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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Why Planning Your Day is Vital for Productivity (And How to Do It)

Why Planning Your Day is Vital for Productivity (And How to Do It)

Aren’t you amazed at how some people can manage to do everything they want within their planned time? Do you want to find out their secret? Planning your day isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

If you want to be someone who can actually achieve what they plan, you need to start spending some time planning your day. Don’t worry, today you’ll find all the A to Z of why and how to plan your day.

These tips for planning your day will work perfectly for students, as well as career-oriented individuals. What’s even better is that you’ll learn all the expert tricks of how you can improve your productivity by planning your day accordingly.

Doesn’t it sound like a one-stop solution to all your work problems? That’s exactly what it is. So, keep reading to find life-changing tips!

Why You Should Start Planning Your Day

Before we move onto the fool-proof formula of planning your day, first let’s convince you on why planning your day is a task you should spend time and energy on.

You’re Prepared

With a plan in mind, you know what’s coming. The responsibilities of the day are clear, unless an unexpected or urgent task comes up.

The point is, when you head to war prepared, there’s a higher chance of victory. However, if you’re attacked without a clue, you not only have to fight harder, but there’s also a very low chance of your success.

If you wake up knowing the things you have to do, you’ll be more motivated. Since there’s less time to procrastinate, you can’t do anything but focus on work. Your subconscious is prepared, and so you take on the tasks with full motivation.

This actually works wonders to get you to finish your tasks of the day promptly.

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Allows You to Prioritize

You can work all day long without accomplishing anything. This is a very rookie mistake that you need to avoid. How, you may ask. Well, planning your day is the answer.

When you plan your day, you have the opportunity to prioritize your work in a way that ensures that important jobs are fulfilled[1].

Without a plan, you start doing what comes to your mind. It is a very haphazard way of doing things because nothing is connected or coherent.

On the other hand, when you proceed with a plan, you can give more time to what needs it the most. If, for example, you’re going through a tough time in life, you can prioritize self-care that day. The great thing is that, since you have a plan, you can still squeeze in the urgent tasks.

So, it’s a win-win situation where you get what you want without compromising on your responsibilities.

Enhances Time Management

One way or the other, productivity always comes down to one thing: time management.

What better way to manage every second of the day to its full potential than planning it out?

When you schedule your day, you’ve basically put every minute to use. Task 1 is designated for one time slot, task 2 for another, lunch-time for one hour, and so on.

All the needs and jobs are taken care of. Yet, nothing overlaps. Personal commitment, work deadlines, and everything else are perfectly planned out throughout the 24 hours. You don’t feel burdened, and you don’t waste any time.

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Creates a Structured Life

There are days when you just want to wing everything. It’s great to be spontaneous once in a while, but it’s not something you should do every day.

As fun as this lifestyle sounds, it won’t be long before it starts taking a toll on your mental health. Surprises and urgencies are not that fun to deal with when they start affecting your personal life and work efficiency.

Planning your days brings an order. It makes your life systematic. Don’t confuse this with a boring lifestyle. A structured life means that you’re clear about what you want to do. It doesn’t mean you’ll follow the same routine every day. However, whatever routine you want to follow is pre-planned and well thought out.

Not only is it an effective way to boost your productivity, but a structured life also helps you get rid of bad habits while strengthening good ones.

How to Start Planning Your Day Perfectly

It’s now time to finally talk about the easy yet effective method of planning your day for productivity.

1. Start With a Goal

The first part of your plan is to have a clear goal.

Never proceed with your day’s plan unless you have a goal for the day in mind. Daily goals are important when it comes to keeping you on track and helping you achieve something at the end of the day.

Your day’s goal should be in line with your week’s goals so that you’re moving forward instead of wandering around.

With this goal in mind, plan your tasks accordingly. Make sure that each task leads to the accomplishment of your goal so that by the end of the day, you have fulfilled what you have in mind.

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2. Look at Each Day as Part of a Week

Although you’re planning your day, don’t look at it individually. Consider one day to be 1/7th of your week. Similarly, do not look at one day differently than your entire month.

The point is that each day should contribute to your bigger plan of the week, month, year, and life. It should all be cohesive. Ultimately, everything you do in one day should be coherent with what you want to achieve in the longer run.

Don’t forget to keep the future and the bigger picture in mind when planning your day. Also, keep the previous day and the coming day in mind. For example, if a task from the previous day was left incomplete, make sure to carry it on the next day. If you know you have a deadline in the coming days, schedule a part of it in your current day.

3. Categorize

A day is comprised of much more than just work. You have personal commitments, work deadlines, social life, house chores, and so much more. A perfect plan should include all these categories.

One major issue is that a lot of people tend to focus too much on work and too little on themselves. For the perfect daily plan, don’t forget to add in some personal time. Some alone time is necessary for mental strength, creativity, reflection, and other important things that help you keep going[2].

Having categories in your plan will allow you to balance it all out. You’ll know you have to set aside a certain amount of time for one category. This way, no part of your life will be neglected.

4. Be Flexible

Don’t make a plan that’s too stringent. You never know what surprises life will bring in the coming day. Therefore, always have enough room in your plan for adjustments.

Mark the things that cannot be moved around at all so that you know you need to get them done no matter what. This way, you won’t have to think long and hard to make room for the unexpected urgencies.

Be flexible enough to accommodate an urgent work task, a mishap, health issue, uninvited guest, and other similar things.

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5. Maintain Balance

One day is no more than 24 hours. Don’t overburden yourself by wanting to achieve more than possible.

A balanced plan contains no more than 1 or 2 big tasks. The rest of the day is divided into 4 to 5 smaller tasks. Some of these tasks are more time-consuming than others. Similarly, some are harder and more challenging, whereas the others are a piece of cake.

Also, maintain a balance between fun and boring tasks so that one day isn’t all mundane and the other is full of excitement.

Add in a few optional jobs that you can do if you find the time. However, even if these optional tasks are left undone, it won’t harm you.

To keep the balance intact, make sure to add something to each category that was previously talked about. Once again, don’t forget to include some time to relax. If you wear yourself out one day, you won’t be able to perform well for the rest of the days in the week.

Conclusion

By now, you’re most likely convinced that planning your day is worth it. Now, it’s time for you to make it a habit to plan your day the night before so that you wake up with a clear perspective of what you need to do.

It hardly takes half an hour each day to make a thorough plan. But, in the longer run, it saves you way more time. This is the best way for you to reach your goals quickly and efficiently.

If you seek growth and development in your life, you shouldn’t skip planning your day from now on!

More Tips on Planning Your Day

Featured photo credit: STIL via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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