Did you know that many C-level executives play computer games at work to “feel more productive”? It is ironical, but it’s the truth today. People are using whatever they can to become (more) productive and daily checklists are just one of the things.
But there is a good way and a bad way to create a daily checklist. One will super boost your productivity, the other one will be a mind-numbing task which you will stop doing in two days.
To avoid the latter, I have devised only 13 things you need to have on your daily checklist to super boost your productivity and it starts with your morning routine.
Whatever you do in life, you need to have a morning routine which is consistent. It is your anchor for starting the day and if you skip it, your entire day will be off track. There is a reason a phrase “start off the day on the wrong foot” persisted over millennia.
I won’t tell you what your morning routine should be because nobody can tell you that, but what I can tell you is that it should have certain elements and they are the following.
1. Sleep for 8 Hours
You need to sleep for 8 hours. Period. There is a plethora of research which says that you need 8 hours of sleep to be productive and cognitively optimal during the day.
But what is even scarier is that there is a ton of research done on the effects lack of sleep brings to people and the results are devastating.
So if you want to be productive, sleep would be the first thing on your daily checklist.
2. Early Physical Activity
I don’t mean an hour-long session in the gym. You can do that if that’s your things, but by this, I mean simple stretching, maybe a 10-minute walk, or a short 5 to 7 minutes long exercise.
You just need something to wake up your body and get the blood flow going. One example would be Tony Robbins who jumps into his pool and swims a couple of laps.
Use whatever physical exercise works for you for as long as you need to wake up.
3. Eat Some (Healthy) Food
Food gets energy in your body early in the morning and wakes up your mind in a different way than exercise.
You need food in the morning and I hope you will eat something healthy because that has the best benefits for your mind and for your body.
There are multiple diets out there that tell you that their diet is the best diet. Try out a couple of different diets and stick with the one which suits you the best. Remember, the goal of the daily checklist is that only needs to work for a single person – for you.
4. Do Your Favorite Unproductive Activity
An unproductive activity in the morning in an article on daily productivity using a checklist? Yes, I understand the irony but remember the C-level executives?
You Are Not A Robot.
You are a human being and we need fun, unproductive, and lazy time. If you spend 10 to 20 minutes in the morning doing your favorite unproductive activity, you will settle down “the instant gratification monkey” everyone has inside of us.
Once you’re done with it, you will clear it from your mind and carry on. Some people watch YouTube, some play Minesweeper or BubbleSpinner (guilty…), but you can do whatever you like. That’s why it’s your favorite unproductive activity.
5. Personal Reflection Time
It’s not necessarily meditation. Meditation is just one thing you can do for your personal reflection time. You can also spend a couple of minutes for yourself to center yourself for the upcoming day.
Some people call it gratitude, but to me, it’s just personal reflection time. I do this by walking toward my workplace while listening to music.
It can be whatever works for your – a prayer, a minute of silence, sitting down in the car and doing nothing, etc.
6. A 10-Second Plan
Most people elaborate on their charts, sheets, daily plan through 7 different applications. And that’s why it doesn’t work.
You are smart. But like, really smart. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this.
You already know what the most important thing you have to do today is. If I gave you only 10 seconds right now to plan your day to be productive, that activity would be the only one in those 10 seconds.
That is your plan for today.
Do only that for today and your day will be productive.
But that is easier said than done. I know. That’s why we are only at the half of the article. All of these above were the things that you do when you’re home or commuting. But now, let’s go over the things you do when you get to work.
7. Get Yourself into a Working Frame by Reading
When they get to work, most people first sit down, open their browser and randomly scroll the internet for half an hour.
But not you. You know better.
You should sit down and open up a book or an article which is related to your field of work. This is really important. Once you read an article or a couple of pages of a book which is related to your field of work, your brain will put a focus on that information and it will start producing some marvelous ideas and solutions.
The most important thing here is that it can’t be scrolling over Facebook or Instagram. It needs to be something which puts your mind into the right field and working state.
Before writing this article, I reread certain parts of Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto, Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits, and Eric Barker’s Barking Up The Wrong Tree.
Put yourself into the right frame of mind and you’re almost there.
8. Kill Distractions
Okay, if Jenny from the office is a distraction, don’t literally kill her- it’s just a phrase. But I used the word kill for a specific reason.
You need to behave toward distractions in that kind of a way. Kill it wherever you deem possible.
Put your front page on your browser to something which won’t seduce you into procrastinating. Use headphones even if you don’t listen to music because your colleagues will know that you mean business when they are on. Close the doors and shut the drapes. Turn off Wi-Fi on your phone.
No distractions make you work – because there is nothing else to do and your brain is already in that state of mind.
Take a look at these tips on How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done.
9. When Tired, Rest. Don’t Quit!
Since I’m a writer, taking a nap in the middle of the day to rest is a possibility and almost a daily occurrence for me (sometimes I take a long walk instead).
You will get tired during the day and when that happens, don’t try to push through it. Simply stop working and go rest.
The problem here is that nobody ever taught us how to rest and our culture looks at that as laziness. There is a major difference between the two, but the most important thing when resting is that you 100% rest. So no working, no thinking about working, and no working (I had to re-state that for some workaholics out there).
I was writing an article which was a summary of every single personal development book I read in the past two years (90 books in total). The article took me two months and 100+ hours to finish. But I learned to rest when I was tired, so I managed to finish it even though the size of it is comparable to a book.
When tired, rest. Don’t quit. When necessary, schedule downtime for yourself too.
10. Know When the Day Is Done
I’ve seen people who are super productive themselves, but they think that they are lazy and unproductive because there is always more you can do.
That is the problem of not knowing when the day is done.
Point 6 was “A 10-seconds plan.” If you managed to finish that in the day, it was a productive day and the day is done. Nothing more, nothing less. You did the one thing you planned for the day. Don’t torture yourself thinking that you need to work 16 hours a day to be productive. That’s not productivity, that’s torture.
Stop when you’re done and call it a day.
11. Track Your Day
This comes at the end of the article and the day because you need to check things off the daily checklist.
By tracking your day, you realize what you did and didn’t do for that day. After a couple of days of working everything from your checklist, the goal becomes not to “break the chain.” This is something attributed to Jerry Seinfeld who, when asked how he became a great comedian, responded:
“I just wrote one joke a day and then tried not to break the chain on my calendar.”
Track your daily checklist because you will grow a habit of doing it.
You may want to make use of these apps to keep track of your day: 24 Best Habit Tracking Apps
12. Reward Yourself
The best thing after a productive day is the reward you get by being productive.
Don’t ignore this thing on your daily checklist. If you’ve done everything from the checklist, give yourself a proper reward for that. It will make your brain remember the activity as pleasurable and it will become easier for you to do it.
Learn to celebrate small wins so you’ll stay motivated and keep up the momentum.
13. What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There
A checklist is a tool which you use; so understand that over time, your life, work, job, situation, and position will change. And alongside that, your daily checklist will change as well.
Realize that the things which got you in this position doesn’t necessarily have to be the things that will get you further along. Things change and your checklist should change accordingly.
The Bottom Line
You now have all the 13 things for your daily checklist which will make you super productive. Put it somewhere visible where it can look at you every single morning and every single evening.
That will remind you to do the activities from the checklist. And if you keep doing it, eventually, it will bring you massive results.
Every journey, no matter how long, always begins the same way – with a single step. You’ve already made two steps – you’ve read this article and learned what you need to have on your daily checklist. The third step is implementation and it’s yours to make.
More Productive Habits to Adopt
Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com