When it boils down to it, there are no secrets to being productive at all. The concepts are simple and straight forward. In fact, many of us know them already. Despite this we continuously fail to remember them in the heat of the moment. Before we know it, we’re groaning about how we’re not getting anything done, life is without purpose, we never have any time to do what we want, etc etc. At least, it happens to me!
Whilst the concepts are simple, the execution at times can be quite difficult. As soon as you wake up, you’re bombarded with distraction and it does not let up until you’re ready to go to bed at the end of the day. Even at that stage our minds are usually racing so much with a multitude of thoughts that many of us have difficulty getting a decent night sleep.
With this all in mind, I thought I would come up with a few (not so) secret actions you can take to ensure you have a productive day. If you can work any (or all!) of these into your daily routine, the results will be absolutely dramatic.
PREPPING THE NIGHT BEFORE
Give yourself 5 minutes the day before, just before bed, to plan ahead. Plan your day (pen and paper!) and also plant the seeds mindfully in thought to ensure you’re waking up with clarity and knowing how your day will look.
Allocate realistic time blocks throughout the day (ie: between 10am and 11am I will do nothing but work on a specific outstanding task). These time blocks must be made with the strict rules that there are virtually no exceptions. This helps to ensure that there are no opportunities of distraction and all other tasks and requests (unless life threatening) can wait. Whatever you do though, don’t go back-to-back with your tasks. Give yourself breaks and leeway between each one. No need to burn yourself out.
KEEP IT SHORT AND TO THE POINT
Don’t overdo it. A short list is better than a long list. It’s great to be enthusiastic and write a page or more of things you want to tick off for the day, but this is a marathon, not a sprint! The last thing you want to do is become overwhelmed and find yourself with a number of incomplete tasks at the end of the day. Not good for peace of mind! Start small and set yourself up to win. With that being said however…
THE ONE THING
Don’t always lean towards the easy items. Use the rule that is outlined in the book ‘The One Thing‘ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan which is “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”. Having 3 or 4 purposeful items will have far more of an impact than 20 things that are easy and only give short term satisfaction for that day only.
MEDITATE AND CLEAR THE MIND
This highly underrated practice is being picked up by more and more people. Start with 5 to 10 minutes in the morning, each day (Recommendations – Sam Harris and Headspace App). By allowing a few minutes of meditation, this will help establish focus for the day. It will also reduce the chances of dramatically being impacted by distraction and finding yourself in auto pilot. It can also be a great relaxant, especially when you have some challenge tasks or experiences ahead.