I’m the girl who has a thousand ideas to tackle and a hundred goals and plans. I’m also a pisces and can get quite overwhelmed when it comes to matching up my productivity with my expectations of myself when feeling inspired.
I am blessed that my life is full professionally and personally. But with so many things going on, I not only want to feel as though I’m progressing, I also want to reduce the amount of times I fill disheartened when things don’t go to plan purely because I had high expectations but lacked structure.
Keeping productive isn’t at all about glorifying busyness – it’s actually the opposite. It’s about maintaining a work-life balance and allowing yourself to feel accomplished and organised enough to properly enjoy down time.
It took some time to figure out what felt right for me, so I hope these tips will be beneficial by giving you some ideas on how you can make the most out of your precious days.
Despite being a night owl myself, over the years as a student I found that I’m actually more productive in the mornings. Mornings (if early enough) are uninterrupted you-time, and though perhaps so are evenings, the later it gets the more we’re drawn into be social or relaxed. There will be busy times where you may need to work late, but establishing a routine where you relax at night and value your time to rest and rejuvenate then allows you to better give the best of yourself the next day.
Maintain a morning ritual
Doing things for yourself first thing in the morning not only gives you a reason to get out of bed instead of repeatedly hitting the snooze button, it also powers you up for your day. First task is all about you. The reason it works is because it is catered to what makes you feel good. Whether that is a thorough skin-care/beauty routine which makes you feel put together, or yoga to help you stretch, clear your mind, and energise. It’s all about finding what works for you.
Establish a routine
For some of us, having a routine is harder than it might seem! Every day is different, and sometimes other people influence our day’s schedule. Routines don’t have to be carried out perfectly, lives require flexibility. But having a routine structures our day to be able to tick tasks off in a timely manner so it doesn’t become part of our ever-growing to-do list. Routine could be something like : wake, shower, make bed while coffee is brewing, responding to emails during breakfast… little tasks that are better taken care of quickly rather than procrastinating or allowing these tasks to take up more time and energy than they are allocated.
(speaking of…) To-Dos and daily goals
I am a list-girl as well as a planner-girl, and often that is all my planner is made of – sequential to-do lists. I highly recommend sitting down at the end of the day, or first thing with your morning coffee and listing down your to-dos for the day. On days that require an early start, I prefer to organise my thoughts (along with my clothing, bag and lunch) the night before so that I can sleep without worrying I will forget something in the morning. On more flexible days, I plan during the morning – as there are times you wake feeling inspired to tackle specific tasks and goals.
There are a number of productivity methods you could follow, or pick and choose what works for your needs by making a customised method that best suits your lifestyle and time. I use a flexible variation of the Pomodoro technique. This technique was created by Francesco Cirille in the 90s which combines focused work and frequent breaks to increase productivity. I will go into popular productivity techniques where we can dive a little deeper into the methods in a future post. Whichever method best suits you, the idea is to focus on your task with as little distraction as possible. Obviously everything has to be adapted to your personal needs, but you want to resist the urge to check your phone, social media, messaging a friend, or watching an episode of Vampire Diaries (yes, I’m late to the party…) and keep focused on your task until your scheduled break.
Having clear and measurable goals is key, and worth a whole series of posts on the topic alone! Tracking your progress keeps your tasks and your goals at the forefront of your thoughts. Seeing progress also keeps you motivated and accountable – you can look at your day and see what activities/tasks you have done to work towards reaching your goal. Trackable goals can include things such as fitness, diet, social media stats, blog stats, shop orders, money saved… the list goes on. Wanting to track your goals also makes it easier to think of them in more specific terms rather than the general idea of ‘getting fit’.
Daily exercise boosts your energy levels, releases endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin and dopamine (the feel good chemicals), which then elevates mood and relieves stress! Even a walk or climbing up and down office stairs can make you feel more energetic for the day ahead.
Not every day has to be a deep clean day. But having a routine (custom to your own needs) helps create a space that encourages creativity and productivity. A quick 15 minute clean in the morning, such as making the bed and putting away any clothes or items around the house, creates a clutter free environment that allows for space in our homes and in our minds (currently reading ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever’ by Marie Kondo – will share my thoughts with you soon!). Another 15 minutes in the evening to put away the dishes, laundry or clean up the desk area not only helps us relax in the evening, but also gives us a head start in the morning.
The reason I stress so much about routine is because it allows us time to do the things we love without feelings of guilt, or using it as a form of procrastination. I found when my day was unstructured and I was scrambling to get things done, that I would stay up late reading or catching up on shows. This was my down time, my me-time. I would then struggle to be productive in the morning, not feeling on-top of my game, and then the cycle would start all over again.
Having time for myself in the evening to wind down, with a long shower, a good meal, a few episodes of my favourite show has all helped me sleep at night. I am getting into bed earlier, satisfied that I had been both productive and had sufficient time for myself and my family.
Sleep is fundamental to good health and well-being. Sleep plays an important role in your physical and mental health, and allows your brain to prepare for the next day by forming new pathways which help you learn and remember information. Sleep deficiency alters your ability to make decisions and solve problems. Lack of sleep can also have a detrimental effect on your emotional state and mental health. All these go strongly against living a fully and productive life, so please make sure you’re getting enough sleep!
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my daily habits for success and productivity. if you have any questions or comments, feel free to share them in the comments below.