If I’m being honest, I have never and probably never will be a morning person. I love my bed and being buried under a pile of heavy blankets but like most people, the morning is my most productive and focused time of the day. If I set aside time in the morning, I notice that my work is better focused, more creative and composed. I also have the most energy in the morning and when I work in the evening, I have a harder time focusing because after a full day with the kids, I’m exhausted.
It’s proven that the way you design your morning will set the tone for your entire day which is why you need to create a routine to increase productivity.
CREATE A ROUTINE
Routines are paramount to creating a productive lifestyle so its time to get consistent with how you start the day. Before you head out the door in the morning, what is a list of things you would like to accomplish? Do you want more time for yourself? Time to workout or read the newspaper? A jump on work?
Ok, you have a set routine for the mornings but what about when you get to work?
What would the first 45 or 60 minutes of work look like if you could create a routine that sets up your entire day to be the most productive possible?
Take a moment and create a step-by-step list of what this would look like.
Now that you’ve created a checklist for the morning, you have to do the hard part and begin implementing this routine for the next two weeks. Building a habit takes time but it’s an important shift for your energy and necessary to increase your productivity. Why wouldn’t you work to create more positive outcomes? Research shows that people with consistent habits will be more productive in general and especially at work.
I’m a stay at home Mom to three kids under five but I also juggle several freelance jobs as well as making sure our family and home runs in top form. My mornings are filled with getting the kids and myself ready to get out the door and then to preschool on time but I also need to check into work and juggle assignments. I don’t want to rush around like a maniac and I know my kids can’t live in a world of chaos.
Each morning, I have one hour from the time the kids wake up until we’re out the door so our routine is important for our entire family and sets the tone for the whole day. In order to ensure I’m productive, I get up 45 minutes early to get a head start on the day.
When you’re making your list, no detail is too small. Create a list of every single thing you want and need to do in the morning. Make sure you schedule time for the things that you love whether it’s as simple as a cup of coffee or practicing yoga.
The kids know our routine, my husband knows the routine and our dogs even know the routine. Since it’s an ingrained habit for everyone in our house, it makes our mornings run like clockwork and keeps us on time.
What about your mornings would make you feel most productive? Is it getting a workout in before breakfast, checking emails, meditating or taking 10 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee by yourself? Whatever it is that will jumpstart your day and give you the energy you need to be most productive, schedule it into your morning and make it a healthy habit by doing it every single day.
EAT A REAL BREAKFAST
Grabbing a muffin as you’re running out the door doesn’t count as a real breakfast. It’s a step in the right direction but eating a healthy breakfast will give you the energy you need to be at your best all day as well as improving your short-term memory and concentrating for longer periods of time.
TACKLE THE BIG STUFF FIRST
It’s time to finally “bite the bullet” as they say and do the hard stuff first. I know the feeling because I used to cross off a handful of small tasks from my to do list to make myself feel like I was accomplishing a lot, but in reality, I was just avoiding the big item on the list. If I kept myself busy with the small stuff, I could keep putting off starting on that one big task. Delaying doesn’t do much good because I can almost guarantee there is a deadline involved and it’s going to have to get done sooner or later. So why wait? I know in my line of work, if I wait until the deadline I will run into an issue getting ahold of information from vendors for a proposal I’m writing or my budget isn’t going to be 100% accurate. I am usually dissatisfied with my work if I’m rushing to finish it. This is why I tackle the big item on my list first.
What is the biggest, hardest or most pressing item that’s on your to-do list? It’s time to stop procrastinating and eat that frog. I guarantee that the sense of accomplishment (and probably relief) you get from finishing this one item will be much larger than all of the small items combined.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
If you’re going to work more efficiently, you have to stop the juggling act. You cannot and will not use your mental energy wisely if your brain is trying to handle several acts at once. Stanford University conducted research that concluded – multitasking is far less productive than doing a single thing at one time. They found that when you’re inundated with multiple streams of electronic information you cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as an individual who is set on completely one task at a time.
Can you safely drive your car while talking on the phone, listening to the radio and passing food to your kids in the backseat? Absolutely not.
TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS
Turn off the chaos! Shut those notifications off. Bottom line; they prohibit your productivity and divert your attention. Social media is great but it is a total time suck unless you set some boundaries to using it. I know that I love Pinterest but the time can quickly get away from me when I’m just clicking through aimlessly.
Turn off all your social media notifications – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest – all of them and set one or two designated times throughout the day to check them. Its especially important not to waste your mental energy on social media while you’re working on tackling your to-do list.
Next, turn off your email notifications. Say what? I don’t check email every five or ten minutes and I don’t receive notifications about incoming email. I check my email every hour or so, however, there are certain exceptions to this rule. If I’m desperately waiting on an email with information for a proposal I’m working on and I am up against a deadline, I’m checking my email more frequently.
Email is a major distraction and one that will only enable procrastinating from the tasks you are trying to complete. It is important to set boundaries for when you can check your email so you stay focused and are using your mental energy wisely.