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7 Things You Should Do Today To Make Tomorrow Great

7 Things You Should Do Today To Make Tomorrow Great

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”- L.M.Montgomery

Tomorrow is going to be a great day! How many times have you been able to confidently state that? Not many, if you are like me. But thinking about it, a lot of the things you do today could actually make tomorrow much more productive and really satisfying. Try these hacks to make sure that tomorrow is really not going to be just like today.

“Tomorrow you promise yourself will be different, yet tomorrow is too often a repetition of today. And you will be disappointed again and again.”- James T. McCay

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 1. Check your email later instead of earlier

Procrastination has a loyal and faithful ally called email! Just think that every non-urgent email you read is stealing your time. Your chances of meeting that deadline are fading. Now, if you can mange to resist at least a little bit, you will have got those important things done and it will make tomorrow easier. Always check email towards the end of the day. Set up alerts for urgent ones so you are not missing out.

2. Limit your working hours

Everyone knows that working a 60 or 90 hour week is not nearly as productive as a 40 hour one. Our productivity goes down the hill rapidly as fatigue and weariness set in. Here is what I did. I made a pact with myself that I had to leave the office at 17.30 on the dot on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I had to get to my gym class. I told myself that I was free to work later to get urgent stuff done on the other three days. It worked like a charm. By doing this I was able to:

  • Become active after a sedentary day at the desk
  • Improve my work life balance
  • Boost my mood after the release of endorphins
  • Detach myself from that awful job

Not bad for one strategy. I also found that I was less stressed and I did not feel overwhelmed by too much work the next day. On the contrary, I was more rested and better able to face new challenges.

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3. Make a list of top priority tasks

It is much better to make a list at the end of today for tomorrow. First, you can see what needs to be done and what deadline you cannot afford to miss. Think about how today went and how you can improve on it. You can cross off things that can really be postponed. This will give you a sense of empowerment and control. I love crossing off things that have been done or can be put off.

4. De-clutter your space

There is an area of the brain which is activated when we have to give up an object we have become attached to. Look at a well known computer store and see how they have exploited this so that people touch the objects, become attached to them and then buy them!

But a lot of the stuff on our desk is not on sale and is serving no useful purpose at all. It is just taking up valuable space. In addition, it is a brake on your ability to think and act. Be ruthless. Throw everything you do not need and then find an easily identified place such as colored folders for all the rest. Think about the digital clutter too and get folders on your desktop to make things easier to find. So, start the clear out today and tomorrow will be a breeze.

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5. Update with colleagues

Another task to be done towards the end of the day is to check with colleagues and see what is happening with various projects, meetings, and deadlines. This can help you get your list of priorities for tomorrow up to date as you may have to make a few adjustments.

6. Don’t take work home

Now don’t spoil all this planning for tomorrow by taking work home. That will just be prolonging all the stress and invading your free time, thoughts and feelings with the work virus. It also suggests that you have time management problems that you need to address.

 7. Now start telling yourself tomorrow will be great

As you leave the office, start telling yourself that tomorrow is just going to be awesome. You know that you have paved the way beautifully. Pat yourself on the back for having cleared the desk, prioritized your tasks and got rid of a lot of junk into the bargain. Now go home and enjoy yourself!

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“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Featured photo credit: H. Jackson Brown Jr quote/BK via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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