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Tips For a Productive Day

Written by on June 11, 2018

Time is one of humanities greatest equalizers. No matter who you are, where you live, or what you do – we all have 24 hours to make the most out of our day. Your goal should be to maximize the available time you have after waking up.

Let’s face it, you probably don’t have the most streamlined approach to your day. As with most things, there is always room for improvement. That’s what we’re here to do.

A Productive Day Starts Early

Early bird, gets the worm. There is a reason the saying exists.

The world is catered to the morning person. Whether you want to believe that or not, early risers typically get more out of the day than their counterparts. I am sure some of you are groaning and rolling your eyes as you’re reading this, but sometimes knowing the truth hurts.

Now here’s the thing – I am not trying to coax you into becoming a morning person. I do however encourage you to tweak your sleep schedule moving forward. If you wake up at 10 or 11, I think it may be time to alter your regiment.

Start slow, but begin waking up earlier each week. Progressively change the alarm for yourself to an earlier time. After a while, you will become a lot more accustomed to this change. As you may know, it can take a while to break a habit – better start now.

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Don’t Ignore the Alarm

One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting their day is relentlessly snoozing the alarm. Trust me, it’s not doing you any favors and you’re only prolonging the inevitable. Stop with the alarm snoozing.

The amount of additional sleep you get from the extra 10 or 15 minutes won’t ever be enough. Those few minutes have the chance of putting you back in the beginning of another sleep cycle. Waking up then will leave you groggy and feeling like you have slept poorly.

Consistent snoozing also conditions the brain to assume that the alarm noise means “just sleep a few more minutes” and not “it’s time to get up.” Avoid the evil temptation of the “snooze” button. Roll out of bed as soon as you hear the alarm. Trust me, it does get easier as time goes on.

REM Cycles

Breakdown of typical REM cycles during sleep.

Sleep operates in cycles. Waking up within the start, or the middle of a cycle can cause drowsiness and a general feeling of lethargy. That is of course something you want to avoid.

There are phone apps available and websites that calculate the optimal time to wake up. This can help minimize the feeling of sleepiness in the morning. Just input the approximate time of when you are going to sleep and the software will give you the optimal time to wake up.

Of course this is not the perfect solution to your morning problems, but it can be useful.

Hydrate

Hydration is essential in keeping your body functioning properly. In fact, being properly hydrated not only helps boost your well-being, but can also increase productivity by up-to 14%.

Being well-hydrated is said to mitigate stress as well as anxiety. This can help keep you concentrated with the task at hand. Have a glass of water by your workstation at all times and sip on it.

Skip all the sugary beverages. They are full of empty calories and can do you more harm than good. If you want additional flavor in your water, consider trowing in a few lemon wedges or a cucumber slice.

Get the Blood Pumping

Exercising can lead to an incredibly productive day.

A lot of folks avoid this almost alien concept called “exercise”. If it’s ever brought up in a conversation, excuses soon follow as to why so-and-so is unable to exercise. Let’s face it, being active is good for us and our productivity.

You don’t have to become a gym rat and I am not asking you to fork out money on an expensive gym membership. There are great ways to stay active without breaking the bank. Running, hiking, yoga, and other activities can be done with minimal equipment.

Ready Yourself For the Day

Whether you work from home or commute to the office daily, clean yourself up and get ready to take on the day. One big mistake that a lot of people make, especially the ones working from home is that they just forgo this step entirely.

Just because you don’t have to go to the office or meet other people today, doesn’t excuse you from lounging around in sweatpants all day. This may sound like a drag, but start each day as if you were going to the office. 

Going through this process is especially important for those working from home. Readying yourself for the day helps wake your brain up and get it prepared to take on the days challenges. Don’t succumb to the life of a slob even if you’re not obligated to leave the house.

For the some of you out there who are not morning people, take a cold shower to shock the senses into waking up.

Clean Up the Mess

Reduce clutter and increase productivity

Your work space may need some tidying up. For the tidy folks out there this doesn’t apply to you, but if your work station looks like a pig sty, it’s time to do something about it.

Before settling down at your desk – or any other work area – make sure it’s a reasonably clean work environment. Clutter can lead to unnecessary distractions and additional stress which in turn can negatively impact your work productivity.

Set Daily Goals

Having aspirations in your daily regiment is a good thing. It gives you a sense of control and allows you to track accomplishments. Goals are important in all areas of life – personal as well as professional. They are there to give validity to your actions.

While creating your daily goals, make sure to specify how you will achieve the goals you have made. Doing so, will allow you to better visualize the steps you need to take in order to get the task done. In a way you’re creating a daily walk-through for yourself. Having goals and an action plan allows you to spend more time doing and less time thinking.

Here’s the thing about setting goals that you may not like…

Keep the goals you create to yourself. Avoid sharing the goals with your colleagues. I know what you’re thinking – that sharing may help the process by keeping you accountable. On the contrary. Psychologists agree that discretion increases the chance of the goals being accomplished.

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Don’t Skip Meals and Eat Healthy

Food is fuel for our bodies, which includes our brain. Skipping meals is not only unhealthy for you, but can have a negatively affect your productivity. Our brain is only about 2% of our body weight, but it consumes 20% of the total calories we take in. Be sure to make those calories count!

Incorporate quality brain food into your meals, such as avocados, blueberries, broccoli, spinach. They are full of vital vitamins and minerals to help improve cognitive function throughout the day.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is a great alternative to your regular candy bars or gummy worms. It’s packed with antioxidants and helps improve blood flow to your heart and brain.

It’s been suggested that’s it’s better to eat less but more frequently. Instead of sticking to the usual three meals throughout the day, incorporate five or six smaller ones. This has shown to help reduce insulin spikes in your blood, keeping you more productive and helps avoid irritability.

We only have one body. Be wholly aware of what you consume – after all, your productivity depends on it.

Hydrate Some More

Did I mention that you need to stay hydrated? I just want to reiterate the importance of proper hydration. Maybe that’s why so many people flock to the water-cooler – they all know just how vital it is to drink water throughout the day. You should do the same.

Take More Breaks

Take breaks throughout your day.

Now this point may sound counter-intuitive, but taking more breaks has proven to increase workers productivity. This may vary from workplace to workplace, but if you’re able to do so, take short but frequent breaks.

There are a variety of formulas suggesting how to space out your workload during the day, while incorporating breaks in-between. Avoid being sedentary for too long. Go stretch those legs around the office, or refill your water bottle.

Tools and browser extensions are out there that help segment your work and breaks throughout the day. Have a look and see if they are of any use to you.

Disconnect Yourself From Distractions

I think it’s safe to say that we all succumb to distractions every once in a while. Distractions may come in different shapes and sizes and we all react differently to them.

In order to stay productive throughout the day, you want to minimize the risk of coming across anything that’s unrelated to the task at hand. Work environment plays a big role in eliminating distractions – or perhaps even creating them.

Whether you’re working in an office or from home, you will encounter powerful forces that will fight for your attention. Relentless bombardment of irrelevant videos, memes, sounds, and smells can waste considerable amount of time each week.

The key is to understand what and who distracts you and distance yourself from those things. Usually the big culprit here is the internet and it’s bountiful content library.

Child-locks exist on video game consoles and TV’s that prevent minors from accessing some mature content. The same methodology can be applied to your internet browsing habits. Lock away those distractions. Software is available that locks specific websites which may bear the brunt of your distractions.

Also put away your phone. If you don’t need to use the phone for work, then turn on “airplane mode” for a little bit. Keep the buzzing and ringing to a minimum while you work; this will also prevent you from getting sucked into the social media void.

I like to listen to some music as I work. You may also wish to try that to help drown out some less-than-pleasing noises around your work station. If you go this route, try and stick to songs that don’t contain any lyrics. Ambient noises are a good choice or perhaps some jazz may be more up your alley.

Unwind and Reduce Stress

Take time to unwind after a long day.

After a long day you deserve to kick back and relax. Constant stresses associated with every-day life exhaust even the strongest individuals. We all may strive to deal with responsibilities as efficiently as possible but at the end of the day, we all need some time to unwind.

The process of unwinding helps turn the pressure release valve in our bodies. Relaxation is proven to help maintain psychological and physical heath. Although it may be easier said than done, it’s essential to help keep us on an even keel.

If you haven’t already done so, get a hobby. Hobbies are a good way to shift your focus off of the stress inducers and a way to recharge your batteries. Having hobbies can also enhance your social life and help forge new friendships along the way.

Listening to music and reading has also been proven to alleviate stress and reduce anxiety in individuals. Next time, instead of slumping down on the couch in front of the TV, pick up a book or listen to your favorite playlist and relax.

Mitigating stress and letting the body relax is an effective way to boost productivity.

Quality Sleep

Treat yourself to a quality nights sleep.

When we were kids, we all dreaded the approaching bedtime. “Just 5 more minutes” was probably the default response when being coerced to go to bed. On the other hand when you’re an adult, things become a bit different.

1 in 3 adults in the US is sleep deprived. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a multitude of health issues and even reduce your productivity.

A Harvard University study has estimated that sleep deprivation is attributed to over $63 billion in lost productivity. Take that into consideration when you’re contemplating whether or not to burn the midnight oil.

7 – 8 hours is a recommended amount of sleep one should get every night. I also would advise you to invest in a quality mattress. You spend almost a third of your life sleeping, so if your budget allows you, don’t be cheap when it comes to your mattress.

Putting All This Into Practice

You’re probably struggling with staying productive during the day. Why else would you read this blog?

To get the most out of your day, you may need to incorporate changes into your life. There is a saying – “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This can very well apply to your fleeting productivity.

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