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4 Ways to Start the Day Right and Boost Productivity

4 Ways to Start the Day Right and Boost Productivity

We all know that how a person starts the day will impact what they achieve for the rest of the day. Getting off to a good start sets the stage for a very productive day while a slow start can mean not achieving your objectives.

If you want to boost your productivity, you need to get off to a good start. Follow the steps below and you should experience a noticeable increase in productivity throughout the day by, ensuring your mornings are focused on your most important objectives.

1. Create a To-Do List the Day Before

One of the best ways to get a good start on the day is to take the last 30 minutes or so of the previous day to plan ahead. Simply put, creating a to-do list before you go home establishes your plans for the following day. The list will immediately put you on track when you arrive for work the next morning.

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Arrange your tasks in order of priority for a more concise and productive plan. This will save additional time by not requiring you to organize your priorities first thing in the morning. You can walk in and get right to work.

2. Do Not Open Your E-Mail First Thing

Checking email in the morning constitutes the biggest productivity destroyer at all levels of business. According to an Accountemps survey of 2,100 CFOs, 58% started the day reading e-mail rather than working on projects. Doing so harms productivity because the vast majority of e-mails are routine and do not require immediate attention, yet workers are distracted by these routine issues instead of concentrating on more important tasks.

Do not open your e-mail inbox when you first arrive at work. Instead, spend the first hour or so of your day working on the most important task on your to-do list. Only when you have made significant progress or completed the task altogether, should you even think about checking your e-mail.

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The problem with e-mail is that your inbox is essentially an electronic can of worms. Once you start reading e-mail, you end up dealing with insignificant things that only hinder your productivity. You may believe you need to check your e-mail first thing in the morning, especially if you work with external clients, but for most, it is unnecessary. Anything that requires urgent attention will instigate a phone call from your client rather than an e-mail message. If you do have clients sending urgent requests via e-mail, you might want to communicate to them that the telephone is a more effective way of making you aware of anything urgent.

3. Do Not Attempt to Multitask

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking is not the best way to achieve maximum productivity. Multitasking takes longer, reduces productivity, and increases the likelihood of making mistakes. One need only step back and observe someone trying to walk down the street and text at the same time. Multitasking does not work well. By contrast, a single task focus is the best way to ensure your work meets high standards and make maximum use of your time.

Believe it or not, your co-workers make multitasking necessary by approaching you and asking for assistance while you are in the middle of something. You might be requested to join a meeting just getting under way, or having to stop what you are doing in order to solve a problem a co-worker deems a higher priority. In either case, you need to learn to say no.

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Block out specific times on your schedule, based on your daily to-do list, when you will be unavailable to your co-workers. Share your schedule with them so there is no temptation on their part to interrupt your productivity. Then stick to that schedule. If they see you working hard and making good use of your time, they will be less likely to distract you.

4. Turn Off or Mute Notifications

The mobile age has exposed us to all sorts of notifications that constantly distract us from the tasks at hand. Notifications may seem helpful, but they actually destroy productivity. Turn them off or mute them; do not allow notifications to continue to hinder performance.

Like controlling e-mail, turning off or muting your notifications does not disconnect you from your co-workers and the outside world. It merely allows you to control when you are exposed to incoming messages. Make a point of checking your e-mail and notifications during your breaks. This will keep you up-to-date with what’s going on without distracting you when you are working on important tasks.

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Productivity is everything in the modern workplace. You can increase yours by getting off to a good start first thing in the morning and then sticking to the steps outlined above throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Nolan Issac via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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