To reach your productivity peak, you need to change your daily habits. Here’s how to become a productivity superhero.
To reach your productivity peak, you need a system.
No, not a computer system, but several things together help you accomplish something.
Building good daily habits and leveraging the right tools is a simple system to help you maximize your day.
There’s a common misconception that tools help improve productivity; they often do, but tools alone are not enough. Productivity is not a one-legged stool where you solely rely on the latest gadget to help you track and plan out your day. Productivity is also about psychology; it is about taking a hard look at your daily habits and weeding out what’s not working. Most importantly, you must be patient and let your new habits do their magic. Here are 11 surprisingly simple habits that can help you improve your productivity.
1. Establish Routines You'll never improve your productivity if you don’t have a routine. If you have a routine, but it’s not working out for you, change it! Don’t stay stuck in a way that doesn’t help you. Let’s say you usually struggle to get going in the morning and rush out the door at the last minute. If this is your morning routine, odds are you will forget something, setting the tone for the rest of the day. There has been plenty of times that I wake up late, rush to leave the house, fight through traffic to get to the office and get to work in a bad mood. All because I didn’t plan out my morning, because I overslept and didn’t have anything ready to go. Design your morning routine, starting with waking up earlier, so you have enough time to get things done before you head out the door for work. Quick Tip I used to charge my phone right next to my bed, which made it easy to hit the snooze button a few times. Now, I keep my phone charging in the bathroom. That way, I’m forced to get up when the alarm starts going off, I get the blood flowing, and it helps me get going. Your routine shouldn’t only be in the morning, be sure to design a way that fits your lifestyle and helps you build the proper structure for your day. “Your future is found in your daily routine. Successful people do daily what others occasionally do!” ~ Paula White
Here’s a great article that helps you tweak your morning routine…
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2. Leverage Productivity Tools
There are countless productivity tools, both digital and non-digital.
To be productive and reach your goals, you need to leverage a productivity tool to help you manage your day and tasks.
If you’re not tech-savvy, the manual way of putting ink to paper is the best way to plan and organize your day.
Use planners and desk calendars. You can download free templates online or walk into any local store and buy pre-made planners.
They work great for people that like to handwrite things rather than typing them onto a computer.
Some people use colorful pens or sticky notes to organize their day; some keep it simple by writing them as a to-do list in bullet points.
Different colors can differentiate between work, school, and personal tasks.
If you use the physical planner, however, take it everywhere!
If you don’t like the idea of carrying a physical planner everywhere you go, use a digital one instead.
Your computer, smartphone, and tablet have great productivity and organizational tools. Most of them are free, easy to use, and very intuitive.
Some of the most basic (and free) are Google Keeps and Reminders, which you can download on Android and iPhone.
Like with non-digital tools, you need a calendar to keep track of your tasks.
The great thing about going digital is that you can sync them from one device to another.
I love using Evernote to track thoughts and ideas, create a to-do list, and even attach images and documents to my notes.
I also primarily use Google calendar; it easily syncs across all my devices and is easy to segregate appointments with color codes.
Remember, the goal is to stay organized so you can complete your tasks, regardless of how you get there.
For more tools, check out the following article:
13 Tools to Help You Regain Your Focus and Improve Productivity
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3. Embrace Change One of the reasons that people struggle with productivity is that they are reluctant to change. Change, no matter how much you might hate it, is inevitable. Sooner or later, it will happen, so embrace it! Changing a routine, a job, or many other things in life can be challenging; it means letting go and stepping out of your comfort zone. Something in your life needs to change if you’re having trouble being productive and staying productive. If you’re afraid of overhauling your life, that’s ok, and it’s natural to be fearful of the unknown. Try incremental change, do one thing at a time. Once you feel comfortable with the change and the results, you can move on to another. “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” — John F. Kennedy
4. Take Breaks Throughout The Day
Despite what many gurus out there say, your mind and body need rest to recalibrate and refocus.
Taking breaks is essential to stay productive at work; it’s also imperative that you take breaks in your personal life.
A simple method to help you take breaks is using the Pomodoro method.
It has been shown to work well for many people as it gives you defined work periods and clear rest periods.
This allows you to have a set schedule for your work and playtime.
Try to do something with movement during your break, such as getting up to stretch or walking around the office.
You can also take this time to do a quick refill, like drinking a coffee or eating a protein snack.
This allows you to have plenty of time for relaxing and recharging.
If you don’t want to follow the Pomodoro method, you can always take breaks as you finish tasks.
For long tasks, though, you might need to break them up into sections to make sure you’re not rushing through them.
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Plan your day, create systems and stick to them.
5. Do the Hardest Tasks First Some people think that knocking out the small tasks first to get momentum is the best approach, but it’s entirely the opposite. The rationale is that your energy level and focus diminish as the day progresses, especially after 2 pm. Do the most challenging tasks early in the morning when your energy and focus are at peak levels. You might also want to do the task you dread the most at the beginning of the day. That way, you get it over with, and it also gives you a sense of accomplishment to carry with you the rest of the day as you complete more things on your to-do list.
6. Get Enough Sleep For some, sleep is the biggest issue when it comes to productivity. If you’re not sleeping enough or not sleeping well, you’ll likely be in a brain fog for the rest of the day, which often leads to dissatisfaction and pushing tasks to the side. I know this first hand because I’m a night owl, I can’t force myself to be in bed and ready to sleep before midnight, and then I’m up at 6 am, tired and unproductive. What’s been working for me lately is shutting down all notifications on my phone at 8 pm. I like to drink soothing tea before bed, which has helped me sleep better. You can also try meditating before bed; it works great for some people. If you wake up tired, with very little energy and motivation, that sets the stage for the rest of the day. It means that, most likely, you won’t get anything meaningful done that day. Ultimately, you need to make lifestyle choices that help you get better sleep, accomplish your goals, and crush your productivity. “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” — Irish Proverb
7. Start with the Right Mindset No matter your goal, it’s essential to have the right mindset. Some days will be harder to change your mindset, but try to wake up with a positive attitude every morning. Your mind is most powerful when you have the right attitude. Your mind can quickly tell you to push things off or to wait until tomorrow. Learning how to combat those thoughts can be your biggest challenge. However, your mind can also tell you can do more and keep going even when times seem challenging. The right mindset can set your day up for success and helps you reach those peak productivity moments throughout the day. Mediation is one way that people practice mindfulness throughout the day. Finding the time and a suitable place to meditate in the office might be difficult, but you can always meditate before and after work at home. Mediation can also help you reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help your body achieve homeostasis. It can even lower stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol. If meditation is not an option during work hours, you can practice deep breathing. Try taking some deep breaths at work at your desk or in the car before you go in. You can also practice better breathing while doing yoga or working out at home. Try some slow yoga at first to get your breathing on track.
8. Exercise More Often Exercise is one significant way you can make sure you are productive. If you can work out in the morning, that will set the stage for a productive day ahead. Getting your body moving early in the day will also help you retrain your mind to accomplish more throughout the day. Only 15 to 20 minutes of exercise a day can make a world of difference. Try doing some workout videos at home and get some weights. You can also do 15 minutes of yoga after waking up and another 15 minutes before bed. This will help you improve your rest and blood flow in the morning.
9. Embrace Emotional Intelligence Emotional intelligence is a popular skill to have in the professional world, yet not easy to attain. Before we go any further, we need to understand emotional intelligence. What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. In other words, being emotionally intelligent is showing empathy for others and being compassionate, respectful, and open-minded about the people you interact with. How can emotional intelligence impact our productivity now that we know what it is? Simple, instead of being upset all day over something you can’t control, you realize it’s out of your control, and you move on. Work is frustrating, long, and sometimes dull, and you have no choice but to do the tasks you hate. Instead of focusing on that, focus on finding ways you can overcome the difficulty and, in turn, become more productive. When in doubt, if you can’t shake it off, remove yourself from the situation, and get another job! “There is an old-fashioned word for the body of skills that emotional intelligence represents: character.” — Daniel Goleman
10. Prepare and Organize
Once your productivity tools are ready, ensure you’re using them to stay organized and prepare for the days and weeks ahead.
I like to prep on Sundays for the week ahead, and it is a ritual that I’ve been doing for years; it helps me plan the priorities for the week, and it helps me stay organized.
We all have the best tool available to us, which is on our phones and computers, and in case you’re hoping for a breakthrough tool, nope, it’s your calendar!
I know plenty of people who would rather wing it throughout the day than think about using a calendar.
Don’t wing it; take advantage of the tools available, organize your priorities, plan your day, and prepare to take massive action!
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When life seems to be derailing, put these strategies to work so you can regain your footing.
11. Take Massive Action I recently wrote an article about the successful habits that the rich practice daily, and one of those habits is that they take massive action. Why? Because even with the best tools you can find, with the right mindset and energy, and everything else, nothing will happen unless you take massive action. Taking massive action helps you stay engaged and focused on the task. The focus comes when you have a clear set of goals and take the proper action to accomplish those goals. When you take massive action, you can see your progress toward the things that matter to you. Successful Habits The Rich Practice Daily Habits help shape the person you need to become, so you can appreciate the success you want. medium.com
Takeaway Productivity is not a one-legged stool. Productivity is accomplished by leveraging the right tools at the right time, forming habits, and taking massive action. There’s a direct correlation between positive habits and increased productivity, so find those habits that propel you and set you up for success!
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