how to be productive - DAILY TOP ROUTINES
What is the main obstacle to productivity? Simply put, laziness. Laziness is physical and mental sluggishness, personal inertia. It can result from many things, but above all from the lack of will, and from the bad condition of your mind and body. About all these things you can take definite steps so that you can stay productive on a regular and sustainable basis.
Handling complexities of daily work
There have been days when I had that strong feeling that I’m overreaching myself with my tasks and goals for the day. Constantly changing my mind, adapting to circumstances, shifting priorities, creating complex solutions to challenges - I’ve always thought that I might have to extend my work hours or focus more to achieve ultimate productivity, but the truth is… life is not just about work, and when we do work, we should be working smart, and not long.
We’re human beings and not robots, for god’s sake, so it’s not possible for anyone who is normal in their minds to be highly focused, productive and motivated for 8 hours straight or more. Our mental capability varies throughout the day and doing overtime doesn’t make you more effective. You just drain yourself. So how do you stay productive and focused. What does it mean to boos productivity?
time management increases personal productivity
Let me just make this clear. I’m all about being productive and active. But I have to admit that the modern, fast-paced way of living doesn't make most people happy. Aggressive pursuit of career goals, exposure to endless advertising and news doesn’t make you happy in any way. So I do plead for taking your time, being in the moment, pausing and enjoying the small things in life. Just bear that in mind.
So, what’s the best way to stay productive? Time management is your personal responsibility. Even as an employee you’ll be expected to get your stuff done and no one will be looking constantly over your shoulder. So it comes down to personal attitude first. Being productive requires far more than just having a plan. Your whole character and attitude has to improve if you want to stay on top of things.
It’s important that you really really want the improvement, to be at your best and to optimize your life and work where this is necessary. You have to have that internal motivation to pursue the right mindset. Laziness is a habit, but so is productivity. You can train your brain to be more pro-active and productive. And after a certain period of time you will see a change in your behaviour.
First, whether you’re employed or self-employed, it’s crucial how you start your day. Now let me guess, after you wake up you probably grab your cellphone, right? Wrong start! Take your time to ease into the day. Decide the impulses that you want to take in, not what the world throws at you on your smartphone straight after waking up.
Take your time. Get up and do your morning routine while picking your desired attitude. “I can make it”. “The day will be great”. “I’m gonna master all the challenges today.” That’s the kind of self-talk you want to have with yourself. You need to start having the right mindset that builds you up and prepares you for a productivity boost. And you decide your mindset.
It’s not a little thing. Everything you do and how you act is based on your attitude in the moment, the way you’re feeling and how you understand your environment. You can be conscious of that, or unconscious. So be careful what you put into your mind the first thing in the morning. Let that cellphone wait a bit. It won’t run away. Instead, fuel your mind with reading a chapter in a book or meditate.
have to-do lists to stay productive
The next thing you can do to increase your productivity (and what I do for the day) is to have a to-do list. You can of course have many to-do lists, but the more you have, the more likely you will feel overwhelmed and eventually you won’t be able to complete your many to-do lists. Keep your list short and simple. You’ll be updating it as you go along, but the feeling of accomplishing even the simplest task will make you feel much better. So don’t get overwhelmed.
A major realisation I had from having to-do lists was that one bullet point on my list might actually have several sub-tasks that I need to complete before I can finally eliminate the bullet point. It’s been so many times that I thought I could start and finish a task, and then realized it would actually take more time because there was more to do than initially expected.
That’s what happens if you don’t break down your tasks in enough detail and just put some generic descriptions. So here’s my tip for you: think about your tasks in more depth, even if they seem simple, and see if you can discover little sub-tasks that might take more of your time than you initially expected.
I can give you a specific example: I used to write ‘video editing’ in my to-do list as a bullet point. Then in practice I realised this task is not just about editing a video. There will be more time required than just simple editing. The video needs to be rendered as a file which can take maybe 1 or 2 hours sometimes. Then I need to upload it to Youtube which can take another 10, 15, 20 minutes depending on the length of the video.
But even then I’m not finished, because a video needs also a title and description, perhaps I want to include some relevant links, and add good tags to make the video searchable on Youtube. This might require a quick research on tags which can take even more time than previously expected. Once I completed all this, then I can cross out the bullet point ‘video editing’ which, it turns out, included far more than just editing.
So if I wanted to estimate more clearly the scope of the whole task, I could have broken it down into something like this: video editing, video rendering, video upload - 3 tasks instead of one. That’s my advice to you: be more specific about what your task actually implies and check if it is really that quick and simple. Don’t underestimate the scope.
have regular meals
Another thing to consider is that it’s very easy to forget the meals during your work. It’s important to have your breakfast, lunch and dinner, and some healthy snacks in between. And it’s foolish to skip your main meals only because you are invested in your tasks and projects so passionately. Yes, it’s good you love what you do. But with a neglected body your mind won’t be able to continue for long and your productivity levels will decrease. With an empty stomach you’ll be making mistakes, will feel weak and this will have a bad impact on your mood. And you can’t work productively in a bad mood.
Take care of your body, have your meals. I understand sometimes it’s impossible to plan it, emergencies happen or we lose track of time. That’s fine. Just don’t make a habit out of it. Nourish your body and eat regularly. I haven’t used to cook for quite a long time. But now I’m pretty efficient with preparing my meals, so I take my time for the lunch preparation which offers a welcome change during the day.
Also, eat healthy food and in moderation. If you eat much and eat really badly, your intestines will attract the bad type of microbes that basically live inside you and influence your body. Bad microbes and internal inflammations will have a terrible effect on your inner wellbeing and will be slowing you down. As a result it will also be slowing down your mind, because at the end of the day the working of your mind has a biological basis, and the health of your own body will influence your mental capacity. I’m not a nutrition expert, but I can tell you that much about food. Take a note.
exercise regularly to boost productivity
Another important thing is to exercise. I’m not talking about becoming a body-builder or doing it for aesthetics, although that’s also a great goal to have. I’m talking about keeping your body healthy by putting a positive stress on it regularly through exercises so that it stays fit and in motion. In the same way as you have to train muscles to grow strength, you have to train your bodily health to stay mentally fit and effective with your productivity goals. And you can train at home. You don’t need an expensive gym membership. There’s lots of great and free Youtube exercise videos for home, try them out and discover what fits you best.
As non-robots we do have physical, emotional and mental needs and you can’t just push a button in our head and make us run efficiently without a break for 12 hours. So you need breaks. Divide your day into work slots, let’s say one slot is 2 hours, and then after that slot you take a break, 20 minutes. Have a coffee, eat some snacks, talk to someone, just relax for a bit. And then repeat. After another 2 hours it’s lunch time. Have your lunch break, eat well, have fun and go for another 2-hour session. Then it’s already afternoon time.
By alternating between work and breaks you can go through the day pretty smoothly. Don’t just run blindly like a bull through your tasks trying to force your way. Give your day a rhythm that alternates between work and break, high-focus and low-focus, high-performance, and spacing out. That’s how you can make a long work day bearable, much more enjoyable and sustainable. Remember, you’re not a robot. You’re a living tissue!
realisation about being productive
Being productive and achieving your goals has to do with you as a person, so the person that is you must be good enough if you want to be productive. It’s not about the numbers in the first place. It’s about the mindset, and also it’s an inner decision you make that you want to be productive and insist on it. If you really want to do things right and be at your best, then you really need to identify the level of your body fitness and your mental attitude, your way of thinking, and work on them. As you can see, it’s all about personal optimisation at the end. Don’t be just yourself. Be your better self.
To sum it up again: make sure you have a constructive mindset that motivates you to be your better self. Have a detailed to-do list in which you identify your main tasks and sub-tasks. Put some thought into it. Have your regular meals throughout the day. Nourish your body. Eat healthily and in moderation. Exercise regularly for the sake of physical and mental fitness. Finally, take regular breaks and alternate between high-performance and relaxation to keep on moving through the day.
And please bear in mind that electronic light tires your eyes and keeps your brain awake in the evening. If you really want to ease out into the night, I recommend putting all your devices aside half an hour before going to sleep. Just saying.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this helpful. See you in the next one.