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Last Updated on November 24, 2021

How to Plan Your Day for a Healthy And Productive Life

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How to Plan Your Day for a Healthy And Productive Life

There are many things that the 21st century makes a lot easier for us. Not everything, though… Despite the fact that the standard of living is constantly improving, some challenges just seem like they get more and more difficult all the time.

For example, even though there are hundreds of things, we can enjoy doing, hundreds of opportunities to take advantage of, and hundreds of tech gadgets that are supposed to help us, the lifestyle often backfires and makes getting things done much harder, especially if we want to do it effectively.

In essence, remaining productive in our day-to-day living has in many ways never been more difficult. However, it’s not something we have to just accept. No matter how busy we think we are, we can still enjoy a fulfilling life without losing any of our productivity.

For me, and probably for many of you as well, being able to accommodate work-life balance (including things like dieting, relaxation, and working out each) is a serious challenge. It’s not impossible, though…

How can you make that happen? Plan your day carefully.

The pros of doing daily planning includes saying goodbye to procrastination, lessering last-minute hassles and stress, becoming more goal-oriented and motivated, and leading a more well-balanced life with organized priorities.

What Is The Best Time To Plan Your Day?

Without a doubt, one should start planning as soon as they are fresh and ready to move on with work. When you wake up in the morning, planning your day should be just as important as having a bath or brushing your teeth.

Plot out your day for 15-20 minutes every morning, either before, during, or after breakfast. It’s a good idea to plan your day the night before if you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

12 Tips on How to Plan Your Day

1. Think in Advance

The best possible starting point is to spend 10 minutes in the evening planning your next day. You can use a tool like Google Calendar to schedule your workouts and other activities, to make sure that you don’t overlook anything important.

You need to know how much time you have in a given day and how much of it you’re going to need to complete every activity. Once you have an understanding of what you need to do, you can focus on preparation. This means things like setting the alarm clock, planning what you’re going to do first, and so on.

When doing so, consider the following points.

2. Warm up Immediately After Getting Up

There are many ways to wake up in the morning. The most popular one is to drink half a gallon of coffee and leave the house immediately afterwards. How about doing a simple warm-up instead.

Start your day by doing some jumping jacks, pushups, body weight squats, arm and leg swings. Doing this for 10-15 minutes will have better effect than coffee. The other, probably even more obvious benefit is that it allows your stiff body to work out its aches and pains.

3. Eat a Good Breakfast

This is where your diet comes into play. Depending on the guidelines you’re following, there are many variations of a good breakfast. Just don’t go to the extreme with your diet… What is really important is to choose a diet that you’re actually going to be able to stick with.

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A word about dieting… The word diet doesn’t always have great connotations. Many people think that a diet is something designed to make you lighter, when in fact it can have many other goals. Generally speaking, a diet is simply a well thought out approach for eating what’s good for you.

Take a look at these 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time.

4. Bring Snacks With You

Snacking is the main problem for most dieters. We know eating chocolate every two hours is not a healthy habit… but many of us do it anyway.

Throughout the day, you’ll find yourself craving different foods. The best way of dealing with this is to have a healthy snack on hand at all times, instead of eating less healthy foods.

Most of the time it’s just your brain telling you that it needs to consume something, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be chocolate. Now, if you’re working from home, it’s easier, but if you have a standard out of the home job then make sure to take some snacks with you to fight temptations at work.

Usually, no matter what kind of diet you’re on, things that can be considered healthy snacks are carrots, nuts, vegetables, and low-sugar fruit. (Consult your dietician on this.)

5. Work in Intervals

Time to work now. For me, the most effective approach at working is to focus on utilising the following intervals (and it’s not the first time I’m sharing this, by the way):

  • Work for 50 minutes.
  • Have a 10-minute break.
  • Work for another 50 minutes.
  • Have a 30-minute break.
  • Repeat.

Why is this effective? Because our brain is not able of maintaining concentration for more than 1-2 hours at a time. By providing frequent breaks, we’re actually improving our productivity greatly. (Tested on myself.)

6. Workout Before Lunch

There are many reasons why working out before lunch is the right thing to do.

First, there are a lot fewer people at the gym.

Secondly, you get additional stimulation to focus on the rest of your day (similar effect to the afternoon coffee).

Finally, after the workout you can have a protein-rich snack or lunch which will improve your weight loss / muscle gain results (hint: protein is good for both).

Another thing great about this is that your workouts don’t have to be long. Working out for 30 minutes before lunch, 3 times a week is still a lot better than working out for 1.5 hour, once a week in the evening. Remember what I said about sticking with your plan, and not trying to be too ambitious.

You can also try these 29 Exercises You Can Do At (Or Near) Your Desk.

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7. Relax by Doing Something Entirely Different

Some people like to relax by going for a jog in the evening… For me, this is not a good approach. First, you’re exhausted after your workday and all you’ll be thinking about is your bed or the TV set.

Secondly, as I said before, any physical activity wakes up your body (like a coffee does), and I don’t see the point of waking up in the evening, just an hour or two before you’re supposed to go to sleep…

For most people, relaxation is only effective when it revolves around doing something entirely different from what you’ve been doing throughout the day.

For instance, one of the best relaxation activities is spending some quality time with your friends, kids, spouse, Xbox 360, or simply playing with your dog.

It’s good because it’s different. Believe me, if you were to play with your dog all day it wouldn’t be relaxing anymore.

The same thing is true of physical exercise or intellectual activities. For instance, if your job involves a lot of thinking then it will be very hard for you to relax in the evening by reading an intellectual book.

Always, I repeat, ALWAYS do something completely different.

8. Prepare Your Food in Advance

This is the final dieting advice here. Some diets are hard to follow if you don’t prepare your own food. Most of the time you won’t find quality foods in the cafeteria at the office (unless you work at Google). That’s why you should prepare your food in advance, and then simply take it with you.

The best time to do this is either in the morning (as yet another way of waking up), or in the evening (as yet another way of relaxing).

However, if you don’t like preparing your own meals, or taking care of picking the right foods, you can take advantage of many diet food delivery services, such as Diet to Go, eDiets, Nutrisystem, BistroMD.

Now that you have an understanding of all the elements of an effective day, round them up and prepare yourself for tomorrow. However, most importantly of all, tweak every piece of advice you get until it fits your unique lifestyle. Find a solution that you can stick with permanently.

9. Kickstart Planning Your Day

Your stress factor can be considerably reduced by planning your day effectively. Proper planning offers you the assurance that you have devised a workable action plan and that your objectives are attainable.

You can effectively spend your day according to the schedule you’ve set for yourself once you’ve planned it. It aids in the management of your nutrition, the morning routine of exercise, sleeping schedule, and working hours.

The only difference is that you don’t have to have a traditional pen-and-paper daily planner to do this.

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10. Categorise

Work is only a small part of a day’s activities. You have personal obligations, job requirements, a social life, housework, and a lot more. All of these categories should be included in a flawless plan.

One long-term important issue is that many people place too much emphasis on deep work and not enough on themselves. Don’t forget to include some personal time in your daily tasks. Mental strength, creativity, introspection, and other key things that help you keep going require some alone time.

You’ll be able to balance everything out if you use categories when you learn to plan. You’ll realise you need to devote a specific amount of time to each group. This ensures that no aspect of your life is overlooked.

11. Prioritise your tasks

Once you’ve created a master list for your day’s activities, the following step is to prioritise your set goals. Once you’ve arranged your master list, it’ll serve as a road map to get you from morning to evening most effectively and efficiently possible.

Remember the 80/20 Rule, often known as the Pareto Principle, states that 20 % of your efforts will provide 80% of your results. As a result, prioritising the tasks that contribute to most of your gains is the key to increasing your efficiency.

12. Use The Chunking Approach

It’s nearly impossible to stay focused on anything, let alone how to manage your daily planning, when you have too much on your plate.

You can create reasonable and achievable goals using your resources without exhausting yourself if you use the chunking strategy. Group-related activities and information into bite-sized chunks to practice chunking.

Chunking is one of the most successful time and energy management tactics; as a result, everything from arranging your workday to enjoying your free time becomes more natural.

Best Productivity Techniques for Daily Planning

Productivity tactics are methods for tapping into productive flow states and achieving high quality with minimal effort. Most productivity tactics are based on behavioural science and are designed to take advantage of how your brain operates. While they are structured, they are usually adaptable and flexible.

The Healthy Time-Box

Stretch your body for 5 minutes for every 55 minutes of work at your desk. Learn more about time boxing here: How To Master Timeboxing For Increased Productivity

Pomodoro Technique

Get a timer and set it for 25 minutes with the Pomodoro Technique. Set the timer and get to work. For the next 25 minutes, concentrate solely on your task. Stop working when the timer goes off and take a 5-minute rest. That’s what we call ‘one Pomodoro.’

Learn more about the technique here: Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for Your Productivity?

Eat the Frog

To overcome procrastination, start with the most difficult or vital task.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

Brain Tracy,[1] the famous productivity coach, dubbed the approach after Mark Twain’s wise words:

If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first. — Mark Twain

Time Blocking

Time blocking is a time management technique that divides your day into smaller and finite chunks. It is arranging your day ahead of time and designating time to certain tasks, such as 20 minutes for email, 30 minutes for meetings, two hours for intensive work, and so on.

It’s entirely up to you how much time you set aside — Elon Musk and Bill Gates are just two examples of people who like to work in shorter bursts of time.

Find out more about time blocking: How to Use Time Blocking for Productivity: 19 Practical Ways

Apps That Can Help You Plan Your Day

The number of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and computer-based time management solutions available today is incredible.

There are computerised time management tools that you can tap into or load onto your computer to assist in organising every aspect of your life, no matter what you do or in what area you work in.

1. Rescue Time

This tool is for you if you’re having trouble managing multiple important tasks and devices simultaneously. Rescue Time is compatible with your phone, computer, Outlook, Gmail, and other email programs. This not only aids in task management but also serves as a reminder wherever you are.

2. Focus Keeper

This software is designed for people who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. Focus Keeper is based on the Pomodoro Technique’s principles. It offers a simple, effective user interface that can be quickly customised to meet your specific requirements of a routine plan.

3. MindNode

Mind mapping is a fantastic way to increase productivity, and Mindnode is one of the best free mind mapping programs available. It assists you in becoming more organised by focusing your thoughts, allowing you to see clearly what has to be done.

4. Trello

It is the most popular online management application for dragging, dropping, colour-coding, and manipulating your list. Trello works by allowing you to generate cards for the tasks you need to finish.

As your job begins, middles, and ends, cards are moved across the board, divided into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed. It also has Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box integration.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, managing your time effectively requires assigning each task on your to-do list to a specific time slot. There are a number of ways in which people manage their time, and one of the most common is by giving themselves a buffer of several days to complete an assignment before the due date.

You’ll always meet your deadlines if you plan out the time you’ll need to finish your work.

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Featured photo credit: Gabrielle Henderson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Brian Tracy: Eat That Frog: Brian Tracy Explains The Truth About Frogs

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

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The 5 Fundamental Rules Of Working From Home

Suppose you finally took the plunge: resigned your corporate job, decided to follow the passion of your life and (by lack of a new office space, of course), you started to work from home. Welcome to the club! Been there for a few years now and, guess what, it turned out that working from home is not as simple as I thought it would be.

It certainly has a tons of advantages, but those advantages won’t come in a sugary, care free, or all pinky and happy-go-lucky package. On the contrary. When you work from home, maintaining a constant productivity flow may be a real challenge. And there are many reasons for that.

For instance, you may still unconsciously assimilate your home with your relaxation space, hence a little nap on the couch, in the middle of the day, with still a ton of unfinished tasks, may seem like a viable option. Well, not! Or, because you’re working from home now, you think you can endlessly postpone some of your projects for ever, since nobody is on your back anymore. You’re your own boss and decided to be a gentle one. Fatal mistake. Or…

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OK, let’s stop with the reasons right here and move on to the practical part. So, what can you do to squeeze each and every inch of usefulness and productivity from your new working space and schedule (namely, your home)? What follows is a short list of what I found to be fundamentally necessary when you walk on this path.

1. Set Up A Specific Workplace

And stay there. That specific workspace may be a specific room (your home office), or a part of a room. Whatever it is, it must be clearly designed as a work area, with as little interference from your home space as possible. The coexistence of your home and work space is just a happy accident. But just because of that, those two spaces don’t necessarily have to blend together.

If you move your work space constantly around various parts of your house, instead of a single “anchor space”, something awkward will happen. Your home won’t feel like home anymore. That’s one of the most popular reasons for quitting working form home: “My home didn’t feel like home anymore”. Of course it didn’t if you mixed all its parts with your work space.

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2. Split Work Into Edible Chunks

Don’t aim too high. Don’t expect to do big chunks of work in a single step. That was one of the most surprising situations I encountered when I first started to work from home. Instead of a steady, constant flow of sustained activity, all I could do were short, compact sessions on various projects. It took a while to understand why.

When you work in a populated workspace, you behave differently. There is a subtle field of energy created by humans when they’re in their own proximity, and that field alone can be enough of an incentive to do much more than you normally do. Well, when you’re at home, alone, this ain’t gonna happen. That’s why you should use whatever productivity technique you’re comfortable with to split your work in small, edible chunks: GTD, pomodoro.

3. Work Outside Home

In coffee shops or other places, like shared offices. It may sound a little bit counterintuitive, to work outside your home when you’re working from home. But only in the beginning. You’ll soon realize that working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay there all the time. It basically means your home is also your office and you’re free to go outside if you want to.

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I know this may not apply to all of the “work from home” situations, but for those related to information processing, when all you need is a laptop an internet connection, that usually works beautifully. It adds a very necessary element of diversity and freshness. It can also be the source of some very interesting social interactions, especially when you have to solve all sort of digital nomad situations.

4. Go Out!

Working from home may be socially alienating. After almost 3 years of doing it, I finally accepted this as a fact. So, apart from balancing your home time with consistent sessions of working outside of your home, you should definitely go out more often. Our normal work routine, the one that is performed in an office, that is, makes for an important slice of our social interaction needs. Once you’re working from home, that slice won’t be there anymore. But your need for social contacts will remain constant.

So, my solution to this was to grow my social interaction significantly over what I was having when I was working in my own office. Going out to movies, running in the park, meeting for drinks or just chat, whatever it takes to get me out of my home/working space. On a one to ten scale, my social life before was around 3 and now is at a steady 7.

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5. Thoroughly Log Each And Every Day

It goes hand in hand with keeping a personal journal, but this time it’s about work, not personal feelings and experiences. Keep a detailed log of each project and be always ready to pick up from where you left one day or one week ago in just a matter of minutes. It’s not only a productivity enhancer, although it will help you be more productive, but it’s more on the accountability area.

When you work from home you’re your own boss. And, for any of you who are (or have been) bosses, this is not an easy position. You gotta keep track of all the information about your team and of every advancement in your projects. That’s what a boss is supposed to do, after all. When you work from home you have to perform this bossy role too, otherwise you will be lost in your own unfinished ideas and endless project stubs faster than you think.

Featured photo credit: Ian Harber via unsplash.com

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