How often do you wake up feeling stressed out and overwhelmed? Do you feel like your life is completely out of control? Are you drowning in mail both in your inbox and on top of your desk?
What if you could wake up each day feeling in control, calm, and organized? If you felt focused and in control, how would that look?
Do you believe you could be more successful if you could start getting things done? Would being more successful make you a happier and more peaceful person?
The first step in becoming more productive is to assess.
Ask yourself how well do you manage your time, energy and attention? Do you pick up your smartphone first thing in the morning to check email and social media? Are the more difficult tasks put off to do later when you feel like it? When is your brainpower at its strongest?
The other aspect of productivity is the motivation behind it. Why do you care about this task so deeply? Ask yourself, “why do I want to be more productive?” Then ask the five why's. Keep digging until you get to the core belief or value that you hold, this is your motivation and what will keep you going.
Sort: What currently has your attention? Think about it for a minute. What are the things you think about most? Write down everything that comes to your mind. If you have past to-do lists, pull them out and take a look. What are the recurring items? Do you cross things off? What goes undone?
Set in order: Think about each of the things you listed above. What do they mean to you? Can you identify the reason you are thinking about and spending time on each one? Use a whiteboard or mind map to get to your priorities. Then set these in order of priority. Are you checking your email first thing in the morning? Why? Is that your most important task of the day?
Shine – How can you organize? Where do the important parts go? What can you do with them? Can they be automated? Would productivity apps help you accomplish your goals? Is your workspace tidy? If you're assessing your workday, are you being reactive or proactive? Are phone calls, emails and asks from your team interrupting your workflow?
Standardize – Looking at the results of your assessment, can you spend less time in any area? Are you trying to multitask?
Sustain – When you have a system in place that you KNOW works, you trust the results. Thn it is time to sustain the system. Many people find that the Pomodoro technique helps to sharpen focus and get more done.
Using your 24 hours wisely
We all have exactly twenty-four hours in each brand new day. While it would be nice to squeeze a few more hours of productivity out of a day, we don't want to skimp on sleep or self-care.
Many people think giving up a few hours of sleep at night can make them more productive. The exact opposite is true. When you forgo sleep, you sacrifice productivity.
Make your healthy sleep schedule part of your daily routine. Setting your sleep-wake cycle will improve your mood as well as your overall health. So if your body clock is out of whack because of Covid-19, here are a few sleep tips to get you back on a regular schedule without the need to see a sleep specialist. ~ How to Get on a Better Sleep Schedule
- Prepare your sleep environment
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Plan your sleep schedule
Routines will help your sleep schedule and sleep will improve your productivity.
Think about what time of day you need to wake up. Now count back eight hours. This is your new go-to-bed time. If you need to start your day at 6 a.m., then you'll count back eight hours. Ten o'clock will be your new bedtime. Waking up will be much easier when you get a full night's sleep.
Now you can determine what to do with the other 16 hours you have left after you dedicate 1/3 of your day to sleep.
Waking Up Earlier or Staying Up Later, Not Both
You may have heard that people who wake up earlier get more done, and on some level that is true. The people who are rocking that 5:30 yoga class are not staying up till 1 a.m. working. If you want to get up early, you can't stay up late. If you're a night owl and find that you are more productive or creative at midnight, stop trying to get up early.
Yes, it's true that people who are early risers get a lot done, but the same can be said for those who stay up late. If you get inspired and motivated as the day wears on, you might consider doing your creative work during your peak performing hours. Don't think you have to get up early just because some successful people do.
One good example would be author and efficiency expert Tim Ferriss who says,
As a lifelong night owl, my stability tends to be much more under control, much more even keel when I go to bed by 11:00 p.m. ~ The Tim Ferriss Show
You know what works best for you. No two people are wired exactly the same. If you truly feel inspired and energetic at five in the morning, as I do, go for it.
Waking up early can be an excellent time to brainstorm ideas for your big project, but bad things will happen if you try to stay up late, too! So choose one, either early bird or night owl, then stick to it. Nothing good will come if you get burnout from shortchanging your sleep.
Productivity Tips for your waking hours
For those of you who put in eight or more hours per day for an employer, you'll see another third of your pie going to someone else's plate.
Looking at that pie, you'll see we have exactly one third left to do everything else; chores, eating, bathing, caring for family, etc.
I know at first glance, eight hours may seem like a good chunk of time to allot to your own needs, but keep in mind this includes time to cook, eat, shower, pay bills, and so on. Realistically, once we slice up our daily pie, the average person ends up with only a couple of hours of free time.