My friends often ask me this question, “How do you get everything done? How do you do it? Do you sleep?”
My answer is: “Yes, I get about 7 hours a day if my little one doesn’t wake me up in the middle of the night.“
If you have a lot to manage, say a business, two jobs, several children, or other responsibilities you absolutely cannot delegate, then you really need to be aware of your habits, because some of them are better than others.
The formula of just putting more hours in simply doesn’t work. It is not about working harder, it is about working smarter that will lift your game.
I love to learn about different tips & tools on productivity and I have been “collecting” and “testing” them over the years. What I’ve learned is that you may actually need to modify those tools or habits to make them work for you, instead of the other way round.
For example, if you are a night owl and hate the mornings, or you work late at night, you may find planning the night before you go to bed works better than planning your day first thing in the morning when you wake up.
I’d suggest you give my suggestions a try first, and then consider what modifications you may need to add more clarity or energy for you. Make them your own!
So, here are my Top 5 Easy-To-Do Habits to Skyrock Your Productivity:
Plan your day ahead
A wise one said: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail“. Let’s say we don’t need to be this dramatic, but I believe in planning ahead so that I am clear about what I need to do for the day, and through consistent daily actions, I know I am moving closer to my goals.
Here is what I normally do. In the morning, within 30 mins upon rising, I craft out some quiet time alone and use my daily planner to plan my day ahead. I look at my weekly planner first to see my appointments or calls for the day and my must-do list. Then, I simply move the items and allocate them over to my day planner, I also add notes such as “bring gym bag” or “mention my vacation” at the 1 pm call.
My daily planner has a little section for self-reflection and I use it to put down a few thoughts or things that I am grateful for. It takes about 5-10 mins each morning to do this, but I get really clear about what I need to do for the rest of the day. I feel more in control and if I need to make changes, it is also very easy to see if it can work or not.
Now, my weekly planner is where I put all my calls, meetings, appointments and events. Don’t think it is all complicated, it is not. Keep everything simple and to the point. Once you start doing this, you will realise it is actually very easy to do.
Sidenote: I like early mornings because it is quiet. I often stretch for a few minutes while waiting for my tea to brew. Then, I take about 10-15 to do a short meditation. I love my ritual because it makes me feel good and centred. I have a clear mind as I have haven’t been interrupted by the world of news or social media. I then plan my day ahead because this is the time I feel I am at my best to really think about what really matters to me and if things don’t quality to my must-do list, they just got to go!
Make sure you DO NOT look at your phone or emails BEFORE you do this. You need a clear mind and focus on YOUR day, not what everyone else is trying to tell you or ask from you.
Break it down
Be specific with your tasks and start your sentence with a verb, not a noun. On your day planner, where you list your must-dos for the day, instead of writing “Marketing Plan”, break it down to the actual tasks such as “Schedule 3 x FB post” or “Find 5 x images for Instagram Ads”. There is a lot of research suggest that you have a much higher chance to complete your tasks with this simple tweak. You also have a much better estimation of how long each of these tasks will take. There is nothing more frustrating and discouraging than keep on pushing the timeline for the tasks because you cannot complete those tasks day after day.
Group your tasks together if they share a common location or nature. Think about going for errands in town and getting your hair cut vs. revise your business proposal and draft your cover letter. You really don’t need to go to the city for two days in a row, do you? Batch your appointments or tasks together if possible.
This may make you uncomfortable but this is a gold mine. Track what you spend time on for a week and there will be big some revelations for you. Be very honest, find out what are your time wasters and swop them for something better. If you wait in line a lot, try to make a conscious effort to listen to your audio book or make the phone calls that you need to. This exercise will also help you to learn to batch your tasks together because you can see a pattern.
You don’t have to do this every week, you just need to know your habits better and figure out where you can improve. Perhaps do it occasionally once you have implemented and sustained some new habits. Also, you don’t need to use sophisticated app or spreadsheet to do it, keep it simple and don’t spend too much time on auditing your time!
Social Media: Everything in Moderation
If you are not working as a social media campaign manager, then there is really no need to be checking your channels every 5 mins, or first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Research has shown that too much screen time before bed will affect the quality of our sleep. Think about this, if you come across something worries or trouble you, just before you close your eyes to sleep, what are the chances that you will have some sweet dreams?
Find the gaps in your day that you can browse your social media channels, say when you wait in line? Try to avoid browsing frequently and habitually and especially when you are supposed to work on a task that needs your full concentration, so don’t use Social Media as a way to procrastinate or distract your mind. Make a mindful effort to put away your phone or switch to flight mode or turn off your notifications.
Oh wait, there is more!
Productivity Magic Part 2 – How to do LESS but achieve MORE!
Once I started this blog, I realised there are so much I want to share with you, and therefore I will do a follow-up blog that is about how to improve your concentration and working memory, in which will improve productivity and quality of your work and life. What I share with you are evidence-based and personally tested so I know they worked for me as well as others. So stay tuned and watch out for the Productivity Magic Part 2 – How to do LESS but achieve MORE!
Tell me how you find these 5 habits! Share with me in the comments below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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