4 Simple Tips for Productivity: Get More Done in Your Day
There's a popular saying, "you have as many hours in a day as insert your favorite celebrity's name." Yet so many of us still feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. Our society is always go, go, go. There's a push that busyness equates to success. However, being busy for the sake of impression isn't worthwhile if you aren't actually accomplishing anything. Constantly feeling like you're running around in circles isn't doing anyone, least of all you, any favors.
Organization and daily routines are key to being productive. I'm a big believer in the KISS method: Keep It Simple Silly. Too often people like to overcomplicate things and get so hung up on the details, that they end up not getting anything done. In my experience, simplicity is best. The following four tips are common sense ideas that anyone can implement in their lives. They are simple, easy, and will help you have a better, more productive day.
1. Have a Solid Morning Routine
A good morning sets you up to have a productive day, and it all starts with a solid morning routine that works for you, not against you. This can easily be designated as your time if you allow it.
To create a routine you can stick with, consider the following:
- If you are heading to work each day, what time do you need to be out the door?
- If you have a busy household, what time is everyone getting up and how much time each morning do you need to devote to helping everyone else get ready for their day?
- What do you want to accomplish each morning? Will this be your time to workout, practice yoga, or meditate? Do you want to read a book? Catch up with the news? Do some writing? Do you just want a little silence to savor your coffee?
Once you have a goal in mind for your morning, you can start allotting time to make it happen. Take the chaos out of the beginning of the day by designating some tasks to your family and by tackling others ahead of time. (See Evening Routine below) Get up a little earlier than normal and before everyone else in your household gets up. Resist the urge to check your phone. Social media and emails can wait. Enjoy your coffee, get your workout in, do a little yoga, meditate, read, or do a little writing. Whatever it is that you want to get done, but never seem to have the time. If getting up earlier is a struggle, start with 15 - 20 minute increments until you reach your preferred wake up time.
Over the past several years, I have tailored my mornings to be my 'me time.' I get up early to see my husband off to work. I make sure he has everything he needs and if it's cold, I'll even go out and start the car. This is my time to watch the news and drink my coffee. After he's at work, I have at least an hour or two before my son gets up. This is my time to workout. During the school year, we're so busy that if I don't get my workout done in the morning, it doesn't happen. I've found that on the days when I don't get it in, I'm cranky and tired. I've tailored my body to expect exercise each morning, and I'm a better mom and wife for getting it in each day. Over summer break, I have a little extra wiggle room, but if I want to get other things done during the day, I know I have to stick to my typical routine.
20 Life-Changing Things To Do in the Morning - Amy Landino
2. Create A To-Do List
A simple tip often overlooked is the famous to-do list. It might seem silly, but having a list to refer to helps organize your thoughts and keeps you on task. If it's written down, you aren't going to forget to get it done. Plus, it's incredibly satisfying to be able to cross tasks off as you complete them.
I'm a fan of physically writing out my lists. I have a big box of index cards and special pens specifically for this purpose. If you are more of an on-the-go type person or if writing your list out just isn't practical, you could easily create a note on your phone or use a computer program to keep your tasks organized and on hand.
I create lists for different areas of my life. I have a master to-do list where I put every task that needs completed during the week. If it's a pay week, I write out the total amount being deposited into my bank account and then designate money to go into different savings accounts for bills. I also allocate money for savings and budget out the rest for everyday living expenses. This is a great way to stay on top of your finances. In addition, I create a list of yoga poses that I need to photograph daily to keep track of the challenges I participate in on Instagram.
Before your week starts, take a little time to sit and plan out what needs done. Add it to your list. Then each evening before you wind down or first thing in the morning over coffee, review your list. Decide what needs done today and be sure to cross it off or delete the task once you complete it. During the week, add new tasks as necessary. This is helpful for everyday household chores, if you're working from home, if you are going back to school, keeping track of your kids' activities, and depending on your field, if you are back at work. Having a to-do list will keep you organized, on track, and ensure that you never forget anything.
3. Keep a Calendar
Equally important to having a to-do list is keeping a calendar. Having a place to write down all your important events will ensure that you stay organized and on top of everything that needs done. This is essential for busy families. Keep a calendar in an area of your house where everyone will be able to see it. Write down all your important events, whether it's your kids' school activities, work commitments, or parties and get-togethers you need to attend.
This is also a great idea for those who work from home or for those who have kids attending online school. You could keep a physical desk calendar or use a service like Google Calendar.
I have a family calendar hanging up in my kitchen. I add in my son's important school dates like holiday breaks, live lessons, scheduled calls with his teachers, and so on. I also have my husband write down days he is scheduled to work overtime or if he has extra trainings. Parties and special events we want to attend are also added to the calendar.
Because my son attends an online school, it's vital that we stay organized. He has his own planner that doubles as a to-do list and calendar that helps him stay on track with daily and weekly tasks. He also has a physical calendar that he likes to add his special events to in his school area of the house.
ORGANIZATION Tips | Calendar Planning | Block Scheduling | Prioritizing - Tracy Hensel
4. An Evening Routine to Set You Up for Success
Just as a morning routine sets you up for a productive day, a good evening routine helps you wind down and relax for a restful night of sleep. It can also help you have a better morning the next day.
Cut out the chaos mornings can bring by tackling certain tasks.
- Pack lunches and get drinks ready to go for the next day.
- Set up your coffee maker to have your coffee ready when you wake up.
- Lay out your clothes and/or your kids clothes for the next day.
- Make sure keys, ID's, purses, masks, book bags, and anything you may need before you walk out the door is ready to go in a designated area.
- Clean up any messes or piles of clutter.
- Write and/or review your to-do list for the next day.
Once all that is taken care of, consider what time you need to be up in the morning. Make sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable hour in order to get enough sleep. This is especially important if you are getting up early to take advantage of a new, more productive morning routine. Once you get in bed, resist the temptation to scroll social media, Pinterest, or watch YouTube. Instead, try:
- Reading a book
- A gratitude practice, mentally or physically writing down what you are grateful for that day.
My evening routine looks a lot like the suggestions above. I get everything set up the night before: I make my husband's lunch, set up my coffee pot, and during the school year, make sure everything is ready to go. I also write out and review my to-do list. My son starts getting ready for bed about ten minutes before our designated bedtime. Once he's tucked in, I read for an hour before falling asleep. Reading helps me wind down from the day and relax. Knowing my coffee is waiting in the morning helps me crawl out of bed and takes the sting out of the early wake up call.