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13 Simple Ways To Make Your Work Day Super Productive

13 Simple Ways To Make Your Work Day Super Productive

You are dead tired. Because no matter how many hours you put in and how hard you work, you can’t seem to keep up with your never-ending growing to do list. And to be quite honest, it’s wearing you down and beating the crap out of you. You know for a FACT that if you don’t pull yourself together NOW. It`s just a matter of time before you become BURNED OUT.

If that sounds familiar, no worries. I’ve been there too. Relax. Breathe. I got you covered.

The fact is that many people spend a lot of time on work, while usually the time isn’t really well-spent. Let me reveal the 13 simple ways to make your work day super productive.

1. Prepare your clothes the night before

The moment your alarm clock wakes you up in the morning, you should immediately get out of bed and start your morning routine. You DON’T want to waste your valuable time in the morning deciding on which clothes to wear. Prepare your clothes the night before.

To be quite honest, you don’t want to spend energy making unnecessary decisions. That is also why Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same clothes every day.

2. Plan your day the night before

The experts say that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in execution. In order to become super productive you should know EXACTLY which tasks you should be working on at any given time.

How can this be achieved? To plan in advance. I would strongly recommend you to plan one week ahead. This will save you a ton of time. In addition, instead of just responding to other peoples requests, you will have control over your schedule and week. More power to you – hurrah!

However, you should at least spend 15-30 minutes planning your day the night before. When it comes to planning, it’s smart to apply a system that works.

I would advice you to…

3. Use a master to do list

You should only have ONE to do list, and it should be your master to do list.

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Why do I call it a master to do list? Because it will contain ALL the activities that you need to do. If the activities aren’t included in your master to do list, they won’t get done.

Do you know what`s the most important thing with the master to do list? If you said, to always keep it up to date, you are completely correct. A high five to you! *SLAP*

When you plan your activities in your master to do list, it`s important that you…

4. Apply the ABCDE method and the 80/20 rule

Prioritize your tasks using the ABCDE method:

  • A tasks – are tasks that you must do today, if not they will give you serious consequences
  • B tasks – are tasks that you should do today, if not they will give you mild consequences
  • C tasks – are tasks that you could do today, if not they will give no consequences
  • D tasks – are tasks you delegate to other people
  • E tasks – are tasks you eliminate. You never do them.

When you start your work day you will always start with your A tasks, which are your most important tasks. The real trick is to never do a B task before you have completed all your A tasks, and never do a C task before you have completed all your B tasks. By following this system you will be working at your most income generating tasks at any given time.

Use the 80/20 rule to identify your most important tasks, which will be your A tasks. Pareto’s law says that 20% of your tasks will result in 80% of the total production value. This means that if you have 10 tasks on your to do list today, and you ONLY complete the 2 most important tasks, they will give you 80% of the total result.

If you REALLY want to increase your productivity, you should definitely…

5. Get up 2 hours earlier

Studies have shown that most people are the most productive the first 2 hours after they get up from bed. That is why THAT time should be spent on your most important tasks.
This may of course vary from individual to individual. Some people are the most productive during the evening, while others are night owls. The key is to find out WHEN you are the most productive, and then block that time out for your most important tasks.

Two additional benefits of getting up 2 hours earlier, is that you get a head start and you will most likely have a quiet work environment. That is also why very successful people, like Richard Branson, gets up early in the morning.

After you have gotten out of bed, it’s smart to…

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6. Meditate for 5 minutes

You should meditate for 5 minutes. In addition to relaxing your mind and body, you should use the time to visualize your day. Imagine yourself go through the day and focus especially on important activities for that day, like giving a presentation. You should visualize yourself in third person. Play the picture in your head as a vivid movie with colors and sound performing your important tasks with great success.

That technique helped me to become a black belt in WTF Taekwondo in 2.5 years by only training 2 sessions per week. Average time to achieve a black belt is about 3.5 years with 3 or more training sessions per week.

No matter how busy you are, you should put aside time so you can…

7. Eat a proper breakfast

Yes, this may seem obvious, but not everyone eats a proper breakfast. And some people don’t eat breakfast at all.
Eat a healthy and proper breakfast. It doesn’t need to take long to prepare. 2 slices of bread with ham, cheese, tomatoes and a glass of milk will do the trick.

If you don`t have time to eat breakfast, at least take the breakfast with you, so you can eat it on the way to work. Your body is like a car. Would you expect your car to be able to perform at top level, if didn’t have any fuel? Nope, and neither will your body.

If you are really serious about taking your productivity to the next level, you should…

8. Work 2 hours before going to work

As mentioned in bullet point 5 above, the majority of people are the most productive the 2 hours after they get out of bed. Needless to say, this time should be spent on working on your most income generating tasks.

If it`s possible in your job situation, talk to your boss and suggest an arrangement where you will be working at home 2 hours before you go to work, and you can leave 2 hours earlier. You should present the proposal with the focus on what’s in it for your boss and the company. You could refer to the studies, telling him/her that you want to be able to produce more at work, so you can give the company a better return on investment (ROI) of your time. This will benefit both the company, your boss and you. As long as you are able to deliver high quality work, it shouldn’t really matter at WHICH location the work was performed.

This is the new way of thinking. Something that Tim Ferris is mentioning in his book “4 hour work week.” If you really want to optimize the use of your time, you should…

9. Spend your commute on learning

Since we all only have 24 hours in our lives, the difference between a very successful person and you, is HOW you have spent your time.

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Who said that time on the commute should be spent on reading newspapers, Googling trivial information or playing Candy Crush on your cell phone? Spend that time on listening to an audio book or a podcast that is about a SPECIFIC topic that will help you IMPROVE an important skill or LEARN knowledge that will give you an advantage to your work or business. This will make sure that you have gained another advantage to the majority of your competitors or coworkers.

Once you arrive at work, it`s important that you…

10. Make yourself unreachable at work

Yes, you read correct. If possible, you should isolate yourself and make yourself completely unreachable. The best way to get things done at work is when you are not being interrupted. Even though your coworkers probably are nice people, listening to their gossip, vacation plans and how many hot dogs they managed to eat at the last barbecue party, will NOT make you more productive. On the contrary, you should find a room or book a meeting room where you can work undisturbed. If you can`t remove yourself from the environment, you have to do your best to control it.

If no such spot is available, you can always politely ask your coworkers to keep their voice down, since you are working on a very important task. Then put in your earplugs and listen to some classical music, while you work focused. Focus will be the number one skill that alone can skyrocket your productivity.

You may be wondering about what to do when a gazillion of tasks falls into your lap during your work day. The short answer is…

11. When new important tasks occur prioritize FAST

Yes, no matter how well you plan your day, new tasks seems to magically appear from nowhere…ALL the time.

It can be really frustrating, right? The key is to be able to prioritize your task and put ALL the important tasks on your to do list and if needed, rearrange your currents tasks. Most B tasks and all the C tasks can be added later. In other words, what you need to do is to be able to identify the A tasks.

Example:

  • You are working 30 minutes on an A task on your to do list.
  • Then your boss tells you that an important client wants you to do 3 new tasks
  • You quickly categorize them as 2 B tasks and 1 C task
  • You continue to work 30 minutes on your A task
  • Then you dear boss arrives once more, this time giving you another task from his boss.
  • You quickly categorize the task to be a A task (even more important than the A task you are currently working on)
  • You rearrange the order and puts your boss`s boss task on the top and start working on it
  • When you are finished with that task, you start working on your previous A task
  • At the end of the work day, you will be adding the 2 B tasks and 1 C task to your master to do list

By doing this, you will be able to always be working on your most important tasks.

An activity that can easily cripple your productivity is constantly checking your emails. You should…

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12. Only check your email at specific times

There is no bigger time thief than checking your email and becoming sucked into the almost endless void of other peoples requests. You should ONLY check your email at specific times. Unless you are waiting on a very important email, checking your email 2 times a day should be enough.

If you work from 9 am to 5 pm, checking your emails could be done at 11 am and 4 pm. You will then be able to spend your 2 first hours (9-11 am) on your most important tasks (if you aren’t able to work the 2 first hours from home). Then you will check the email right before you go to lunch, and then again 4 pm, one hour before your workday is over.

You should give it a try. It will make you more relaxed, happy and more productive!

Then over to the last tip that most people will find the most challenging – start to…

13. Say no

You should immediately start saying no to unreasonable requests. Successful people are really good at saying no. Every time you say yes to doing an activity, you are automatically saying no to other activities, like spending time with your family or going for the evening run. Super productive people are also very good at saying no. Perhaps that is why most successful people are super productive?

It`s all about the eternal battle regarding our 24 hours each day. What do you spend them on? Are you spending them on activities that will bring YOU closer to your goals, building the life you want for you and your family?

Or do you spend your time saying yes to being a slave for other people`s unreasonable requests? Like helping your coworker, who is ALWAYS struggling with his / her deadline, and you will never get any credit for it, nor will your coworker return the favor. Or do you say yes to drive your neighbor’s kids to the mall, because they want new crayon colors so they can draw a unicorn?

You get the point. HOW you spend your TIME will determine your FUTURE.

What’s your best productivity tip?

Featured photo credit: Rob Hainer via depositphotos.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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