Ever wake up in a panic just knowing you have so much to accomplish in one day?
Does it ever seem overwhelming or impossible?
Well, worry not! Because, I got you!
Here is what I do to make my day the most productive:
1) Execute Your Morning Routine
We all have our morning routines… I suggest Hal Elrod’s SAVERS: silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, read, and scribe. Whatever yours is, you need to stick to it even on busy days. Don’t let that anticipation interrupt your morning tranquility. It is so important to start your day on a high note!
If you start your day off rushing through your routine, that sets the tone for your day. Just take a breath, and go through each thing step by step.
When I skip out on one of my morning routine items, I have this feeling that the whole world is happening and I am 5 minutes behind. That is not a good way to feel for a whole day, so I might as well just start the day off right! Plus, I am so much more productive when I stick to my morning routine.
As my mom would say, when you start your day off productive like this, “the rest of the day is gravy.”
2) Get Ready Before Attempting the To-Do List
Aside from executing your perfected morning routine, you need to just make sure you get ready. No time for lounging around in your pajamas all morning–you are just procrastinating! Get in the shower, wash your face, put on fresh clothes, and feel good.
For me, this makes all of the difference! Usually I wake up and almost immediately go work out. When I get home from the gym, I find myself trying to dive right in to my to-do list because there is so much on it and so little time. As much as I need to get things done, at some point in the day I will need to be presentable. SO, might as well get that one out of the way at the beginning of the day, right?
Aside from just feeling good and refreshed, it starts your day off with a win! You didn’t procrastinate, and it’s one less thing to do! How many of you actually write down “get ready” on your to-do list? Or write in “shower” for its own time slot in your day planner? …*crickets* NONE of you? Am I right?
It is because you don’t think of this as a task you need to do, you might put this off until the last possible minute before you have to interact with people. This jeopardizes your timeliness, adds to your stress (because who likes to feel rushed when getting ready?), and is 100% preventable.
Get ready before you pursue you laundry-list of house chores, work tasks, and social interactions. Trust me, it makes the day flow with ease and minimizes stress.
3) Itemize and Prioritize
Think of all of the things you need to get done and write them down. I am talking pen and paper–not the Notes app on your iPhone. There is just something about writing something down on paper that gives you more perspective. This is where you can prioritize.
If you rank your to-do’s by priority from things that absolutely need to be done to things that could wait until tomorrow, you might realize that you don’t actually have that much that NEEDS to be done today. This is, also, helpful to ensure that you are getting the most important things done first.
Say one thing on your to-do list is to pay a credit card bill–or any bill, reallly–that is something that needs to be done in a time-sensitive manor. If this is prioritized on your to-do list, you’ll make sure that those bills are paid on time before you get wrapped up in another activity. Of course, now we can pay those bills at the click of the button, but getting these things done first ensures that you DO get them done.
As long as all of your high priority tasks are completed, the rest can wait until another available time slot.
4) Give Each To-Do Your Full Attention
I have mentioned that multitasking is not conducive to productivity. And I am a hardcore multitasking individual. Yet, I am completely aware of its destruction.
By attempting one activity at a time, you are able to give each task your full attention. For example, had I sat in my room to read today instead of watching/listening to the Broncos game while reading, I could have probably been half way done with my book. That is because multitasking decreases the amount of focus we are able to give each individual task.
I may have only spent 30 minutes actually reading, but a good play or the inflections in the announcers voices may have pulled my attention away for a total of 60 minutes. That makes it seem like it took an hour and a half to read a few chapters when it was a total of 30 productive minutes. Wouldn’t you want to get something done in 30 minutes rather than 90?
You may think that you are getting more done with doing two things at once, but you are actually taking more time to do less effective work.
That being said, I am all about watching a show while folding laundry, reading a magazine with music on in the background, or reading while walking/running on the treadmill. These and a handful of other tasks almost require multitasking, so there are exceptions.
My job is centered around the ability to multitask, so I am all about being able to do a few things at the same time. Like I said, there are a few exceptions and certain jobs/tasks that practically require the ability to multitask; however, most things can be done quicker and more effectively if you are concentrated on one single task.
5) Simplify and De-stress
I’ll put this simply: delete all of the complications. What I mean by that is to get rid of the stress and emotions tied to each task. Ask yourself: “What needs to be done?” and “How do I get this done?”
The answers to these two questions become your task at hand and your way to accomplish it. You don’t need to add stress to each activity by adding the questions, “What will happen if I can’t get this done?” or “What if this takes me too long?” or “What if this can’t be done?”
There doesn’t need to be a story, a reason or an explanation for everything. Sometimes you just have to DO. The action itself will ensure that your task at hand will be completed. Once you start moving, you are immediately closer to completion than you were before you started.
Give yourself a break and just focus on what you need to do and how you are planning to do it–two simple ways to change the connotation of a busy day from stressful to productive! PLUS, you can be so much more productive when you minimize the stress or overwhelming feelings because you will allow yourself to be more focused.
Think of it like going for a run. If you want to run a mile, that is a specific distance. Imagine you have chosen to run one mile and you run half a mile out on a trail. If you become worried that you can’t finish or that you can’t do it, you are equidistant from the start to the finish regardless. The worry or stress won’t help you teleport home. In fact, it will delay you from completing your run. You are already guaranteed to have to finish that one mile, and nothing but moving and remaining focused will get you out of that task. Break away from the emotion and just start running. You’ll be finished quicker than if you had just walked back or sat there agonizing over having to do it.
By applying these 5 steps to your busy day, you will enable yourself to be more productive.
The goal is to answer the question “How was your day?” without a big sigh and story. Instead, your day was productive and you made the absolute most of it by maximizing your productivity.
What do you find essential for your busy days?
Let me know in the comments!
Tried these tips? Let me know your results below!