Whether you are a career driven professional, a small business owner or a busy single parent, every single individual is bound by the restriction of time. Although each of these individuals has a variable range of tasks that require completion, for example, they face similar challenges and must effectively manage their time if they are to achieve success. Many struggle to achieve this, however, and there is one fundamental reason for this. More specifically,
Understanding this point provides a foundation for effectively managing your time, while also enabling you to become more productive as a result. With this in mind, consider the following steps for building on this foundation and making the most of every day:
1. Develop a Suitable Sleeping Pattern
The key to daily productivity starts the night before, as a suitable pattern of sleep sets the tone for a productive day. According to clinical psychologist Stephanie Silberman Ph.D, the best way to achieve this is to shift your sleep cycle in fifteen minute increments to determine a viable routine that can be easily sustained. So if you would like to get up earlier without encountering feelings of fatigue, begin to wake up fifteen minutes earlier for a 3-4 day period to ensure that your body adjusts effectively. You can then repeat this cycle until you are comfortable and have developed a sleep cycle that enables you to begin the day at the optimum time.
2. Accomplish Tasks that are Physically Near to One Another
Once you have risen and are preparing for the day ahead, you can save time by completing tasks in a logical manner that prioritizes location. If you are preparing breakfast in the kitchen, for example, you should identify any additional tasks that require your attention in that area before moving on. If you are able to complete a high volume of tasks in a single location and within a specified period of time, you can create a more efficient schedule that is focused on accomplishing goals rather than travelling from place to place and retracing your steps repeatedly. Although this may require a change in outlook, it will ensure that you are more productive in terms of direct action.
3. Consider the Benefits of Commuting
Multi-tasking is often considered to be the benchmark of productivity, but people are often too ambitious in their approach and tend to compromise on quality rather than quantity. It is therefore important to be more selective when multi-tasking, in order to strike the ideal balance between accomplishing goals and maintaining an excellent standard of output. If you were to choose to commute to work using public transport rather than drive in, for example, you are effectively creating additional time to complete tasks rather than being forced to hastily scan emails before you jump in the car and set-off. Professionals can spend as much as 10% of their working day travelling to and from the office, so commuting offers a unique opportunity to spend this as productively as possible.
4. Eat a Balanced and Healthy Lunch
The food that you eat is also a crucial consideration, whether you are planning a mid-morning snack or lunch. Food habits are easily compromised when we have a busy schedule, as we are inclined to grab a sugar-laden snack or a fast-food lunch to provide a quick and unsustainable burst of energy. Not only does the productive use of time rely on your ability to spread your calorie intake evenly throughout the course of the day, but it is also necessary to ensure that you eat just the right amount at lunchtime. Women need an estimated 400-600 calories for lunch if they are to remain productive throughout the course of a working day, with meals low in carbohydrates and high in fiber (such as wholemeal bread, fruit and vegetables) the ideal options. If you are in need of an afternoon snack, consider slow-release energy food items such as bananas or avocado.
5. Take A 20-Min Power Nap After Lunch
During the most stressful times of her premiership, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was renowned for forgoing sleep in order to retain control of her government. So instead of heading to bed for 6-8 hours of uninterrupted rest, she instead took regular, 20 minute naps to treat sleep deprivation and recharge her brain. Taking a short power nap after lunch is in fact a scientifically proven technique that helps to provide a burst of alertness and increased motor performance when it is most required, which in turns means that you become more productive over the course of an entire day without the need for artificial stimulants such as caffeine.
6. Take Regular Breaks from the Computer Screen or when Focusing
As the day progresses, you may well find yourself becoming irritable or lacking in focus. This is because excessive reading, driving or staring at a computer screen can cause significant eye fatigue, which may ultimately cause long-term sensitivity to light and pain in the neck, shoulders or back. In the short-term it can prevent you from completing tasks in a productive and time-effective manner, so it is important to take regular breaks wherever possible. Given that eye fatigue impacts on an estimated 50-90% of all computer workers, these individuals can also safeguard themselves and their schedule by creating a work space where their screen is positioned at least 20 inches away from their gaze.
7. Vizualise an Outcome and Remain Focused on Goal Accomplishment
On the topic of focus, it can be increasingly difficult to accomplish tasks and projects as the day draws to a close. This is not only the result of mental fatigue, however, as distractions often serve as alerts that implore us as individuals to orient our attention elsewhere. According to David Rock, a co-founder of the Neuro Leadership Institute, the human brain is finely-tuned to distraction and reacts in an automatic and virtually unstoppable manner when attention is diverted. Being aware of this can at least help you to remain as focused as possible on individual goal accomplishment, as can visualizing an outcome and the satisfaction that this will bring.
8. Embrace Technology to Boost Productivity in the Evening
Technological advancement has been kind to the working man, as it has triggered a series of innovations that aid productivity and help to alleviate hectic schedules. If you are an entrepreneurial individual who combines a full-time, 9-5 job role with the management of a for-profit blog once you have returned home, for example, you can choose from a vast selection of WordPress hosting sites to help keep your content secure and provide automated updates regarding plugins and new themes. By exploring technology and integrating selected innovations into your everyday schedule, you automate multiple processes and save considerable amounts of time.
9. Get Active and Exercise in the Evenings
With all work and professional tasks completed for the day, you can finally enjoy some time to relax, unwind and undertake personal chores around the home. This may also provide you with an ideal opportunity to exercise, however, as cardiovascular activity that is conducted in the evening is rumored to improve your physical performance, create a more alert mental state and negate the desire to snack and lose focus on any additional tasks that requires completion before you go to bed. Evening exercise is also considered to be less rushed than morning work-outs, which means that you can make the most of your time and enjoy a more beneficial physical regime over a concerted period of time.
10. Set a Calm and Soothing Alarm
For individuals who find it difficult to wake naturally in the morning, it is tempting to invest in the loudest and most obnoxious alarm imaginable. This is simply unnecessary, while it is also important to note that waking up suddenly from your sleep does little to improve your level of mental awareness or enthusiasm for the day ahead. Instead, you can rely on your natural circadian rhythms and other environmental signals to guarantee a more peaceful start to the day, aided by soothing sounds from the rain forest or a wake-up light that grows brighter and gradually increases the light level in the room in stages.
Featured photo credit: Becoscky / Flickr via flickr.com