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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 March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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