Productivity is something you hear about a lot, either on the online space or at work. It almost sounds like robotic and demanding, especially when you must juggle all of life’s commitments at the same time. Those who appear productive or seem to glide through life seem to have mastered it. But really, it’s all about planning ahead and just doing the required tasks at the times that work for them.
Here are some hacks you can use to become your most productive self;
Planning ahead for a productive day
I have a note book that I keep just for listing out my tasks and activities to be completed for the day. The way I do it is;
- Every morning, I jot down a list of any task/project (work or otherwise) that comes to mind;
- Prioritize according to importance. Usually the top 3-5 are the ones I want to complete for the day to get that sense of achievement;
- Write in brackets next to each task who or what you are relying on to complete the task;
- Tackle the tasks and cross them off as you go along!
Daniel Pink’s excellent book ‘When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing’ details some useful insights into how to cultivate a productive day – based on science. I highly recommend it.
Every person has their own internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm. Our cognitive functions vary throughout the day and so Pink says we must organise our tasks according to the time of the day.
His scientific research suggests that morning time is best for diligence and analytical tasks, i.e. report writing, data analysis etc. The afternoon is when we have our slump and so is best suited to administrative work that is more process oriented and doesn’t require excessive analysis. Late afternoon and early evening is the best time for generating a creative thought process, i.e. story writing or brainstorm innovative ideas.
So essentially, Pink says that an individual should arrange his daily tasks and activities according to the time of day. Of course, certain groups of people are wired differently, for example, elderly people are early birds, whereas teenagers and adolescents require a lot of sleep and aren’t fully ‘awake’ till late in the morning. This is due to the onset of puberty this lengthens the circadian rhythm in adolescents, i.e. they need more sleep.
Taking a nap is also extremely beneficial for productivity. Essentially, a nap is like recharging your brain and so it helps with increasing alertness and motor skills among many other benefits. Some companies even offer napping areas, for example Google installed sleep pods (equipped with music and vibrations!) in its offices for staff requiring a nap.
Pink recommends napping for 10-20min to boost alertness and mental function. Along longer than 20min and sleep interia takes over – meaning you get that oozy feeling and it takes extra time to recover. This defeats the objective of the nap in the first place.
Another way to get the most from your nap, is to drink coffee right before you nap. The effects of caffeine from the coffee aren’t metabolized for about 20 mins – which means you should be raring to go from the natural boost of your nap and the caffeine from coffee!
What I do
Here is what works for me during the day to keep me productive;
- A full glass of water first thing after waking to re-hydrate my body after sleeping.
- A big breakfast to give me the energy to get focused for the morning, travel or commit to a task. The breakfast is usually a couple of eggs and avocado with wholemeal toast, porridge and a protein shake. If I don’t have breakfast, I get hunger pangs.
- Jot down my tasks as described above and attack them. I tend to perform most of my productive work during the morning.
- Exercise at 11.30am. This is usually a total body workout that lasts for 30-40 minutes. This ensures I get that kick of endorphins to refresh me and set me up for the rest of the day. I eat straight after.
- Calls and meetings usually reserved for late afternoon where possible
- Training and learning is reserved for early evening.
- Sleep at 10.30am so that I get enough sleep and recharge.
Having good habits and being consistent is vital for being your most productive self. Once you’ve figured out what tasks you need to perform and when you’ll tackle them – in line with your body clock, then it’s a case of just organising your day appropriately.
My own productivity levels have drastically improved since I joined an amazing online community of marketing mentors. If you would like to learn more about how to organize your day, get into a growth mindset and become an online entrepreneur as I did, then I highly encourage you to click here. You can access free workshops presented by my mentor – Stuart Ross, who can help you re-orientate your future towards an online business for greater freedom and fulfillment.