You wake up in the morning and wonder how you will accomplish all that needs to be done. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and you don’t know where to start.
While your schedule may be jam-packed, there are some things you can do to start the day ahead of the game. Here are tips on how to have a productive day.
1. Write your “to do” list.
A wise person once said, “The mind may forget, but the paper can remember.”
Indeed, it’s easier to keep track of our daily activities if these are written down, especially if you’re finding ways how to have a productive day. Besides, don’t you think it is truly satisfying to cross things off your list once these are finished?
So, grab a notepad and a pen, then start making a “to do” list. Do it every day. Make it a habit. You can do this first thing in the morning, or better yet — you can make a list the night before.
Try not to make it too long, though, and be sure to keep it simple, clear, and realistic!
2. Set priorities.
Scattered priorities make for scattered focus — and that’s now how to have a productive day. If you don’t set priorities, you’ll end up spending your day doing a little bit of this, then a little bit of that, and soon enough, you’ll end up having accomplished — nothing.
Setting priorities can be a little tricky, but you’ll know how to have a productive day and manage your time properly once you get it right.
I also recommend you read my other blog post to clearly define how you can classify your priorities according to importance and urgency. Click on the link below to learn more.
So, if you’re already following a to-do list, just concentrate your focus on one task at hand (the most important in your list) before you move to the next. Once you get the hang of it, completing the rest of the tasks on your list will become a lot easier.
3. Tackle the most difficult tasks first.
Look at your to-do list, and ask yourself: is there anything you would consider as difficult yet important?
If so, tackle and finish that particular task first. Once you have completed the most challenging task, you will find it easier to accomplish the easier ones.
4. Stick to a daily schedule.
Earlier, we talked about the importance of creating your to-do list and setting your priorities. But the truth is: you can’t do much with these initiatives if you can’t stick to a schedule.
Therefore, to master the art of productivity, you need to know how to allocate time wisely for your priorities. Above all, you must stick to it.
Once you have a schedule in place, don’t forget to inform your friends, family, and co-workers about it. When you make it clear to yourself and other people that you intend to follow a schedule – they will soon learn how to adjust to avoid wasting your time.
5. Establish a morning routine.
Just as important as setting goals for the next day is creating a morning routine to get you going — even if you’re not a morning person.
A morning routine is a secret weapon for boosting motivation and productivity levels. One of the best ways to make your workday more enjoyable is to start it off with a shower and a healthy breakfast. Although this may be difficult at first — with groggy mornings and an urgent need to finish work quickly — the benefits are numerous and will start to shine through immediately.
Whatever you decide to include in your routine, the main goal is to begin your day with a positive mindset.
Having a morning routine is fantastic. But it’s not enough to simply get up and start your work right away.
You need a simple mechanic for transitioning from your previous activities to your daily routine. It can be something as simple as exercising in just a few minutes or just taking a moment to appreciate the sunrise. Both will help you wake up fully and will make you feel more energetic throughout the day.
That’s one way how to have a productive day.
7. Limit phone usage.
While it may be tempting (and sometimes satisfying) to reach for your phone and check for the latest online as soon as you wake up, try to avoid doing so until after having breakfast.
You see, when you “dive” directly into your texts, emails, and social media notifications, you might immediately start thinking about the many concerns of the day. Phones and most gadgets, that we use daily, are notorious for being productivity killers.
So, don’t waste your precious morning moments on things that can always wait for later! Instead, focus on relaxing, meditating, exercising, and preparing a good breakfast. Doing these will help set a more positive tone for the day.
8. Maintain a clean workplace.
“Cleanliness is next to godliness,” as the adage goes. When it comes to productivity, the same principle applies, too.
Think about it. Having your desk stacked with paperwork and files can make you feel distracted, stressed, or overwhelmed-even before you’ve even started working!
But if you invest five minutes a day — just clearing the clutter off your desk and throwing away old magazines, receipts, and other junk — you’ll end up with a more pleasant playground on which to concentrate.
So get rid of all the clutter and start working with a more motivated mindset!
9. Get rid of distractions.
We all know that feeling of dread when you realize you’re swamped with work, and you feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get things done. That’s why starting your day off right is essential.
Use the time you have while you’re still in bed to get your thoughts organized for the day. Make a to-do list, and think about the most important tasks you want to accomplish. Above all, condition your mind not to give in to temptations and distractions. Even better, you can eliminate them from your day-to-day activities.
For instance, if you have a book or a novel that you sometimes read during your break, put it away when you’re working. Put away your phone, too, especially if you’re easily distracted by notifications.
There are many ways you could do this. So, go ahead, and try to explore which works best for you.
10. Focus on one thing at a time and avoid multi-tasking.
It’s common for people to try to do too many things at once. Unfortunately, our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. So trying to multi-task is just fragmenting your attention between several things. You’re not actually getting much done.
Remember that your mind works best when it is focused on one thing at a time. If you attempt to do two or more things simultaneously, the quality of your work may not turn out as well as you’d expect. Again, keep in mind that being “busy” or preoccupied with multiple tasks does not necessarily translate into productivity.
11. Think of breaks as a way to help you regain control.
A breather in the middle of your workday (or even in the afternoon) can help you be more productive and creative in the long run. If you work non-stop, not only will you experience physical tiredness, but mental fatigue as well. Hence, it’s essential to have several breaks throughout the day.
If you want to take your productivity to the next level, try the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests alternating between 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break time. You may even modify the durations if you think that’s best for you.
This simple time management tool can help you incorporate short breaks into your busy day, so you can maximize your extra time and energy doing what’s essential.
12. If the situation allows, choose “face-to-face” communication.
Modern technology has changed the way people communicate these days. Sending emails, making phone calls, and “virtual” conferencing have become the norm.
As much as possible, however, try to engage in face-to-face communication with your colleagues. Sometimes, it can be easier to exchange ideas when people get together. Many problems also get solved quicker this way. Besides, face-to-face interaction can help build camaraderie, which is another key to productivity.
13. Learn to say “no.”
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the many demands in your life, both at work and at home. But when you start saying “yes” to everyone who asks you to do something, you’ll never have enough time to do what you want.
Imagine having a busy day ahead, your calendar packed with activities. And then, someone comes along to make a request that would require your skill, time, and effort.
Unless it’s an important or urgent request, think before saying “yes.” Is it part of or related to your job? Will it affect your priorities and responsibilities?
When you learn to say “no,” you are choosing to prioritize yourself and your tasks. It’s as simple as that! The key to learning how to say “no” is, to be honest with yourself about the things you should be spending your time on.
14. Reward yourself.
“I am a self-starter. I am my own best motivator. I will get this job done.”
We’ve all told ourselves this at one point or another. Unfortunately, we can’t rely on our own motivation to get things done.
The reason? Our brains are wired to seek immediate rewards.
When we do something that makes us feel good at the moment, our brain associates the reward with that behavior and wants to repeat it. If we can’t get satisfaction, we give up, which is why we struggle to maintain our good intentions in the long term.
A good reward for yourself can be something as simple as eating your favorite snack during your coffee break or treating yourself to a delicious restaurant meal after accomplishing a major project.
Just as you would reward other people, you should also reward yourself. You deserve it!
15. Don’t bring your work home.
You might think that working more hours on a particular task will help you become a more productive person. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Considering that, you should condition your mind (and your body) to work only during the hours you are supposed to work.
Once you leave the office, let your work “stay” there. Don’t bring it home!
Home is for rest, relaxation, and spending time with your family and friends. Home is for engaging in hobbies, such as reading, cooking, gardening, music, etc. Consider home as a place where you can recharge so that you can face the day ahead.
When you’re at home, focus on getting some rest, and try not to think about work. Work can wait. And besides, tomorrow is another day!
16. Take time to reflect and think about how to have a productive day.
Too often, we get caught up in our daily lives, and we forget to stop and think about ourselves. This can lead to a downward spiral that leads to burnout and ultimately to unhappiness.
So, if you’re looking for a way to break out of a rut, take some time to reflect on your life and goals and ask yourself what you can do to accomplish them.
Have you learned anything new today? Were you able to finish an important task? Did you make any mistakes?
Reflecting is all about looking back and contemplating on ways how you can do things better.
17. Prepare your clothes for the next day.
Preparing for what you’re going to wear takes away the stress of having to “rush” the following morning. Some people even prepare their outfits for the whole week!
Choosing your clothes can sometimes be a stressful and time-consuming task. But if you prepare your outfit in advance, you can simply focus your precious time and energy on your work and not on trivial matters like choosing the best pair of shoes to match your new blazer.
The first few hours of the day are most critical to your productivity — so spend them wisely! Choosing for your clothes and other minor matters can be moved later in the day when you have less demanding tasks at hand to work on!
18. Get enough sleep.
There are so many exciting things to do in the world, but your brain will not be able to perform at its best without sleep.
Getting enough sleep also gives your brain time to work through any problems you’ve had during the day. It helps you solve those problems, too, because sleep strengthens your ability to think and retain information.
Never underestimate the importance of sleep. When you get enough hours of sleep — 7 or 8 hours at least — you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day. On the other hand, if you sleep for only 5 hours or less, you will end up feeling tired, sluggish, and even “cranky” during the day. Sleep is important!
To ensure a good night’s rest, you can establish an evening “ritual.” The idea is to relax; you can read, meditate, or listen to some light music. Avoid drinking caffeine or using your phone during this time, though. This bad habit might distract you from getting to bed early!
The Bottom Line
The way you go about your day plays a significant role in how productive you are.
However, still, being productive during the day isn’t as easy as it sounds — you need to be in a good mental space for yourself, and that’s easier said than done. But it is possible. There are truly effective ways on how to have a productive day.
With the right strategies, you can prepare yourself throughout the day to tackle your most stressful tasks. By embracing the simple, yet effective habits I mentioned above, you’ll be able to help yourself maximize your day and avoid mental fatigue.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Have a Productive Day
How can I have an extremely productive day?
It starts with your mind. If you want to have a very productive day, then it must start with your mind. You need to clear your head of everything else and just focus on one thing. That means no distractions such as social media, emails, texts, etc.
Once you’ve cleared your head, you need to take action on the first thing that you come across. Don’t procrastinate. Do something right now. Once you do that, you’ll feel more motivated to keep working until you complete whatever task that you’re supposed to do.
How do you turn a lazy day into a productive day?
I’m sure we’ve all had our share of lazy days… like, who doesn’t?
A quick exercise or even a simple walk in the park could help you shake off that laziness. If you don’t have the time for anything physical, try listening to music instead. Music has been proven to boost your mood and increase productivity.
If you really can’t find the motivation to get out of your chair, try writing down three things you’d love to accomplish today. There are tons of things you can do to stay focused throughout the day!
But if any of the quick tips above don’t work and you’ve been feeling lazy for days (even weeks!), you might need a reset or a refresh. Go for a vacation or a weekend away. Take a break from technology. Spend time with family and friends. Doing so will help you unwind and rejuvenate so you can tackle your work with much motivation and drive by the time you return.
How can I be productive every day at home?
Routines are key. Whether you’re at home or at school, having a daily routine can help you stay organized and achieve your goals. For example, when you go to bed at night, set aside specific times to study, write, or practice guitar. You can also use your morning commute to get yourself pumped up for the day ahead.
Why establish a good routine? Simple. It allows us to better manage our lives. Routines give structure to our days and allow us to plan what we want to do. They also help us avoid wasting time. By establishing a routine, you know exactly how much time you have left to spend on certain activities.
What is the best schedule for a productive day?
It depends on your personality and lifestyle. Some people thrive working early in the morning, while others prefer the afternoon hours.
If at this point you don’t know which time you’re most productive, try to test it out. Try working for a couple of hours in the morning and see how you feel after that. Try to do the same thing late in the evening, or whatever schedule you think you can stick to. The important part here is consistency. Once you find your ideal time, try to maintain that schedule for a few weeks. This will help you develop a habit.
How long should my workday last?
There are different opinions about how long a typical workday should last. However, there are definitely benefits to working no more than 4 hours per day. In fact, many experts believe that 4 hours is the maximum capacity our brains can handle without becoming overwhelmed.
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