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A 10-Minute Exercise Can Make Your Entire Day Run Smoothly

A 10-Minute Exercise Can Make Your Entire Day Run Smoothly
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If you are the type of person who grumbles about how you never have enough of time in a day to do things, you’re not alone. Nevermind doing the things you love; completing things you have to do is difficult, and 24 hours just isn’t enough time to get it all done. I know, I’ve been there.

One day, just like that, a bell might go off in your head telling you that the first 10 minutes of those 24 hours are the most important ones of the day, and those ten minutes decide whether your day will flow smoothly or not.

Let’s take this step-by-step.

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Decide what’s important and what isn’t

Make a list. Write down everything you have to do for the day and make sure you include everything. Add in office-related jobs, house chores, shopping lists, errands, replying to mail, visiting friends and family, lunches, dinners. Include everything.

Now, just mark out those that absolutely have to be done today. These are the only things you will do today. Period. The rest you will schedule for tomorrow or the day after depending on their urgency and importance.

Decide during which part of the day you will do a certain job

Now that you’ve selected the jobs you will do today, you have to schedule them into your day’s plan. You can do this in two ways: One, you can schedule them according to importance or two, you schedule them according to which time of the day you work better. For example, If you are a morning person, do all your thinking jobs during this time—you’ll be alert and things will flow more quickly and smoothly. Keep the routine jobs to a time when you are not functioning at 100%.

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Attach a time limit to each task

This is important. Often, we get too engrossed in a job and end up spending way too much time on it, so set a time limit. Keep an alarm around or set reminders on your phone, and you’ll train your brain to stay focused, work faster, and finish work on time.

Do I really need to spend so much time on this?

Ask yourself whether this job deserves significant importance. If not, lessen the time you’ve planned to spend on it.

Can I delegate?

This is something most people hate to do. Most people think that they’ll end up spending so much time telling a person what to do that they’d rather do it themselves, and this is where they stumble. Doing this means you have more work to do yourself. Now imagine, if you had told someone else to do it, you’d have some more time for yourself.

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One way of dealing with delegation is to break down the job into smaller parts, and explain them thoroughly. This simplifies things for the other person, and it’s also easier to keep things in check and correct along the way instead of seeing it at the end.

To whom can I delegate?

While delegating, remember to pick the right person for the right job. Don’t try mixing things up, especially if you don’t have the luxury of time.

When do I stop?

Come on, I’m sure you have somewhere else to go. To do something fun, or just hang out with friends. To do this you need to know when to stop working, so set a firm deadline, and decide that  you won’t work beyond this point. What’s pending will be scheduled for a later date.

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Relax—the world will not come to a stop if you leave your office on time.

Is this enough?

This is something you need to decide every morning. Bosses love dumping work on people, so it’s up to you to tell them when you have all you can handle. This doesn’t reflect badly on you; in fact, it’s good to be honest. Don’t try to over-promise; instead, under-promise, and over-deliver.

Do this every morning for ten minutes, and the rest of your day will flow much more smoothly.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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