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How to Make Every Day More Productive (and More Meaningful)

How to Make Every Day More Productive (and More Meaningful)

I don’t need to tell you you’re busy. We all are, and while there’s much to be said about making time to relax and implementing ways to manage stress, we can’t just ignore our to-do lists, right? We’ve all got a lot on our plates, and we’re all doing our best to juggle responsibilities carefully and keep all balls in the air. It logically follows that it would behoove us to find a way to work more efficiently in order to get a ton of stuff done in a day.

But why stop at getting a lot of things done? Why not map out a strategy that ensures you’re getting a lot of high-impact, purposeful things done as well? It sounds like a lofty goal to aim for oncelet alone dailybut with a little planning, it’s relatively easy to ensure you’re spending your time wisely every day. Here’s how:

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Determine When You’re at Your Best

Consider your typical day, from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep—when are you on your A-game? Most of us are naturally more energetic, creative, motivated, etc. at a specific time of day than any other, and it’s a predictable time slot because it’s the same over and over again. Some of us do our best work immediately upon waking, while some of us need coffee and a bit of time to wake up to get cranking at full speed. Others don’t hit their groove until the afternoon or evening hours, and, of course, the night owls among us pump out masterpieces while the rest of the world sleeps.

Knowing when you’re most productive is fantastic self knowledge to have, and you should be taking steps to maximize the potential this block of time affords. This change alone can have a significant impact on your daily output.

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Outline & Prioritize Your Goals

In an overall, big-picture sense, what are you trying to achieve? It’s best to consider your long term goals—as opposed to small, daily to-dos—to make the very best use of your time. Why fly through your list only to realize you’ve made very little progress in the areas you truly care about?

A one-year timeframe might work well here in choosing the right kind of goals to focus on. Examples of aspirations that fit with this exercise would be scoring a promotion at work, making progress in a fitness or weight loss pursuit, or getting some creative projects into production.

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Once you’ve identified what you’re shooting for, you’ll need to prioritize, and rank your goals in order of importance.

Plan Accordingly

This is as simple as matching your best self to your most important goal, and repeating the process until you’ve structured your most productive day. Let’s imagine your goals rank like this: 1) weight loss 2) creative projects 3) promotion at work. Let’s also imagine you’ve determined you’re at your very best in the morning, after you’ve had some time to wake up.

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Your re-worked schedule might look like this: Wake up extra early, have some coffee, and spend some time reading, listening to music, or whatever gets your creative juices flowing. Once fully awake, hit the gym and give it your all (best self). Afterward, spend an hour or two on creative endeavors (second best self) before heading into work (third best self).

This is a basic, yet often overlooked practice to put in place, and it’s easy to see how doing so can help you squeeze the most out of your day.

Do you structure your day mindfully? What else can we do to hack our schedules?

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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3. Still No Action

More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

4. Flicker of Hope Left

You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

5. Fading Quickly

Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

6. Vow to Yourself

Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

1. Feeling Eager and Energized

This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

2. Plan

Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

3. Resistance

Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

4. Confront Those Feelings

Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

5. Put Results Before Comfort

You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

6. Repeat

Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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Final Thoughts

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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