1. Morning Routine
The most important part of the day is the morning because the way you start your day sets the tone for the entire rest of your day. You don’t have to wake up at 5:00 am to have a successful morning but if you start your day rushing around, stressed out, and consuming negative energy from news and social media, then the rest of your day is most likely going to be about the same (i.e. rushed, stressful, negative). However, if you start your day by filling yourself up with positive energy in a relaxing way, then the rest of your day will most likely be a great one!
My current morning routine looks like this: I wake up, shower, meditate, manifest, read, and then plan my schedule/top priorities for the day. If you’d like to read more about my tips on creating your own morning routine, check out my article (morning routine article).
2. Evening Routine
The second most important part of the day is how you end your day because, in order to have a successful morning routine, you really need to have an evening routine in place. A successful morning starts the night before. An evening routine should consist of relaxing activities that let your body know it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. You want to make sure that you can get to sleep at a time where you can get your 7-8 hours of sleep before you move into your morning routine.
My current evening routine looks like this: do some light stretches, write in my journal, meditate, and read a book. You can read more about creating your own evening routine in my article (evening routine article).
3. Prioritize To-Do List
A to-do list can actually make you less productive if not done correctly. if you have a long to-do list for the day, you might feel pulled to do the small things that won’t take very long just so that you can start checking off some of the boxes. This might look and feel like you are being productive but it’s actually not the best way to handle your to-do list.
A better way is to take a look at everything you would like to do and chose 3 non-negotiable items, things that you HAVE to do in order to feel like you have had a successful day. You want to focus on these 3 things first and then you can move on to the next 3 things based on the level of importance, not based on how much time they will take.
This process helps with several things. First, it will help you avoid the state of analysis paralysis, where you have so many things that you need to do so instead you chose nothing or take extra time deciding what to do first. If you prioritize your to-do list, then you will know exactly what order to do things in which will save you both time and energy. Second, this process will also make your to-do list look more manageable. Rather than looking at 15 things that you need to do, you only have to look at your top 3. If you would like to read more about prioritizing your to-do list, check out my article (How to conquer any to-do list).
4. Drink Water
Our brains are about 70% water so it makes sense that if we drink more water, then our brains will function better. Most people should be getting about 8 cups of water per day but many of don’t even get close. One of the easiest things you can do to improve your energy and concentration is to drink more water. When you have more energy and concentration, you will also become more productive!
5. Eat Healthy Foods
Our food is our main energy source and if you are eating processed foods that are harder to digest then that is going to have an effect on your energy levels and ultimately your productivity. If you are eating processed food, inflammatory food, or any food that your body is sensitive to, then that is going to cause you to have less energy and also less concentration.
If you want to improve your productivity, you want to eat food that will nourish your body and your brain which are whole foods like vegetables, fruit, and clean meat. The better you eat, the more energy you will have, and the more productive you will become. Try eating nourishing foods for a week straight and see how much your productivity improves!
The more we take care of our bodies, the better they work! In addition to clean eating, you should also be moving your body in some way every day. Not only will this release serotonin, a chemical that makes you feel happier, exercise also gives you more energy and concentration just like healthy food.
There is no right or wrong way to exercise so you can do whatever works best for you! I like to take short breaks every hour during the day to take a quick walk. When I get back, I always have more energy and concentration. A great goal to set is to try to get a 30-min workout in 3 times a week and 10,000 steps every day. Do this and see how your productivity increases.
7. Take Breaks
If you have heard of the Pomodoro Method, then you know how important it is to take breaks. The Pomodoro Methods suggests breaking your tasks into 25-minute time-blocks. After each time block, you take a 5-10 minute break and then start another one. After about four 25-minute sessions, you can take a longer break for 20-30 minutes. During your breaks, you want to do something unrelated to work and ideally relaxing such as breathing meditation, grabbing water or tea, or going for a quick walk.
This method is a great way to improve your productivity. When you break things into 25-minute blocks, the task becomes more manageable and less intimidating which will help you focus and move forward. If you try this method, you will most likely find that you finish tasks much quicker by eliminating distractions and “racing against the clock” in a way. You can also create your own version of this to make it work for you. Maybe instead of 25-minute blocks, you can do 45-minute blocks with 15-minute breaks.
8. Set Social Media Boundaries
One of the biggest distractions that interfere with productivity is social media and e-mail. It is challenging to concentrate on a task when you have notifications coming in from other sources that draw your attention away. One way to deal with this is to set boundaries around your social media usage and when you check your e-mail, text, phone, etc. I personally have 4 times throughout the day that I designate for my check-ins where I give myself 20 minutes. At first, I felt like I was missing important notifications but I got used to the schedule and it works beautifully.
Note: if you work at a job where you do not have the freedom to only check your e-mail and phone a few times per day, you can still do this by creating more times where you check in. For example, you could check in every hour for 10 minutes which might be sufficient and still give you 50 minutes of distraction-free time per hour.
9. Visualize Clear Goals
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. If you don’t have clear, defined goals, then you are most likely just busy. In order to be productive, you need to be doing tasks that are important and will bring you closer to the desired outcome. If you don’t have a clear destination, then it can be easy to get caught up in unimportant, time-consuming tasks that are not effective.
The best way to ensure you are being productive rather than just busy is to sit down and define where you would like to go and the steps that need to occur in order to get there. You can also clearly define tasks that are important and tasks that are unimportant. Once these things are clear, you will be able to choose what tasks to do in a more efficient and effective way.
10. Create The Environment
Your environment has a huge effect on your productivity. The best environment for one person might be completely different from the next person so it is important to understand what conditions you work best in and then adjust your environment based on that. Things to consider are music, lighting, decorations, sitting vs. standing, etc. For me, I work best with no music, bright lighting, a nice-looking area with flowers and other decorations, sitting, and in an area where there are not many people around. Your environment might be completely different.
You should also have a designated space where you do your work. For example, if you have a home office, you should only use it when you are working, not when you are surfing the internet, online shopping, or other unrelated tasks. This will help you train your brain so that when you are in your office, you automatically shift into work mode which will improve your productivity.
Note: if you like to listen to music while working, try listening to music that does not have any lyrics.
11. Self Development Every Day
30 minutes of self-development every day does wonders for productivity. Self-development is learning so it keeps your brain sharp and it also serves as motivation to keep working towards your goals. You can choose to read a book, listen to an audio-book, listen to a podcast, take an online course, or anything else that will stimulate your brain and give you new ideas to think about. I find this practice to both motivate me and keep my mind open to new ideas.
Last but not least, play! Counter to intuitive belief, play is one of the best things you can do to increase your productivity. If you are always working, it is very easy for your brain and your body to become burnt out and lose motivation, creativity, and stamina. However, when you make play a priority in your day, you are stimulating the creative area of your brain to help you come up with new ideas, energize you, and bring back some motivation.
The next time you find it hard to come up with an idea or find motivation, try taking some time to play a game, connect with your kids if you have them, or do anything that inspires and lights you up. When you come back to your work, you should have more energy, motivation, and ideas to help you move forward faster than you ever could without making time for play.
Mindset & Habit Coach