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Last Updated on October 2, 2018

Want to Feel More Energized Throughout the Day? Start With This

Want to Feel More Energized Throughout the Day? Start With This

Do you feel busy and tired or exhausted all the time? Or, do you have trouble making the most of your time because you struggle to stay alert during the day?

Whether it’s due to a lack of sleep or your mind being overly preoccupied, many of us wish we had more energy and concentration to get through our day.

Some of us choose the coffee route, downing cups of coffee throughout the day to stay alert and productive. Others choose to sleep the weekend away in hopes of ‘recharging’ our bodies.

But what if I told you that these are all temporary, if not ineffective, ways of boosting energy?

Starting Your Morning on the Right Note

Instead, if you truly wish to be more productive on a day to day basis, you need to find a sustainable way of renewing your body’s energy levels daily. And it’s actually really simple.

It starts from the moment you wake up. That’s right, did you know that starting the morning on the right note will determine how productive you are for the rest of your day? Yet, many people don’t see the importance or need to have a morning routine.

Most mornings, we wake up likely still feeling tired from the night before, and we may even struggle to get out of bed. If you hit snooze, you end up rushing when you finally wake.

To many, getting up and out of bed is really all that is needed every morning. But how you wake up each day and your morning routine or lack thereof, dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life.

Introducing the Morning Routine

Hal Elrod, ultramarathoner and author of The Miracle Morning says that focused and productive mornings carry over to successful days, and ultimately successful lives. This is because having a routine creates structure, eliminates distractions, and eventually forms a habit where it becomes automatic, so that you don’t even have to think about it. Another great reason to create a morning routine is to avoid mental fatigue.

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We often struggle to get through the day because we only have a certain amount of energy and willpower when we wake up each morning, and it slowly gets drained away with decisions as the day goes by. This is especially true if you’re making hundreds of small decisions in the morning that will affect how you make decisions for the remainder of the day. It’s no wonder you’re struggling to focus in the office by 4pm. So, with this in mind, try and have the first hour of your day vary as little as possible regarding routine.

Next, I’ll show you how to implement an ideal morning routine that will allow you to systematically get through the morning quickly and effortlessly. It’s a framework to help you plan and prioritize different actions that will help you to feel energized and conserve as much energy as possible for the rest of the day (where the real action takes place).

But bear in mind, it’s not a schedule. Instead, it’s about finding the best order to do different actions, that will help you feel more energized throughout the day to give you maximum productivity.

Prepare Your Body

So let’s start with the first part of the morning routine – preparing your body. Preparing your body in the morning means jump starting your body’s engine so that the energy that you have accumulated from your sleep is ready to be unleashed for the day ahead.

A common belief is that if you get enough sleep you will automatically feel refreshed the next morning. But, I’m also sure that many of you are aware this isn’t always the case.

So what I want to show you is that there are other concrete steps that you can take every morning to get your body and energy levels started.

Take a runner for example. Before a race, a runner usually warms up, maybe with a leisure run or something to get their muscles and body ready for the actual competition. So similarly, after a good night’s sleep, our body has a build up of energy that is ready to be used for the new day. But, if we don’t ‘warm up’ or jump start our engine, we will not be able to effectively use that energy.

The benefits of preparing your body when you awake are that you become more alert, your body’s metabolism starts kicking, and you are able to use your energy more effectively. We’ve condensed 7 key actions that you can incorporate into your morning to awaken your body for the day ahead.

1. Wake up on time

The first is to wake up on time everyday. This helps you to regulate your sleep cycle with your body’s internal clock.

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2. Open your curtains

Next, open your curtains the moment you get up. Natural light exposure helps to kickstart your body’s internal clock.

3. Make your bed

It’s as simple as that! Making your bed not only ensures you’re out of bed, but it also demonstrates discipline and order.

4. Rehydrate your body

The fourth action to take, an important one that is often neglected, is to rehydrate your body with at least 2 glasses, or 16 oz of water, the first thing after you walk out of your bedroom. Staying hydrated not only helps to kickstart your metabolism, but more importantly, after 6-8 hours without any liquid your body needs to rehydrate.

5. Do some light stretches

Once rehydration is out of the way, next do some light stretches or a quick 10 minute workout. Morning stretches or a light workout helps to wake you up from grogginess and limber up. A little physical activity also improves mental health, and reduces tension or body aches that might have developed from the days before.

6. Hop into the shower

Once you’re done with your light workout, it’s time to hop into the shower! I know this may sound almost redundant, but you’ll be surprised to find that some people do not take showers in the morning! Instead, they may take them at night before bed.

Taking a shower in the morning helps your body to wake up and it’s always good to start the day feeling and smelling fresh!

7. Have a good breakfast

Last but not least, before you leave for work, it’s important to have a good breakfast. Eating a nutritious breakfast will no doubt help to give an added boost to your energy levels.

Also, you won’t be famished when it’s near lunchtime which means you will have better control of not overeating during lunch.

Organizing Your Mind

What we’ve just gone through are ways to prepare your body physically in the morning. But there’s a little more that you can do to ensure you get the most of your day without feeling sluggish or exhausted. And that is learning to organize your mind–thoughts, actions and outstanding plans, so that your energy is prioritized for the day.

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A common mindset that many people have is to just take things as they come, or wing-it throughout the day. But did you know that simply taking an extra 3-5 mins every morning to do intentional reflections and planning for the day can save you hours later in the day?

It also gives you motivation and additional drive to do more with the day ahead. Every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution. So if it takes about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, this small investment of time will save you up to two hours in wasted time and diffused effort through the day.

1. Start by doing a 5 minute reflection.

This can be done while you’re having your breakfast if you want to save on time. Reflecting helps you to clear your mind, and allows you to think about the long term goals that you’ve set for yourself. Use this time to ask yourself if you’re nearer to achieving those goals.

Write down your thoughts if need be, as it’s a stream of consciousness of whatever is on your mind, and essentially a brain dump on ideas for business, life, and other decisions. Whatever you want to clear your mind of will get your brain working and thinking more creatively.

Once you’re done, the next thing to help clean up in your mind, is to look over your to-do list. If you have a digital to-do list on your mobile device, scan through it to see what are the tasks that you need to accomplish today.

Are there any existing errands or tasks not yet complete? Prioritize them so you can see what is most urgent. This will only take a minute or two to declutter.

2. When that is done, you can now plan out your day.

Always put the most important task first so that you ensure it gets done. Try not to book any meetings or appointments until late in the afternoon if possible, as your mornings are usually the sacred hours of peak productivity.

You want to be able to use the full bar of energy you have, and the morning caffeine (if you drink coffee) towards the most important tasks.

3. Once you’ve completed the sorting and organizing, it’s time to do some leisure reading.

This can be a quick 15-20 minutes of catching up on the daily news, browsing articles online or reading a book. By doing some reading in the morning, you’re fueling your mind with knowledge and inspiration.

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Reading books on mindset, personal growth, and business for example, can also give you inspiration and gets your creative juices flowing for the day.

If you don’t feel like you have the time to do this at home, try doing it while commuting to work if you take the public transport. If you walk or drive to work, you can try listening to podcasts or audiobooks as an alternative.

4. Before you leave the house, pack healthy snacks to take to work.

As trivial as this may sound, being prepared is part of organizing your mind to ready yourself for the day ahead.

Having snacks at the office will help to fill in your pre and post lunch gaps, and that will help ensure you have a constant supply of energy throughout the day and avoid afternoon slump.

5. Lastly, leave plenty of time for your daily commute.

Leave room for potential traffic delays or transportation breakdowns so that you don’t come in to work feeling flustered or rushed, as that will dampen your mood, which is a big energy sucker.

Kickstart Your Day with the Right Routines

I hope you’ll agree that having a morning routine is the best way to kickstart and ensure that you have a constant flow of energy to help you stay productive throughout the day.

With every new routine takes practice and time, you may want to do a little bit of trial and error with the suggested routine to get comfortable with it.

Having a constant flow of energy is vital to help you stay alert and in control throughout the day. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to do more just because you’re lacking in energy or concentration.

Besides having a morning routine, there are other routines that you can try throughout different times of the day that will help you to generate or conserve energy.

As your productivity is closely associated to your energy levels, it’s important to find new ways of keeping your body energized. If you’d like to learn about the other routines, why not subscribe to our newsletter today?

Featured photo credit: Japheth Mast via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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