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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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Last Updated on December 3, 2020

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

15 Strategies for an Effective To-Do List

One of the age-old productivity techniques around is the classic and effective to do list, and for good reason. It’s one of the most productive ways for you and everyone else to get anything done. Whether it’s a mental list or something that you are writing down, a to do list is an essential productivity tool.

At the same time, it is one of the most confusing productivity tools around. Many people discredit this for various reasons and don’t believe that a to do list is any good. But my argument is that maybe you and other people aren’t making an effective to do list, so here we will go over how to get one done right.

Why Bother With an Effective To-Do List?

You’ve Been Using Them Wrong

Before jumping into strategies to make an effective to do list, it’s worth knowing why you should bother making one. The first important point is that many people have been making to do lists all wrong.

Two of the most common mistakes are:

  • People use lists as a measurement of whether they are productive or not.
  • They put too many items on the list.

It’s understandable why you or other people do this, though. A to do list is a productivity tool, so it makes sense to pile on tasks. However, the brain doesn’t work that way. If you have a lot of tasks on your list, it feels like torture as the list never ends.

At first, it can feel nice that you always have something to do, but keep in mind that you only have so much time in a day. It’s important that you place more value in quality work rather than sheer quantity.

On that same note, if you are someone who has a tendency to seek validation, a to do list can be tough. There will be days where you won’t get everything done due to life events. This creates unnecessary pressure and sends you into a stress whirlwind.

It Helps You Stay Focused

When you build an effective to-do list, the main goal of these lists is to provide clarity and focus. If you’ve been doing them wrong, you may have noticed that you are focusing in on a task on your to do list and getting it done.

This may be overshadowed by the multiple items on your list, but you are focusing on a task during a given time. You really see this in action when you consider having a shorter to do list, though.

I understand that a to do list isn’t for every single person, but this focus is helpful to people when starting out. You’re still not certain about your goals or the path that you want to take. You may also struggle to determine the next step to work towards.

A to do list is a guide you can refer back to it whenever you need it. Furthermore, the techniques that I’ll be mentioning below will make to do lists more effective for you.

15 Strategies for an Effective To Do List

You’ll begin to see how powerful a to do list is when you consider the various strategies you can incorporate in one. This is your to do list, so pick from the strategies below to find what suits you. If you’re not certain, don’t be afraid to experiment and mishmash several combinations.

Remember that the road to success is one with many branching paths, so the methods you use are your choice.

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1. Break the List Into Two Parts

The first strategy is to break a list into two parts. These two parts are called dailies and to do’s.

Dailies are the everyday tasks that you want to develop more. For example, if you want to make a habit out of exercising in the morning, a daily task could be following a 15-minute workout routine or going for an hour-long walk.

Your to do’s are non-daily tasks that you need to be getting done at some point. Maybe you need to prepare a report at work or make a presentation. You can put that into your to do column.

This is an effective strategy because it saves all the clutter that most people gravitate towards. As mentioned before, people stuff their lists, and a lot of it is usually tasks they you would do anyway, like going grocery shopping or dropping the kids off at a friend’s place.

2. Put a Limit on Items

If you find breaking your list into two parts too much, I’ll suggest brevity to be a virtue when making these lists. You can set any number of items, but the key is that you do have a set limit in mind. Some people have no more than seven while others go as low as three. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

The idea behind this is to narrow in on the most important tasks that you need to accomplish that day. Of course, there are other things that you’ll be doing during the day, and that’s fine, but you want to prioritize the items that on your to do list before the day is done.

3. Use Checklists for Complex Tasks

If you’re already making narrow lists but are putting in tougher tasks, my suggestion is to break that task down. Whether it’s full-on steps you need to take or jotting down important details that need to be present is up to you.

Either way, this allows you to ensure that you’re getting everything done the proper way and that you’re not missing any key details or steps.

4. Tackle MITs First

MIT is the “most important task.” Another way to look at this is to tackle the largest and most intimidating task first[1]. Why you want to do this goes back to how our brain works.

You may feel compelled to do the easier tasks first before getting to the bigger task, but the problem is that these tasks—even the easy ones—drain your energy. Furthermore, if you have a really big task to complete, chances are that’s going to be on your mind over the course of the day. That means you’re spending more energy just thinking about it.

All of that wouldn’t be a problem if that big intimidating task was dealt with first thing in the morning.

5. Create a “Done” List

Another interesting approach to consider is to have a “done” list. This is a list of the tasks that you’ve completed from your to do list. Many people find it satisfying to merely cross an item off their list and be done with it, but depending on what you’re putting on those lists, a done list could be inspiring.

Imagine if you are someone who places above-average difficult tasks on your to do lists, activities that require an hour or two to complete properly. This can inspire you to do more if, after a day of working, you notice just how much you accomplished over the course of the day via this list.

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6. Make Your List Easy to Spot

From colorful paper to posting it in an obvious spot, you want your list to be in a place where you can spot it easily. Mind you, you don’t need to have this list in front of you all the time as it could create unnecessary stress. But setting it to one side is a nice idea—a glance to the side and you know exactly what needs to get done.

7. Add Gaming Elements to It

If pen and paper isn’t your thing when making to do lists, there are several apps that can guide you along as well. The beauty of to do list apps is that there is more room for creativity, and some of the developers incorporate games into them.

For example, Todoist has an achievement system where individuals earn badges as they complete more tasks. There’s also Bounty Tasker, which makes you feel like your tasks are side quests in a video game.

8. Give Yourself Deadlines

Work expands to fill time allotted.

It’s an old philosophy that still rings true with how we are productive. For example, say you’re assigned to write a report, and you’re given a week to do it. You’ll likely work on it steadily throughout the week. Or if you’re a procrastinator, you’ll put it off until the night before and finish it.

But what if you’re given that same task and only allotted an hour to complete it? You’ll likely get the report done, but you’ll prioritize the main, important points and highlight those rather than fill it with unnecessary fluff.

The whole point of this is that with your goals and the items on your to do list, you want to have deadlines. When it comes to to do lists, my suggestion is to give yourself a day to complete the tasks there. This is enough pressure and incentive for you to work hard on them.

9. Add Tasks When They’re Fresh

Another strategy is to assign yourself tasks even when you are working on something else. Keep in mind it’s not something you have to do right now, but this can help with people who are struggling to think about what to focus on next.

This is along the same lines as when you hear something interesting and you write it down. It’s a wise thing to do as it saves you the bother of having to dwell on that idea rather than focusing on the task at hand. It also saves you from having to recall what the task is if you’re the type to write up the next day’s to do list at the end of the day.

10. Be Comfortable With Revising Your To-Do List

Depending on your overall mindset, another good strategy is to look at your to do list and make changes to it. If you’re practicing the previous strategy, there may be a possibility that your to do list is getting lengthy and you’re setting unrealistic expectations that you can finish it all.

By giving yourself the opportunity to revise your to do list, your allowing yourself to spread out your tasks rather than have them clumped up. This helps your mindset as you’re not overwhelmed by the list.

11. Write Tasks, Not Goals

You should have separate lists for your tasks and your goals. The idea is to not put goals on your task list at all.

While tasks can help you lead to your goals, goals are larger desires and not something that you can achieve over the course of the day. For example, “learn to speak French” is a goal; however, you can break that into a task by saying “read French content for 15 minutes” or “watch a movie in French.”

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This also extends to objectives, too. You can see these as milestones. Going back to the example of speaking French, an objective can be, “discuss my favorite foods with someone in French.” It’s the desired outcome that you’re looking for from your practice.

12. Keep To Do Lists Brief

Here, brief means scannable in that you can quickly look over at the list and know what needs to get done. How you can do this is by focusing on the keywords of specific tasks and not dragging them out. For example, say your garage is a mess and you want to clean it up. Instead of writing a lengthy sentence, keep it short and write something like “clean garage for 30 min.” or simply “clean garage.”

With this strategy, you’re spending less time writing the task down when making the to do list. Furthermore, you’re relying on trigger words to get your mind to recall specific details for that task.

13. Have Multiple Lists

As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have separate lists for various things, like having a separate list for goals, objectives, daily tasks, and to do’s. Another way you can look at it is to have a system where you are consulting from three lists.

These lists are:

A Master List

This is where any of your long-term goals are, things like moving to a new house, getting out of debt, or building a business. These are things that will take a year or more to accomplish.

A Weekly Project List

These are things that you want to accomplish by the end of the week. These are things that will move the needle slowly towards some of the items on your master list. From the previous example, these could be doing research on getting a business loan, house hunting, or setting up a savings account.

A High-Impact List

Lastly, these are tasks that need to be accomplished today. Whether they are related to the previous two lists or not doesn’t matter. This is where high priority tasks are placed. Examples can be calling specific people or working on a project or a report that’s due soon.

By having these lists in place, you’ll be referring often to the weekly project list and the high-impact list and determining whether a weekly task should be moved to that list.

As you do that, you’ll begin to notice how much your daily life has an impact on those goals that are written on that master list. That can be inspiring since what you are doing is actively bringing you closer to your goals.

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14. Don’t Ramp up Difficulty Until You’re Ready

Some of the strategies mentioned can seem easy on the surface, but they require a lot of mental fortitude. Motivation is an unusual thing, and our brains are wired to process a certain way. If you’re looking for genuine change and something that sticks, the best principle is to keep things simple and easy at first.

It may be a drag, but you don’t often realize how those baby steps can play a crucial role in you being able to start running and chasing your dreams. Don’t be ashamed if you have to start off with simple tasks for yourself. Even going back to daily tasks that you do anyway like showering, doing the laundry or shopping for food is a good way to start.

Putting those items on the list at first makes you feel like you’ve had a productive day. From there, you can challenge yourself with more difficult tasks. Incorporate an exercise routine or spend a half-hour on a task that means something to you.

The idea is to ease yourself into a routine so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

15. Measure Your Time

The last strategy that can help you is to measure your time. How long does it take you to finish a specific task? You don’t need to go for specifics, but make a point of timing yourself over the course of a week and get the average time spent on that task.

Why is this important? This information can be broken down in two ways.

The first way is to use it as a marker to boost efficiency. Depending on the task, you can find new ways to achieve the same results in a shorter time.

It also allows you to know what you can do in a given day. If you know that it takes you an hour or so to go through your entire morning routine, you’ll be more conscious about how you move through that routine.

Furthermore, if you know what tasks you’ll be doing the next day, you can better manage your time since you know roughly how much time it’ll take to get everything done.

Final Thoughts

Building an effective to do list is not as easy as it seems. There are all kinds of unique strategies to try out, some more challenging that others. However, if you are motivated to use this productivity tool to make your life easier, then it will get easier. All that you need to do is keep putting effort and experiment and reevaluate when necessary. So get started with your to do lists today.

More Tips on Using an Effective To Do List

Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews Digital Content Production via unsplash.com

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