We’ve all been there — those magical days when flow happens. You cross items off your to-do list with seeming ease. Other days, you might glance at the clock at 5:00 p.m. and find that you have accomplished nothing. The trick is capturing more flow days, and your habits make a huge difference. You can’t prevent every delay. However, adding these eight essential elements of a productive day routine to your lifestyle will increase your odds of getting ahead of schedule and feeling accomplished.
You don’t necessarily need to get up with the roosters to have a productive day. Science now suggests that the brains of night owls demonstrate lower connectivity levels during the typical workday — explaining why they can burn the midnight oil but seem sleepy at lunch. If you have the privilege of setting your schedule, by all means, make it work with your natural biorhythms.
However, according to the sleep experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maintaining a regular bedtime and waking up at roughly the same hour is essential for sound rest. Therefore, you’re still better off using an alarm clock until and unless you get your rhythms down.
The best kind doesn’t serve as a nightstand Torquemada, torturing you with how many (or few) hours you have left in glaring red neon. Instead, opt for a wind-up model that doesn’t bathe you in an electronic glow.
Exercising in the morning offers multiple benefits. One of the most significant is that you get it done and out of the way before the craziness of daily life can leave you using the “I’m too busy to work out” excuse.
Some people consider their morning run their coffee, and if that works for you, go for it. However, even if you plan to hit a Zumba class after work, you can perform some gentle yoga stretches in bed to get your blood flowing to your brain cells.
After going hours without eating while you slept, your body needs fresh glucose stores to power you through your day. People with diabetes may need to keep their blood sugar stable to make it through the morning.
The best breakfasts contain plenty of lean protein to keep you sated until lunch. Eggs and nuts are wise choices. Many non-dairy milks like cashew and almond likewise have healthy protein levels.
You can waste your most productive working minutes in the morning figuring out which task to tackle first. Instead, get a daily planner. It doesn’t matter if you use an app or a paper model, as long as you write a to-do list for each day. That way, you only need to consult it when you sit down at your desk.
Productivity experts recommend eating your frog by scheduling your most onerous task early when you have the most energy. Once you knock that bad boy off your list, the rest of your day will seem easy-peasy — or at least less burdensome.
If you decided to make your work-from-home pandemic situation permanent, please create a distraction-free workplace asap. If you don’t have a dedicated home office with a closed door, designate a special “thinking cap,” or hang a sports coat on the back of your chair to signify that you shouldn’t be disturbed unless someone is bleeding.
If you’ve returned to the office, and your colleagues distract you, seek solutions. A pair of noise-canceling headphones can prove invaluable if the din of heels or water-cooler chatter takes you off-task.
What does a tomato have to do with productivity? Nothing, other than it was the shape of the timer used to invent the Pomodoro method, a proven productivity technique.
Human beings weren’t meant to work nonstop. This technique has you working on-task for 25 minutes straight, then taking a 5-minute break. After three “Pomodoros” or such work sessions, you take a longer rest of 15 to 30 minutes.
This method is a crucial part of a productive day routine if you work from home. Otherwise, you could continue until your attention begins to wander, causing careless mistakes.
Do you often suffer from the 3 p.m. doldrums? If so, use one of your Pomodoro breaks to take a brisk walk. If possible, do so outside — the fresh air and sunshine will likewise improve your mental state.
Movement gets the blood flowing to your neurons. If you find yourself stuck on a seemingly unsolvable problem, try going for a stroll.
How you end each day matters. Before leaving the office, write your to-do list for the following day so that you are ready to get right to business in the morning.
If you work outside the home, your commute can serve as your wind-down. Tune into an encouraging podcast on your drive to uplift you. Better yet, commute by bike if you live close to the office and get your exercise fix while lowering your cortisol levels from the day’s stress.
A wind-down routine is critical if you work from home. Otherwise, your work day and family time can begin to overlap. You might go for a walk with your kids, followed by a snack or sneak in quick yoga practice.
Introducing these eight essential elements of a productive day routine into your lifestyle will improve your chances of arriving at 5:00 p.m. feeling satisfied. Make it your goal to get a little better and more efficient each day.