It doesn’t matter what your vocation or goal is, everyone will benefit from being more productive. As the saying goes, the greatest enemy of success is procrastination. Achieving the impossible is can be done by breaking a large goal down in to small manageable steps and completing them one by one. Here are my personal top 3 tips for ensuring you get the most amount of work done each day.
1. Wake up before 5am
Success leaves clues. When you study the habits of the worlds leading athletes, business owners and personalities, they all wake up early. Dwayne Johnson, probably the most well known and successful actor on the planet, is a huge advocate of waking up at 4am each day. You may not have to be up that early, but if it’s before 5am you’re productivity will go through the roof.
This isn’t just an anecdotal notion though. Studies suggest that will power is actually a finite commodity that gets depleted throughout the day. Therefore, the further in to the day you get, the less will power you will have. What does this mean? Well that procrastination is likely to increase as the day goes on. As will power diminishes, your ability to stay focused on a specific task will be compromised.
By waking up early you will be giving yourself more time in a state where your mind will be clear and will power will be high. If you have something that needs completing that day, then it’s of prime importance to you. If something is very important to you, then it should be done as soon as possible. This is what I’m a big advocate of training early on in the day.
Getting up at 5am means you can reply to emails, read articles, listen to podcast’s or prep food when the rest of the world is still sleeping. Social media will be quiet and the news won’t be on yet. You will be immersed in a world of productivity and tranquility where all your most important tasks get done.
2. Buy a pocket sized note pad
This is something I got advised from one of my long term clients and it’s been a huge game changer for me in regards to productivity. It’s helped me slow my mind down and focus on what’s needed to be done. On any given day I’ll have the intention of writing programmes, writing articles, writing chapters for books, designing recipes, recording podcasts, preparing food, training and studying. The fact of the matter is, there is only so much you can do in one day and more importantly, only so much you can do well.
If I try and do all of these things in one day I find that I actually get very little done and that what I do get done is poor quality. Trying the cram everything in at once creates chaos. With chaos there is no focus. Without focus there is no progression. It wasn’t until I viewed it as a training analogy that I fully understood where I was going wrong. Squat’s, Deadlift’s, Log Presses, Farmer’s walks and sled drags are all great exercises. However try and do them all in one session and the likelihood of longevity with the plan is slim. Learning curve; don’t try and do everything at once.
This lead me to create a system that has been working very well for me. Before going to bed at night, I now write down the 4 most important things I need to do the next day. These 4 things are separated in to different categories based on duration, convenience and topic area. So for example:
- IN THE BUSINESS TASK: Write 12 week diet and training plan for client X, estimated time 45-60 minutes
- ON THE BUSINESS TASK: Record a podcast, estimated time 60-90 minutes
- PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT TASK: Listen to podcast on…… estimated time 60 minutes
- ADMIN TASK: Email clients, log sessions, update business excel sheet, estimated time 20-30 minutes
I will set aside designated time to do the task that will take the longest time. So in this case, writing the client programme. If anything is creative thinking, I will do it as early in the day as possible. Any tasks that can be portable, i.e. listening to content, can be done driving to a from working. Therefore I am saving time and learning simply by listening to information rather than having the radio on in the car. Admin tasks can be done here and there when I have a spare 10-15 minutes available, so in between sessions is ideal.
“Most people over estimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime” – Bill Gates
A key point I would make with this one is to write your goals down and not use the notes feature on your phone. When you go on your phone you can check Facebook, Instagram or text friends. The likelihood of you getting distracted is high. Furthermore, there have been studies that suggest writing goals down have a much more powerful effect on your brain for completing them. Personally, I just find it very satisfying to physically cross something out once you’ve done it. It may be just me, but it’s shows you’re getting stuff done.
The best thing about this is when you do complete everything and you still have more time left in the day, you feel as if you are getting ahead of yourself. You see any further work done as a bonus and a head start on tomorrow’s tasks. This is a great feeling to have.
If a supplement came out that enhanced stress management, increased mental clarity and promoted calmness and a positive state of mind, then it’d be in very high demand. Furthermore, if it reduced the likelihood of eating bad foods, taking drugs and missing days of work it’d save the economy millions, if not billions, of pounds a year.
Now what do you think would happen if this supplement was completely free?
Research has shown that as little as 10 minutes of meditation per day can increase alpha brain wave activity. This has profound effects on both calmness and creativity. In tandem with specific breathing patterns, such as belly breathing, meditation can improve HRV, an indication of physiological stress levels.
Although I’m not 100% clued up on the exact science of meditation (yet), I would say the best analogy I can think of is that it acts as a mini reset button on your brain. Small sessions of mindfulness can aid you in decision making, creative thinking and dealing with both physiological and psychological stressors.
My advice would be to use it with another regenerative systems such as an epsom salt bath. I use this 1-2 times a week as a way of enhancing recovery and improving cognitive performance.
The tips given in this article are very straight forward. The costs are minimal but the benefits are huge. If you’re looking for ways to improve your productivity and work output but without sacrificing too much time or stress, I would highly advise looking to implement these habits in to your lifestyle as soon as you can.
- Barbor, C., 2001. The science of meditation. Psychology Today, 34(3), p.54.
- Baumeister, R.F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M. and Tice, D.M., 1998. Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 74(5), p.1252.
- Horowitz, S., 2010. Health benefits of meditation: What the newest research shows. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 16(4), pp.223-228.
- King, L.A., 2001. The health benefits of writing about life goals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(7), pp.798-807.
- Latham, G.P., 2004. The motivational benefits of goal-setting. The Academy of Management Executive, 18(4), pp.126-129.
- Latham, G.P. and Locke, E.A., 2007. New developments in and directions for goal-setting research. European Psychologist, 12(4), pp.290-300.
- Monk-Turner, E., 2003. The benefits of meditation: experimental findings. The Social Science Journal, 40(3), pp.465-470.
- Rosalba Courtney ND, D.O., 2011. Relationship between dysfunctional breathing patterns and ability to achieve target heart rate variability with features of” coherence” during biofeedback. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 17(3), p.38.
- Sumter, M.T., Monk-Turner, E. and Turner, C., 2009. The benefits of meditation practice in the correctional setting. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 15(1), pp.47-57.
- Wisner, B.L., 2014. An exploratory study of mindfulness meditation for alternative school students: perceived benefits for improving school climate and student functioning. Mindfulness, 6(5), pp.626-638.