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5 Productivity Hacks to Kick Start Your Day

5 Productivity Hacks to Kick Start Your Day

How many times has this happened: you have a great weekend, you’re ready to go for Monday morning, and then something happens and it all hits the fan. You’re behind before the week even begins and you’re in a super bad mood. It really shouldn’t be this way, but this is the reality of life.

What can you do to stay ahead of the game and push through even the most maddening distractions to your productivity?

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Here are five suggestions to help empower you to stay focused and make the most out of your day, even when life throws you some curveballs.

1. Have a Game Plan

Sure life happens, but if we have some set-in-stone things that we try to commit to every day that empower us, it will prepare us for whatever our day may bring. These set-in-stone rituals should be things that you need to fuel your body, soul, and spirit. They prepare you to face the stresses of daily living. Therapists call it good self-care skills. Things like a good physical workout, a quiet time of meditation and prayer, reading something that might be intellectually stimulating and fueling your body with healthy nutrition.

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2. Set Goals Daily

We know that goal setting is important, but lots of folks think in terms of setting long and short range goals, not daily goals. Start by making a list the night before of the things that are priority accomplishments for the following day. If the first 3 get done, you’re good. If more get done, that’s an added benefit. In order to set daily goals, you have to plan for obstacles. That means you may have to say no to certain distractions or requests. It means you may have to delegate duties to others. If you have trouble doing these, you need to be curious as to what’s driving that.

3. Be Flexible

We all love to plan. But when our best-laid plans go up in smoke, we have to flexible and come up with creative ideas to make things work in the moment. Flexibility requires that we learn to control our emotional responses. We can’t go around freaking out when things happen because guess what? They will. We have to learn adaptive ways to calm ourselves and focus in the middle of the storm. Things like learning to control the breath and muscle relaxation help. I also teach my clients to scan their bodies for tension at least twice a day. This requires you sit quietly for 10 minutes and focus on each part of your body starting with your head and ending with your toes. You want to scan for tension and any other sensations you notice. Staying calm and focused is the key to a successful day, not to mention your health and overall well-being.

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4. Get Rid of Distractions that Weigh You Down

This one is hard. How many times a day are you tempted to answer your phone, check your email, or Facebook page, or shoot out a tweet? Productivity won’t happen if you’re constantly being interrupted by dings, pings, and boings. So turn ’em off! There will be plenty of time for them later. You also need to beware of people who are time suckers. Sure you want to help everybody, but some people will talk all day long if you’ll listen. Know who is draining you emotionally and make the necessary adjustments to deal with it. Time management is key to productivity.

5. Go to Sleep!

Turn off the TV, the computer or your iPhone and go to sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, your ability to problem solve and be productive will be dramatically reduced over time. You may be able to pull off 6 hours a night when you’re young and don’t have a family, but sooner or later, this one will catch up to you. When you sleep, you heal and repair your body. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Sleep also helps your brain to function optimally and improves learning.

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None of these practices will guarantee that life and work will always go smoothly. The unpredictable rhythm of life assures us of that. But when we’re on our A-game, we are able to handle most of what life throws at us and keep the ball rollin’.

More by this author

Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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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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