Do you ever find yourself shocked at how little you accomplished in a day? I do.
Being naturally analytical I find myself creating mental to-do lists all day long. I wake up and start thinking of the tasks. I usually compartmentalize them. Sometimes I make a list on paper, but never as often as I‘d like.
You and I only have 24 hours. Around 8-12 of them to be truly productive, unless you’re superhuman. How can we use those hours more efficiently?
Here are a few of my goals for using those 24 more efficiently.
1.The 10:30 rule.
Most brains work best when well rested. Let me know if yours if different because that’d be cool! Adequate sleep is essential so before I even think about being productive during the day, so I prioritize my sleep.
Many nights this means following the 10:30 rule. All communication ends around 10:30 pm. Are there exceptions to this? Yes! Many events go way later than 10:30, but my goal is to simulate calm by 10:30 pm. Do I fail? Again, yes! It is very tempting for me to stay up late musing with anyone about interesting topics, but it’s not always beneficial! Balance is key.
What if you can’t sleep? I mentioned how I love night time chats so being quiet often feels like trying to keep a volcano about to explode. Nights where I can’t indulge in discussion, I‘ll hand write out my thoughts, prayers, verses, chapters, etc. in attempt to focus my mind. The physical act of writing, watching the lead transfer to the paper, feeling and thinking without parameters is calming to me.
Perhaps at 10:30 pm you’re still working. Maybe you’re a night owl. Whatever your style is, having a schedule for night time can prove essential for productivity. Try it for a while and see what you think. Every body is different!
2. First thoughts, first actions.
Perhaps your eyelids slowly lift or you‘re out of bed before you‘re fully conscious. Whatever your speed, everyone wakes up. Unless you are dead…in which case, I’m not sure why you‘re still reading this. Happy sleeping!
Anyway, you know the drill. Your eyes open, the light floods in and so do the thoughts. Have you ever considered what is first on your mind?
I like to read one page before I do anything else in those waking moments. If I don’t discipline myself to do this right away, it won’t happen. The act helps my mind focus on one theme before my brain is flooded with potential chaos. No matter how the rest of my morning rolls, I have done this one act. It’s powerful.
3. Flexible till 9:00 am.
My schedule, workouts and daily requirements vary so that I cannot be rigid about the hours before 9:00am. Instead, I have a loose framework for what needs to be done. I aim to remain flexible to the needs of others during this time.
When 9:00am hits I try to focus on one project at a time.
4. Work 20 minutes or 1 hour and then take a break.
Knowing that I can take a break every 20 minutes is major. If I am doing something with lots of negative energy, being intentional with that break time is crucial!
The flip side of this is that being ultra focused (or frustrated) for too long isn’t beneficial either. Taking a 5 minute break every hour is amazing. I used to feel bad for doing this, but now I see the importance of taking breaks! Remembering that our bodies were not designed to only do one task is helpful.
5. Outdoor anything.
Not just great for kids, spending time outside is beneficial for everyone! If you’re looking for better short-term memory, stress-relief, better vision, improved concentration, sharper thinking and creativity, step outside! Even if it only for 20 minutes, the scientific benefits are hard to ignore.
I like variety, so I try to get creative when I go outside. I‘ll go slacklining, walking, clean things, practice when it’s warm, read outside, run, play basketball, whatever. Try something new out of your comfort zone! Doing one fun thing outside is great motivation.
6. Practice communication.
Another daily goal I have is to practice communication. This is a topic I‘ve been studying for a while. I am increasingly intrigued by the complexities and challenges. Being intentional about communicating, whether with clients, students or family is very important to me. If I fail to accomplish other things in that day, knowing that I invested in relationships is powerful and worth sacrificing productivity.
Ah, the elusive act of quiet and calm. I remember as a child I would stare out the window, examining anything and everything. Today I have to force myself to take those 10 seconds.
Slow down and look away for a moment before responding. Step outside of the box of canned thoughts. Stop reading and consider what you’re consuming. It’s powerful…
Now go out and get ’em!
I hope you found this post to be encouraging. If you have further ideas about productivity, let me know in the comments. I am all about learning and researching so I‘d love to hear your thoughts.