Banish brain fog, increase energy, and fine tune focus with these proven ways to have a productive day.
1. Set a sleep routine and stick to it.
Maybe you're a weekend warrior or just have a bad habit of breaking your bedtime. You probably think a few late nights a week aren't harmful, but that night owl behavior could be impacting how productive you are each day. Missing sleep isn't like skipping exercise or having a cheap meal, which you can make up for later on. Missing sleep sticks with you, even if you spend your whole Saturday recovering in bed.
Try to get a solid seven to nine hours each night and don't deviate too far from your normal schedule. That means hitting the sack and waking up around the same time each day. The best way to do that? Follow a routine that begins prepping your body for sleep hours before you turn in. Start about six hours before by cutting out caffeine; at the three- to two-hour mark stop eating, drinking, and exercising; and an hour before you'll want to shut down electronics and halt stressful activities like doing work or paying bills.
2. Plan your day before it starts.
Getting started is a lot harder when you don't know what to do. Overcome that common morning confusion by creating a chronological to-do list the day before. Rank tasks by importance, and list the most difficult or pressing projects first. Since we are most creative in the morning, that's a great time to get your most complex work done. As the day dwindles, schedule responsibilities that require less thought, like responding to emails--or writing up tomorrow's to-do list. You'll conquer more when you prioritize, and you'll also spend less time transitioning from one project to the next.
3. Schedule exercise into each day, even if you have only five minutes to spare.
If you're avoiding exercising because you're too tired or too busy, you're doing yourself a disservice. Even just a few minutes of exercise a day can give you more energy and strengthen your endurance. People that regularly engage in physical activity experience improved cardiovascular performance by delivering oxygen and nutrients to their tissue. When you're breathing better, you're feeling better and are able to do more without getting fatigued.
4. Take a cold shower.
Swap out your steamy hot shower for a cold wake-up call in the morning. The benefits of submerging yourself in icy temperature include increased adrenaline, boost in mood, decrease in tension and better memory--a lot more than a cup of coffee can do. But if science isn't solid enough evidence for you, know that cold showers also have somewhat of a cult following. From pro athletes, like LeBron James, who seek the muscle-soothing effects to actresses, like Miranda Kerr, who turn down the heat for better skin and shinier hair, cold showers are a cheap remedy for body and mind.
5. Eat a well-balanced breakfast.
Skipping breakfast is as bad as Mom told you. Without it, you'll have difficulty focusing throughout the day and your energy levels will be drastically lower. Make sure you start your day with a balanced meal that will keep you full and sustained. If you're short on time or hate eating heavy first thing in the morning, a smoothie is the perfect solution. My personal favorite is a concoction I refer to as the "Brain Blend" because of its anti-inflammatory and brain-boosting ingredients. Filled with nutrient fruits like orange and blueberries, healthy fats from peanut butter and MCT oil, and folic acid rich spinach, this smoothie is sure to make every day a productive one.