There is something about having productive days — we get this sense of accomplishment which often makes us feel good about ourselves. The challenges we face is that a productive day does not just happen. We must cultivate it.
We do that by putting in place certain practices or behaviours each day that will make it inevitable for us to have productive days.
One thing we must always remember is that there will be days when we won’t be at our best and our level of productivity will not be as high as we would like it to be. While it is important to minimise days like that, it is also important to accept that we will have those kinds of days and not to be too hard on ourselves when it does happen.
The better we get at doing the things that will ensure we are productive, the easier and quicker we will get things done, which means we will accomplish our goals a lot faster.
Over the years, one thing I’ve tried to do to be productive consistently is to work on one thing at a time. The idea of multi-tasking is not an intelligent strategy for being productive. Recently, I was working on updating a 100-page document for one of my products. I had initially planned to work on the document for about an hour per day until it was completed. On the first day, it took me an hour just to get through the first 10 pages of the document!
At that rate, it would have taken me another nine days to get it completed. On the second day, I decided to only work on that document until I got it completed. It took me some time initially to get up to speed on what I had done the day before and what I needed to do next, but once I got started, I was able to concentrate a lot better without needing to look at the clock.
The best part about it was I was able to complete the remainder of the document in about five hours, which meant I spent a total of six hours on the document, instead of the 10 hours had I worked on it for an hour at a time. The fact that I was bale to focus on doing one thing meant I wasn’t task switching regularly and my mind was able to concentrate a lot better, which made me a lot more productive. This is just one example of how we can ensure we have productive days, every day.
Here are five additional things we can do that will guarantee we have brilliantly productive days more consistently. Most of these ideas are extremely simple to apply which further supports the value in actually applying them.
- Plan your next day before going to bed. The advantage of doing this is that if we identify specific outcomes we’d like to achieve the next day, when we go to bed, it gives our mind the time and space to come up with ideas that will help us achieve those outcomes. Have you ever woken up in the morning with new ideas on how to get something done or solve a problem you’ve had? That is the power of having our mind work for us while we’re giving our body a rest. Prioritising our activities is extremely valuable as we should do our highest value or most important tasks first.
- Engage your mind and body when you wake up. When we wake up, we’ve typically gone anywhere from six to eight hours without any food or water. It is important that we nourish our body with plenty of fluids, and activate our body either via stretches or a physical workout. We can engage our mind through meditation and visualising how we want our day to unfold. The better the quality of the inner work we do, the better the quality our outer work will be, which affects our level of productivity.
- Take good care of your body. We are constantly using mental and physical energy during the day. Therefore we must take care of ourselves well during the course of the day. Having healthy meals, taking regular breaks, keeping our body engaged by standing up or moving around are some simple things that will help us stay productive. What we drink also play a critical part in how our energy levels fluctuate during the day. If it is possible, having a short nap in the afternoon will also help maintain our energy levels especially towards the end of the day.
- Set up milestones and rewards during the day. We tend to love rewards so we can set up small or large rewards during the day. If we get certain tasks completed, a reward could be food, a longer break or maybe we can allow ourselves some additional distraction time like social media or listening to music. We have to be careful that the rewards don’t have the opposite effect and decrease our productivity. We can experiment with some ideas just to get a sense of what will or won’t work for us in terms of rewards.
- Schedule all activities that must be completed. If we don’t do this, none of the other things really matter. The things we want to get done have to be scheduled in, otherwise un-important but urgent tasks can easily take up most of our day. It is highly beneficial to schedule our highest priorities first and work on one thing at a time. We should also form the habit of scheduling in our breaks and distraction times for checking our emails or responding to messages or phone calls.
Applying the steps above will guarantee extremely productive days on a consistent basis. While it will take some effort initially, the payoff will be well worth the effort. If we don’t put strategies in place, then we’ll be relying on how we feel each day to determine our level of productivity.
Question: What is another simple step that can be taken to be more productive consistently?
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