity at work and home.

2. Be patient with yourself in the mornings

You'll essentially be waking up an hour before you're used to—if you typically get up at six a.m. before the clocks are set forward, then it's like your body is waking up at five a.m. after the clocks are set forward. On top of that, you'll be losing an hour of sleep the night the clock is set forward. Use this awareness to put a plan in place to increase productivity at work and home so you can adjust more easily. Maybe you take a shower the night before so you can sleep in an extra 15 minutes, or if you normally work out in the mornings, maybe work out in the evenings until your body adjusts to the new time change. Whatever you opt to do, be patient with yourself and know that is can take some time for your body to adjust to the time change.

3. Take a day of vacation or personal days

It might sound crazy to take a day of vacation or personal time just because the time changed, but given the effects outlined above, it's not a bad idea. Use the day to allow your body to rest and more easily adjust to the change. In fact, take a couple of days off in a row if you can. This will also allow you to adjust mentally to the fact that it's staying dark for longer in the mornings and daylight lasts longer into the evenings. As mentioned before, studies have shown that more injuries and illnesses occur the couple days following DST, so again, taking a day or two off can keep you safe, not to mention saner through the process.

4. Plan your day accordingly

Knowing that loss of sleep will occur and the fact that your body's clock will be off, be mindful of this productivity tip: avoid scheduling meetings or major projects for the Monday following DST if at all possible. Attempt to keep your workload light and only do the essentials to increase productivity at work. Maybe choose to do work that doesn't require a lot of brainpower, but still provides productivity, like taking care of some needed filing or organizing.

5. Look on the bright side

There are some positives to daylight savings time. I love the fact that it doesn't get dark until later in the summer evenings, which allows for more time to play outdoors -- take walks, swim, bike, picnic, and, well, you get the picture. For those who have day jobs, they now have more time to go home and tend to their gardens in the evenings if they'd like; or if you have children, you'll be able to go out and throw ball with them or do whatever outdoor activity you've promised them you'd do after you got home from work.

For many professionals, taking the day off or doing what you jolly well please isn't an option after DST. If you can't take a day off, or you don't want to, then consider some of the other tips to maintain safety and increase productivity at work during DST. After a few weeks, your body will finally adjust, and things will feel normal again; until we "fall back" with those clocks in the fall, that is.

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