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24 Steps for the Most Productive 24-Hour Day

24 Steps for the Most Productive 24-Hour Day

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” is a saying that demonstrates the need for time to create great things. Mastering a skill, craft, or habit can take a long time – sometimes years.

John Heywood, who was an English playwright from hundreds of years ago, put a remarkable twist onto this famous saying: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” According to Heywood, Rome is just the result and the bricks are the system. The system is greater than the goal.

Whether you want to launch a successful business, get promoted to a management position within your company, or invent the next big social media network, in order to reach your goal, a brick by brick approach is going to have to be taken from the moment you get up until the second you fall asleep.

Envisioning the entire day ahead of you can be a daunting task. Whether you have deadlines to meet, a flight to catch or important meetings to attend, making sure you have a positive outlook for the day ahead is crucial for being able to tackle issues and accomplish goals.

Throughout the span of 24 hours, a great deal of work can be achieved for the most productive 24-hour day.

1. Wake Up Early

This might sound difficult to pull off, but doing so will provide you with more time to accomplish important tasks and activities.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook is known for getting up early and sending out company emails at 4:30 in the morning. According to an article by CBS, emails sent from 6 am to 7 am are about three times more likely to be opened than emails sent at 4 pm. Many CEOs and top-level executives wake up in the early morning. What is holding you back?

With limited distractions in the morning, this time has the potential to be your most productive part of the day.

2. Visually See Your Goals

Jeff Gittomore, author of The Sales Bible, suggests that you put your goals in front of your face. Write your goals on Post-It Notes on your bathroom mirror and read them twice a day until they’re accomplished. Then post them on your bedroom mirror.

Visually seeing your goals each and every day will not allow for you to forget about what you are trying to accomplish.  Looking at your goals each day will make your 24-hours more productive.

3. Watch Motivational Videos 

Let’s face it; projects at work aren’t going to go perfectly 100% of the time. It can be hard to stay motivated if something doesn’t go your way. Each day before you open your first email, watch a motivational clip online to get your mindset in the right place.

Zig Ziglar is a master for motivating individuals, businessmen and businesswomen.

When you watch a short and positive video to start the day, your mind will start thinking optimistically, which will provide you with a positive outlook for the day

4. Leave Drama Behind

If you want to be able to concentrate properly at work, there cannot be drama and stress weighing over your head. If you got into an argument with your significant other the night before, make sure to make up before you start the workday.

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According to helpguide.com, emotional intelligence is built by reducing stress. The ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence will help reduce your stress level. This will lead to a more productive day.

5. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

According to WebMD, adults need to eat breakfast each and every day in order to perform at their optimal levels. Eating a wholesome, nutritious morning meal will get your body feeling great.

By recharging your brain and body, you’ll be more efficient in just about everything you do.

6. Write Down Daily Goals

The author of The Sales Bible, Jeffery Gittimore, suggested looking at your long-term goals each and every day.

There is nothing better than accomplishing a task from your “to-do” list and being able to cross it off your checklist. Writing down daily goals will help you stay more organized and accomplish more.

7. Stay Hydrated

When you are putting in long work hours over the course of 24 hours, it is vital to hydrate your body so it can perform mentally and physically at its peak level.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired.

Make sure to drink 8 glasses of water per day and you will see your energy levels over the course of the day start to increase.

8. Check Fewer Emails

In the digital age that we live in, it is hard to unplug from our desktop and mobile devices. This can also result in an obsession with checking email.

When you are constantly checking and responding to emails, you will be less productive with other tasks that you are trying to accomplish.

According to a study out of the University of British Columbia, the average person checks email 15 times a day. Amazingly, the study suggests three times is the right amount to keep added stress away.

Start checking your inbox less frequently and start accomplishing more. You will feel like a completely new person with the added time you have by not obsessing over your inbox J

9. Do Something that Makes You Happy

If you enjoy reading your local newspaper on the weekends, start incorporating this into your daily routine. If you are waking up earlier each day, there will be more time to do activities that you actually enjoy doing.

Life is too short not to enjoy each and every day. Incorporating an activity that makes you happy should be a part of your 24-hour schedule.

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10. Workout

The combination of work and family in addition to errands can make 24-hours seem like a short time span. Even if you don’t have the time for a long workout, doing some type of physical activity will be extremely beneficial for your health.

According to US News & World Report, exercising increases your productivity and gets your endorphins going.

Do a quick set of 25 pushups and 25 sit-ups each and every morning or in the evening before you go to bed. This will get your heart rate going and provide you with more energy.

Your physical and mental health will improve if you incorporate some type of workout into your daily routine.

11. Less Meetings

Thomas Sowell, an American economist, said, “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”

An article from Forbes suggests scheduling meetings for half of the time you originally intended to. If the meeting is scheduled for a shorter time span, the agenda can likely still get covered in a quicker and more efficient manner.

12. Reduced Commute Time

I have a business acquaintance in New York that commutes into the city 90-minutes each way.

Luckily, I am able to walk to my office within 10-minutes based off of the great location of my apartment. By having a much less drastic commute time, I’m able to save 15-hours per week compared to the New York businessman.

Sometimes, your living situation can be hard to change. If you have the opportunity to make your commute shorter, this can greatly increase your effectiveness in the office and enhance your overall style of life outside of the workplace.

Imagine having an extra 3-hours per day for either the gym or to read your favorite magazine? By reducing your commute time, this daily schedule change can become a reality.

13. Do something that makes you uncomfortable

Science has proven that doing something that scares you will make you more productive.

Whether you decide to strike up a conversation in the elevator with a stranger or cold a CEO to try and land a meeting, you should make it a goal each day to do 3-things that make you uncomfortable. Each day

We are creators of habit and are known to get stuck in monotonous routines. Doing something that makes you uncomfortable each day will allow for you to stand out amongst the competition and accomplish goals you never thought could be achieved.

14. Don’t Hold Grudges

The Mayo Clinic states that letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace.

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Grudges typically pertain to events that have happened in the past. Make sure to focus on the present moment and the future and not waste your time on something that can’t be changed from the past.

Confucius said it best. “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”

15. Reach Out to Influencers

Let’s say that you have been reading a specific sports blogs over the past few years and continue to find inspiration from this columnist. You like the content so much that you have contemplated starting your own sports blog!

Find this blogger’s contact information and reach out to him or her! Tell the blogger how much inspiration his or her articles have given you. You will be pleasantly surprised by how often someone will appreciate the kind words and respond to you.

Whether the response is through a tweet or an email, hearing back from someone to whom you look up can provide you with a huge boost of motivation.

If you reach out to someone you admire each day, the influential people that you will end up meeting will amaze you this will drastically grow your network.

16. Write A Journal Entry Each Day

Psychcentral.com states, “There is increasing evidence to support the notion that journaling has a positive impact on physical well-being.”

You can learn a lot from going back in time and looking through all of your journal entries. You will be able to see the growth you have achieved and remember both the good and bad times in your business and personal endeavors.

You never know if the journal entry from today will lead to your next big business endeavor or great invention. Venting in the form of written communication is also a great stress reliever.

17. Face-to-Face Meeting

With our reliance on social media and smart phones, face-to-face interaction seems to be forgotten at times.

Make sure to schedule a face-to-face meeting during your day. Whether this is with your best friend for happy hour or your college professor, it is always a nice feeling when you can talk with someone in-person about what is happening in your life.

If you hold more face-to-face meetings each day, more important events will happen in your life.

18. Don’t Multi-Task

Focus on just one task at a time and do it with your full focus. This creates less stress and will allow for better results and less chaos.

Don’t be scared to turn down projects. There is nothing worse than doing multiple projects with a mediocre result. Instead, focus on one-task and hit a homerun with that project.

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19. Drink Coffee

Some people might not need caffeine in their life, which is a great feat in and of itself!

Having a cup or two of coffee before lunch can give your workday a nice jump-start with the added fuel. Just make sure not to drink too much, otherwise you can be a jittery mess.

Drinking coffee on a daily basis can give you a nice boost of energy to accomplish more over the span of 24-hours.

20. Plan Ahead

At the end of each day, plan ahead and make a “to do” list for all of the tasks you need to accomplish for the following day. Completing and checking off the items on your list will help motivate you to accomplish your project goals. This will also reduce stress when you plan ahead.

Alan Lakein states it best. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

21. Read Often

If you are in the real estate field, reading up on news within the industry help you stay fresh and relevant when it comes to your line of work.

Reading can also help you come up with fresh ideas. After all, if you are reading information pertinent to your industry, there will be many ideas that you have while observing the information.

Even if you read just for pleasure, this will help stimulate your brain on a daily basis while helping you develop more ideas. Start reading each day and incorporating this into your routine!

22. Organized Calendar

Maintaining a calendar for meetings, deadlines and events is an absolute must.

When there are a million and a half things taking place in your day, it is hard to remember information pertaining to the future. An organized calendar will help you be productive for future events.

23. Go to Bed Early

If you are watching television until midnight, you should change your habits and start getting a good eight hours of rest per night. Experts generally recommend seven to nine hours a night for healthy adults.

If you really want to make the most out of your 24-hours, you should start getting a good nights rest so you will have the proper energy to tackle all of the tasks that lay ahead of you.

24. Smile

Researchers at the University of Kansas found that the act of smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health, helping the heart recover more quickly after stressful events.

More people want to be around someone that smiles. If you are happy, you will be amazed with what you will be able to accomplish with an optimistic attitude. Start smiling more each day and enjoying everything that your life has to offer. This will help in many areas of your life.

Featured photo credit: BigStock Photo via bigstockphoto.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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