There's no shortage of tools prescribed to help us become more productive. From Post-It notes to to-do lists to Slack, we're quick to take the doctor's medicine and adopt tools that promise to save us hours each day. If you're like me, you haven't yet found a cure-all. Perhaps we're trying too hard.
As a certified gum-chewer, I can attest that the simple act of chomping on a piece of gum can do wonders in boosting your productivity levels. But, don't take my word for it. There are mounds of research to back up my claim. While gum won't likely cause your productivity levels to skyrocket, it may just help you inch your way to peak productivity.
1. Fighting distraction
The workplace if rife with distraction. Gossiping coworkers, the steady flow of email notifications, and swarms of micromanaging higher-ups are only a few culprits. Chewing gum can help boost your concentration levels and keep office distractions at bay.
According to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at St. Lawrence University in New York, chewing gum increases our concentration levels as a result of "mastication-induced arousal". That is, chewing gum can be likened to a physical activity that prepares the body for activity and, in turn, raises our concentration levels.
2. Boosting memory
Chewing gum also may improve our memory. A 2001 study out of the Tokyo Medical and Dental University found that chewing gum increases the flow of blood to our brain. This means more oxygen and energy is channeled to our brains, in turn boosting its performance. If you've ever forgotten a project deadline, your Gmail password, your wallet, or a colleague's birthday, it might be time you give chewing gum a gnaw.
3. Reducing fatigue
Do you consistently struggle to stay awake at work? If the coffee's not doing it, it may be time to pull out the Wrigley's Spearmint. In 2011, researchers at Coventry University found that people chewing mint gum significantly decreased their feelings of tiredness. The researchers allege that mint flavor has arousing effects that give rise to heightened cerebral activity, causing us to become more alert.
4. Lowering anxiety
A 2008 study published by researchers at Swinburne University in Austria revealed that chewing gum reduces an individual's cortisol levels. It's been proposed that chewing stimulates the brain's vagus nerve. This stimulation causes our heart rate to decrease and can result in us feeling more relaxed and more productive.
5. Strengthening relationships
As reported by the Guardian, a study commissioned by the British Dental Association (BDA) found that 18 percent of people believe bad breath is the most unattractive feature a person can possibly exhibit--more ghastly than acne or dirty fingernails. Your bad breath can harm your relationships. It's hard--if not impossible--to be productive without the support of your peers. Keeping a pack of gum in your back pocket may be a sure-fire way to beat bad breath, keep relationships with your coworkers intact, and boost productivity.
By all accounts, it seems chewing gum is just what the doctor ordered for productivity gains. And unlike most antidotes, it's cheap and it doesn't require a prescription. Sure, the gains may be modest. But, when it comes to warding off workplace distractions, we need all the help we can muster.