Everyone wants to have a more productive day. It doesn't matter if you're a stay at home parent or the CEO of a major corporation - having a day when you get things done is a great feeling.
Fortunately, there are 10 tweaks to your daily routine that will make your day more productive. Even better, they're all ridiculously easy to do, and you can start them today.
- Get Up Earlier. Just accept it. Your parents might have started this argument back when you were in high school, but it ends here. Waking up earlier - and on a consistent basis - gives you the entire day. Seriously. If you wake up at 7:20 and have to be in your office at 8:00, what's your morning going to be like? A rushed, chaotic, stressed-out mess. And what does that mean the rest of your day is going to be? You guessed it - a rushed, chaotic, stressed-out mess. Start yourself with a 30 day 6AM challenge and see how good you feel at the end of it.
- Add Exercise to Your Day. You might not want to accept it, but exercise may actually make you a better worker. Researchers at the University of Bristol found that workers who exercised felt more satisfied with their day. Even better? You don't need to start marathon training. Their research found that there was no difference in duration or intensity of workouts - so no, you really don't have an excuse.
- Skip the Carb-o-Loaded Breakfast. We may have been taught that a big bowl of oatmeal along with wheat toast and tall glass of juice was the right way to start the day, but you're really just slowing yourself down - physically as well as mentally. The sluggish, physical effects of a carb-heavy breakfast are just the start; many people experience some kind of cognitive effects, too. Go for an omelette instead, or a smoothie loaded with some fat-packed Greek yogurt.
- Hack Your Commute. Do you have at least 30 minutes that you're spending getting to work? Here's something amazing about that once gloomy time sink. 30 minutes one way adds up to 300 hours a week - that's a lot that you could be doing. Look into books on CD, podcasts, language discs, anything that you can load onto your mp3 player, smart phone, or into your car, and start listening.
- Start Your Work Day with a Bang. Don't schedule your work day with the tiniest or easiest things that need doing and work your way up to the Big Bad Nasties of your day. Start big - tackle the whale. Leave the little things for after the really big stuff has been done. Not only will getting that big project done first feel awesome, but it will leave the rest of your day open for knocking out more small tasks at an impressive rate.
- Take Effective Breaks. For those who love starting at 9 and going all the way to 5 with nothing in-between, this might be a tough pill to swallow. But, it's the real deal. Taking breaks is going to make you a better worker. Not only is it better for your body to physically get out of that desk chair, but getting some stretch for your mind means a little breathing time between projects and tasks, so that when you come back to it, you're able to tackle it anew. The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to break into, well, break taking.
- Learn to Say No. If you've already prioritized your day and know what needs to be done, but have that oneperson in the office who's going to come in and ask a favor... you're going to have to say no. Not only does taking on extra work stand in the way of you getting your own work done, but it's more likely to add extra stress to your workday. Unless getting it done is going to somehow actually advance your career, just say "No."
- No More Zero Days. Make a to-do list and put three things on it. Nothing particularly big, just three things that need to get done. Regardless of what happens that day, make sure those three things happen. From now on, you're running a life where you make things happen. You don't have days of just lounging around - you plan, you do, you conquer.
- Delegate Your Home Life. If you find yourself struggling to come home to monumental piles of dishes, or dust bunnies in every corner that are hiding from the mold growing on your shower grout... you should consider hiring some additional help. Having a weekly or even monthly cleaning crew to come in and take care of that portion of your life can do amazing things to reduce the stress in the rest of your world.
- Discover Your Distractions and Tame Them. Are you regularly opening up new tabs to check Facebook or Reddit? Constantly pulling out your phone to text someone or scroll through your Twitter feed? How about getting to the end of the week and kicking yourself because you can't remember half the ideas you came up with while you were at work? Learn what distractions you have and stop them from happening. At work, install extensions like Cold Turkey to block social media sites. Leave your phone in your car, or keep it off and in a locked drawer. Have a notebook by your desk that you can scribble in during the day, then review later on.
All of these tools will help you redirect your focus and attention back to the task at hand, and lead you to living a more productive life - no matter what life that is.