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What You Can Do Every Night To Make A More Productive Tomorrow

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What You Can Do Every Night To Make A More Productive Tomorrow

We’re used to living life in segments: 24 hour days, 7 day weeks, 365 day years. Work, play, sleep. Morning, afternoon, night.

The way we segment our lives determines the activities that we select to do throughout the day. To be more productive, try on this new frame of mind. Instead, imagine life as a continuous flow where each moment follows into the next in one non-stop sequence from beginning to end. If you’re wondering what you can do differently to be more productive tomorrow consider these 7 suggestions.

Be grateful

No matter where you are in time and how things are going, there is always something to be grateful for. Find it and give thanks. Write it in your journal or on the notes app of your phone. If you are hard-pressed, be grateful for your ability to read this line. Not everyone can read and not everyone can see.

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Assess progress towards your long-term goal

It’s easy to get stuck in the minutiae of execution and lose sight of whether or not what you’re accomplishing every day really matters. Think about where you want to be long-term and look at how you spent your time for the day. How much time was dedicated to activities that will help you move towards your dreams?

If you’re not satisfied with that number, do something about it. If you have no idea where you’re spending your time, consider a time-logging app.

Create a list of 3 tasks you’ll finish tomorrow

Now that you’ve thought about your long-term goals and the associated tasks, create a list of 3 tasks that you can and want to accomplish tomorrow. Be clear about when and where you’ll accomplish these 3 tasks. If you use a calendar, make sure you schedule time on your calendar to work on them. Don’t add any new tasks until you finish 2 of the 3 on your list.

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Visualize a successful tomorrow

For the most part, you can predict quite accurately what tomorrow will look like. The meetings you have scheduled, the activities you have planned and the people you will see. Take time and imagine what a perfect tomorrow will look like from the moment you wake up until you go back to bed. Watch yourself accomplishing those 3 tasks that you’ve selected for the day and include bonus highlights. Maybe you catch your train, impress your client, or enjoy a great conversation with your good friend. Pick whatever you want it to achieve and believe.

Remember that mental rehearsal is not about fantasizing. Choose what the realistic ideal will look like. You might be surprised at how close you come to what you rehearse.

Make as many decisions about tomorrow as possible

Choose what you’ll wear and eat, along with any anything else you need to decide tomorrow the night before. This will free up your brain and help preserve your willpower for the more consequential decisions tomorrow. With more brain capacity and better decision making, you’ll see your productivity and energy rise.

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Write the first two lines

As an extension to front-loading your decision-making, set yourself up for success by starting the activity you plan to do tomorrow. If you’re a writer, write the first two lines of the article you plan to finish tomorrow. If you’re a parent, put the laundry you plan to wash in the washer. If you’re a doctor, lay out the files for the first two patients you plan to see. You get the point.

The hardest part of completing an activity is the start. If you can get that out of the way, you’re likelihood to actually finish the task when you decide to tackle it is high.

Sleep 8+ hours

There is no better productivity booster than sleep. When you get enough sleep, you can better focus on your plan for the day because you’ll have more self-control. Not only will you get more of the right things done, you’ll also notice your interactions with other people to be easier going. This is hard for those of you who do a lot. My advice is to see adequate sleep as one of your most important tasks to accomplish every day. Make it a priority.

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What routines or actions do you take the night before to set yourself up for a productive tomorrow?

Featured photo credit: Bed Time by VirtualWolf via flickr.com

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Robert Chen

Executive Coach

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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