One of the biggest things I do is "time chunk". Time chunking – and fine tuning the practice – allows me to work with optimum productivity. It’s worth trying in some form or another because it removes a decision from the process of doing: what to do and when to do it.
Another set of practices I put into play are outlined in my manifesto: http://productivityist.com/blog/the-way-of-the-productivityist-a-manifesto
I talk about a lot of other strategies over at my website, and in my e-book "The Productivityist Workbook".
Planning my day is the most important thing I do.
I do what I call my "8 for the Day" which is just a simple list of the 8 things I want to accomplish. I always make 6 work tasks, 2 personal tasks, on Saturdays I flip that ratio and on Sundays there are no to do's.
I figure if I can't get 8 things done in an 8 hour day then I'm not spending my time effectively. It also helps you sit down and physically write what is important to you.
The best bang-for-buck habit would be a solid morning ritual/routine. Have 4-5 things that you line up every morning and can successfully execute and that will get you in the right frame of mind and performance state to have a really productive day.
Discipline is something you build more over time and takes both successfully building habits and staying away from distractions before one day you wake up and realise "oh wait, I'm disciplined now".
As others have mentioned, behaviours like planning your day the night before are also extremely effective.
In my practice working with business leaders and athletes, we identify what successful people do and then tailor the specific behaviors to fit the needs and lifestyle of individual person. Below is how I have tailored the most successful routines to suit my needs.
Musts in the morning:
1. 10 moving minutes (whatever you feel like doing - walk, run, yoga, skipping, weights, stretching, etc).
2. 16-20 ounces of water (important after an 8 hour fast to get the body going with the 10 moving minutes).
3. protein within 30 minutes of waking up (best way to get mind and body ready for the day).
4. take care of myself BEFORE I open up my computer and phone (shower, journal, b-fast, listen to music, etc. to place me in a positive, energetic, and confident mood).
Musts during the day:
1. Feared Things First (whatever is on my to-do list that I fear or don't want to do. Feared things first makes the rest of the day much better!)
2. research says that best time to exercise is either noon or between 5-7pm (helps with sleeping and people are generally more energized during those times. Plus it's a great break from work).
3. Musts at night:
1. Natural Calm (a fabulous magnesium drink to calm the mind and muscles before bed).
***When you take care of yourself first, you are better equipped to take care of everyone and everything else in your day.
***Remember, it best to tweak successful habits to best suit your needs. Feel free to contact me to help you plan the best daily ritual for your life.
Create a Not To Do list....
Put it as first page in your binder, planner, phone, etc. Review it as part of your daily kickoff routine (15mins min) as you're making your "To Do" list for the day. Empower yourself to say No if it's on the "Not To Do" and either delegate or destroy the task.
I'd be happy to talk further about a regular "15 Magic Minutes" morning routine.
I wake up every morning and I exercise, I then drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon and honey. These things help me rejuvenate and feel like I have made a good start to the day. I try to avoid sleeping during the day in order to feel more active. I try to sleep early at the same time everyday. This ensures discipline and positivity in my life. I try to write and read everyday to increase my vocabulary and knowledge.
To be very frank with you, everyone has his/her own schedule which is unique to his or her well-being in life, but all of it suffers due to digital devices. Most of the time it is the digital devices that hamper our productive schedule. Digital devices have deafened our senses, benumbed us from feeling anything deep and scattered our attention. Doing one thing at a time is incredibly important when attaining peak performance and focus. As an extension of this, we could start working on being in the now. Pull all our attention to one point.
When I was addicted to digital devices, I was constantly bombarded by beeps, unaware of what I was ingesting at any given time as I held my phone in one hand and food in the other. It all changed when I started to be, breathe, feel, smell, think, touch, listen and live deeply. I stopped my digital entanglement and took time off just to drink coffee. I started savouring it sip by sip. Whenever I cooked, I fully smelt the aroma of the roasted cashew nut and sensed its texture. When I washed clothes or dishes, I felt each drop of water and the stickiness of the vessels, respectively. When I folded dresses, I smelled their freshness.
The ten following steps will raise your happiness to a whole new level. I recommend doing at least three of them daily.
2. Dance and listen to music you love
3. Spend time with your loved ones
4. Indulge in your favourite activity such as watching movies, reading books, or playing your favourite game
5. Splurge on an outfit that makes you feel great
6. Get a makeover, be it a hairstyle or a facial, and wear accessories that make you feel special
7. Decorate your space with inspiring pictures, sceneries, flowers, and objects
8. Appreciate everything from a good coffee to a kind act by a stranger
9. Take a nap
10. Meditate – Use crystals while meditating if you can.
Before we talk about getting into Flow, let us look at why we shift from device to device and jump from website to website. What saps our attention and makes us vulnerable to distractions? When would we trade the work at hand for a random text?
When we are bored, we look around, check the time and our phones, and jump at the opportune moment to get away from a conversation. However, when we are talking to our best friend, we lose track of time and are immersed in conversation. It is the same with work. We are tempted to switch tasks when we are bored. In other words, when the job at hand is not stimulating enough, we seek for an escape and try to find it through other sources. Boredom is a key factor when it comes to employee engagement. Imagine an employee who has no interest in numbers. She is crunching data on an Excel sheet. You can be very sure that she will hop from task to task and click that live streaming app to get the latest updates from her favourite show or sports event at the very first chance she gets.
How does it feel to be in the Flow state? In Flow, you are no longer “doing”. You are one with the task you are performing. You are no longer aware of your body or of problems. You don’t even feel hungry or tired. In these moments, it seems your body and identity have disappeared from your consciousness and that time has ceased to exist. In such a state, your attention is centered on one particular action and you ignore all the other stimuli. All your concentration is used up on that one action. What is so special about being in Flow?
Flow is a world in itself where you create, get to discover abilities which you never knew existed inside you, and where your confidence makes you feel like you are on top of the world.
The answer lies in paying attention. Attention is an important executive skill. To become attentive, you first need to understand how your brain works. It is difficult to sustain your attention on a task for too long. For that to happen, the action should be stimulating and engaging.
Follow this two-step process to arrive in Flow:
1. Up your skills and challenge yourself: I suggest developing a skill related to your passion/profession; if you are a coder, learn a new programming language or master an upcoming technology and keep sharpening that skill. Then engage in activities that are intellectually challenging. For instance, try and join a project in which you can display the newly acquired skill and receive feedback from superiors. Take on challenges like hackathons. Keep growing by enriching and enlarging your portfolio. Jump on and embrace the newly evolving areas in your field. Include variety in your daily tasks. You will have no moment to waste and each minute will be rewarding.
2. Filling up the brain’s fuel tank: Our brain has limited resources and it needs to be replenished every now and then as it is prone to exhaustion. We cannot focus on one activity for an exceptionally long time as our attention can begin to dwindle. In such a scenario, how do you fuel your brain? That is right. You take a break. A strategic timeout helps your mind and body to regroup and resume work with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm. As it is difficult for the brain to handle the same task for a long time, we can try to make things easy for our brains if we alternate a high stimulus activity with a low stimulus one. Say for example, we might engage in a friendly chat with a co-worker after a hard task. The brain will get charged in this process. Keep two things in mind however: do not reach for your devices during breaks, and do not take breaks for longer than 15 minutes.
Morning rituals of these world-famous personalities may give you some idea what to choose for yourself:
i. Elon Musk spends 30-minutes going through “critical emails,” grabs a cup of coffee, showers, and heads into the office.
ii. Mark Zuckerberg does not wake up too early. But, when he does, his routine involves working out or running, eating breakfast, getting dressed, and heading over to Facebook headquarters.
iii. When Oprah wakes-up she brushes her teeth, walks her dogs, works out, meditates, eats a healthy breakfast, and goes over her schedule for the day.
iv. Arianna Huffington does not use an alarm clock. In fact, she does not look at phone until she has done practicing mindfulness for a couple of minutes.
v. Richard Branson rises at five am — gets in some cardio through tennis or running and eats breakfast with his family. He then checks his emails and reads the news.
vi. Tony Robbins does not have a set wake-up time. But when he does get up he jumps into a pool or into a cryotherapy tank. He then practices mindfulness and consumes a protein-heavy breakfast.
vii. Jeff Bezos also does not rely on alarm clocks. After waking up naturally, he has breakfast with his wife and blocks out his schedule.
If you do want to create an exclusive most productive schedule. keep the following things in your mind:
1. Creating a morning routine:
a) Wake-up before everyone else. This gives you a chance to email, read, write, meditate, or plan out your day without being distracted.
b) Exercise, meditate, and eat healthy. This should be common sense. But, laying in bed and eating donuts won’t give you the energy to make it through the day.
c) Set goals for the day. As noted in “The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People,” “People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50 percent more likely to feel confident they will attain their goals and 32 percent more likely to feel in control of their lives.”
d) Review your calendar. This way you know what to expect for the day. Also, it ensures that you can address any scheduling conflicts before it’s too late.
e) Spend time doing something you love. This could be eating breakfast, walking your dog, or working on a hobby. It puts things in perspective. It also puts you in a good mood.
2. Focus on three big tasks for the day — starting with your frog: If you are constantly putting out fires or working on smaller tasks, you are not going to ever be able to work on your larger goals. Whether you do this the night before or in the morning, list your three big and most important tasks for the day. These should be at the top of your to-do-list. You should base your schedule around these three tasks and eliminate all distractions. For example, if you block out from 9 am to 11 am in your calendar to work on your first big task, then turn off your phone and all notifications from email or social media. If you do not have an office with a door, put on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. You may also want to work somewhere else like a coffee shop. Not sure which task to start with? I suggest you start with eating the frog first. This is not literally eating a frog. It is actually the thing that you do not want to do, but absolutely need to get done. You may not want to do this task because it is challenging or unpleasant. But, if you do not complete it, it will linger with you all day. However, if you just go ahead and eat the frog first thing in the morning the rest of the day will much easier and productive. Not only do you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, you also feel accomplished. And you can now use that momentum to cross-off the remaining two tasks you planned for the day.
3. Take the middle of the day off: However, if you just go ahead and eat the frog first thing in the morning the rest of the day will much easier and productive. Not only do you feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, you also feel accomplished. And you can now use that momentum to cross-off the remaining two tasks you planned for the day. Take the middle of the day off. The world’s most productive persons — plan their work schedules around when they are most productive. That means if you are a night owl, then waking up at dawn may be counterproductive. However, since most people are more productive in the morning, specifically a couple of hours after they have woken up, it is not a bad idea to take the middle of the day off.
Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter and Medium, workouts out during the middle of the day. “I used to go to the gym first thing in the morning. Exercise is, of course, great for energy levels and I believe it makes me more productive no matter what. But energy and focus naturally ebb and flow throughout the day,” explains Williams. “My focus is usually great first thing in the morning, so going to the gym first is a trade-off of very productive time. Instead, I have started going mid-morning or late afternoon (especially on days I work late). It feels weird (at first) to leave the office in the middle of the day, but total time spent is nearly the same with higher energy and focus across the board.” Business Insider’s Alexa Pipia also tried out exercising in the middle of the day. Pipa found that she was more productive in the morning, took fewer breaks throughout the day, and drank less coffee.
4. Schedule calls and meetings in the afternoon: Thanks to our natural circadian rhythm, we all tend to experience afternoon brain fog. Instead of trying to fight it, grab a snack and take a power nap if possible. Next, review your goals and the progress that you have already made so far. This can give you the motivation the get through the rest of the day. Speaking of which. Because your energy is not at high in the afternoon, you should spend busy work instead of more creative and challenging work. This means working on soft tasks like returning calls and attending meetings. In fact, 3pm has been found to be the best time for meetings.
5. Follow the 52-17 rule: We all need to take frequent breaks throughout the day in order to stay fresh and operate at a high capacity. Therefore, so many people have embraced the Pomodoro Technique. However, after tracking the habits of their top 10 percent most productive users, Desktop found that the ideal average for success is 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest. Even if you do not work for 52 minutes exactly, the idea is that you need breaks to recharge, refocus, and avoid burnout. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.
There are six steps in the original technique:
1. Decide on the task to be done.
2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
3. Work on the task.
4. End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
5. If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes) and then return to step 2; otherwise continue to step 6.
6. After four Pomodoro’s, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
6. Create theme days: Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, and Square, spends 8-hours per day at each company. How on Earth can he productive then? “The only way to do this is to be very disciplined and very practiced and the way I found that works for me is I theme my days,” explains Dorsey. “So, on Monday at both companies I focus on management and running the company which is—we have our directional meeting at Square, and we have our OpCom meeting at Twitter. I do all my management one-on-ones on that day,” he adds. “Tuesday is focused on product. Wednesday is focused on marketing and communications and growth. Thursday is focused on developers and partnerships and Friday is focused on the company and the culture and recruiting.” Dorsey takes Saturday off and goes hiking. He uses Sunday to reflect and plan for the upcoming week. The reason why these theme days are so effective is that it keeps Dorsey focused. And, if he is interrupted, he can quickly deal with it and jump right back into what he was working on.
7. Avoid decisions: Have you wondered why Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs always wore the same outfits? It is not because they were lazy or lacked fashion sense. They were simply reserving their mental energy. It turns out that as the day goes on, the ability to make smart decisions decreases. By making fewer decisions on something like an outfit, productive people are preventing decision fatigue. Productive people avoid decision fatigue by automating and streamlining as many non-essential decisions as possible. This could be laying out your clothes before bed, making all of your meals on Sunday, and using calendar software to automatically schedule meetings.
8. Batch tasks together: I know that there are some people you can write a blog post while talking on the phone. That is incredibly impressive considering that multitasking reduces the quality of your work. The reason? Because you are switching attention between tasks, you’re not giving 100 percent of your focus to each task. In fact, the University of Michigan found that productivity decreases by 40 percent when people attempted to do two or more things at once. Additional research from Stanford also shows that multitaskers may be a price cognitively. Instead of multitasking, try batching. This is where you group similar tasks together and work on them during one chunk of time. For example, this could be making all your phones in an hour block of time or cranking out all your content in the same afternoon.
9. Keep your routine flexible: While a schedule can keep you focused and organized; you do not want to block out ever since hour of the day. That is why some productive and successful people opt to schedule in white space in their calendars. Begin scheduling in white space and see a whole new you. White space is just time that you set aside throughout the day where you reflect, meditate, or just catch your breath. I know what you are thinking. “But I don’t have any time in my hectic schedule to do nothing.” One way around this is when you schedule a meeting that last for 30-minutes, block out 40-minutes in your calendar. This way you have 10 minutes before or after the meeting to whatever you like. It is a tactic that’s been used by LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Jeff Bezos. Another option is kept entire days open. Tim Ferriss, for example, does not plan much on Mondays and Fridays.
10. Relax in the evening: Even though productive people have had a busy and fulfilling, they also tend to take the evenings off. The reason? It gives them a chance to recharge for tomorrow. But what exactly do they do when they are not working? They relax and enjoy activities that reduce stress. According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby. (The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.)
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath