A part of figuring out how to be most productive brings the realisation that the options are endless and near impossible to fit into a single article. And really, who wants to read an article that long? Not me. To ensure it’s easy to take in and remember, I’m breaking down the different ideas, experiments and methods I’ve adopted into my life in an attempt to be more productive into separate articles. The below tip in this article focuses on preparation as one of the many building blocks I find necessary in getting into the most beneficial mental state to be productive, for therein lies the answer. Productivity for me is only achieved with an optimum state of mind, so organising yourself where the mind is free to operate at its best on the desired topic is key.
Organise tomorrow, today.
This is a big one for your mental state. If the time between getting up and starting work is shortened with menial tasks ticked off in an efficient matter, your day is set. Before you’ve started this ‘real’ work for the day, you’ll receive a positive flow on from your great productivity in the morning. You’ll be buzzing, mood up beat and confident. I can’t emphasise how important a good start is to me. Getting to 10am or 11am and feeling like I’ve achieved zero compounds the likelihood of an average day at work. The best bit? Being super productive in the morning is very, very simple. The below points are extremely basic on the surface, but looking a little deeper, they are simple ways of removing items from your tomorrow to
A) Increase your ability to focus on one topic with fewer distractions; and
B) Increase your confidence and sense of achievement straight away by completing tasks efficiently.
This is what it looks like.
- Set out clothes. A lack of decision-making skills teamed with five years working at clothing stores means too many options takes up my time. This is embarrassing to admit, but whatever. If my outfit for the next day is laid out (pants, socks, jumper, jacket, shoes), this can sometimes save up to 10 minutes in the morning. Countless times I’ve sat on the end of my end with no idea of what to wear with an imaginary clock ticking by in my head, losing time and causing me to become frustrated, with this negative emotion leaking into my work day. Planning your outfit the night before is also easier because there are no time limits hanging over your head. TIP: Don’t try and one-up this by sleeping in your clothes for the next day. That, my friend, is the beginning of the end.
- Write the to do list. This is really important. Whilst it will take 5–10 minutes off your day, you’re in a better frame of mind to be deciding what is most important to be achieved tomorrow, today. Your current work is fresh in your mind, your frustrations about what wasn’t achieved today are, too. A good tip: Use the Ivy Lee method for planning tomorrow’s to-do list. And use a highlighter to highlight each task as you complete them, it feels great. Finally, if you find yourself adding tasks to the to-do list after you’ve done them to get that sense of achievement, make a note that you’ve strayed from what’s important.
- Pack my bag. I know, it’s a small thing, but it helps. Tick tock. TIP: Try not to even need to take a bag.
- Make breakfast. My NutriBullet is my rock. That thing is the absolute perfect product for my life. It lets me put whatever I want into it and turns it into a drinkable product in seconds. It takes me five minutes to make two NutriBullets at night and 30 seconds to drink one after exercise in the morning, with the other being a 3pm snack at work to push through my most unproductive time of day — 3:30pm — 7pm. TIP: Wash your used NutriBullet mug ASAP, those things pong left sitting in a bag somewhere.
- Do admin. The feeling of ticking tasks off is addictive, but leads to a lack of focus from the main one. Once you’ve done your to-do list, look at what jobs are quick to do and can be labelled as ‘admin’ — paying bills, transferring money, sending an email (if you’re worried about sending an email at 9pm, you can schedule it quite easily so it goes out at a more appropriate time) and do these the night before instead of when you hit a mental block at work and look for a little task to achieve in the mean time. TIP: If you can put ‘interacting on social media’ into the admin pile, you’ll see a huge benefit.
If all the above are done, I’m up and out the door to work in record time and feeling like I’m beating everyone. This is a great feeling. The more I look into productivity, the more I realise it’s heavily reliant on a positive state of mind, and this is one way of achieving it.
Is there anything you do today to make your tomorrow better? Let me know so I can try it out, too.