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How To Have The Most Productive Day Of Your Life

How To Have The Most Productive Day Of Your Life

There are many tricks and tips to being productive, but ultimately what people are looking for is that perfect day of work when they’re immensely proud of what they’ve produced. Here is an outline you can follow that might help you achieve the most productive day of your life.

1. Make A To-Do List The Day Before

It’s bad strategy to wait until the day of to make plans. Be sure to make a realistic but ambitious to-do list, either with a great task management app like WunderlistEvernote, or 2Do or just with plain old pen and paper. That way you’ll be ready the next day to sink your teeth into your work.

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2. Fill Your To-Do List With Things You Genuinely Want To Do

The trick to being hyper-productive is to do things that truly interest you. If it’s the most productive day of your life, you probably won’t be doing dishes or picking up dry cleaning, you’ll be dedicating yourself to a passion project. That project should be something that you’ve always wanted to do but never got around to truly committing to. That could be writing a novel, recording a record, or a host of other things. By focusing on your passion you will have all the more motivation to have the most productive day ever.

3. Get A Good Night’s Sleep

The best way to prepare yourself for a productive day is to recharge your batteries to 100 percent. Get at least 8 hours of sleep and don’t use phone or computer screens that will ruin your sleep cycle for a couple hours before bed. I recommend reading a book (a physical one, not an e-book) that really inspires you. A great option is a biography of one of your biggest idols, planting the idea that you can be as accomplished as him.

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4. Wake Up Naturally

If possible, it’s best to avoid the screech of an old-fashioned alarm clock or even the soothing sound of a pleasant ringtone when you wake up. If you got that good night’s sleep I talked about, it should be completely doable to wake up on your own, well-rested and ready to go.

5. Do Your Morning Rituals

Just because this is going to be an extraordinary day doesn’t mean you should avoid your ordinary activities. Go through the daily rituals, whether that be a cup of coffee with the newspaper or a morning run.

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6. Do the Next Thing on the List

Now it’s time to get to work. Getting started is well-documented as one of the hardest parts of productivity, so begin with a task that you really look forward to doing. You’ll start off your day on a high note, which will give you the energy to push through at least a few more things on your to-do list.

7. Keep Checking Off To-Dos

This is when you get most of your work done. With the energy boost you got from that fun first task, get busy on the more grueling stuff. As you’re doing that, keep reminding yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing: so that you can accomplish something truly meaningful today. That knowledge should be a constant driver to push through the fatigue.

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8. Do Your Favorite Thing

Save your absolute favorite task for the end of the day. That way, as you’re pushing through the middle of your workday, you can always remember what you have waiting for you as a reward at the end of the road. Plus, you deserve to treat yourself after you’ve had such an insanely productive day!

Featured photo credit: Matt Gibson via https

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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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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