Recently I was contacted my Kabbage.com asking me to put together a post answering the question, what are my five essentials for productivity? Kabbage is a community that helps entrepreneurs succeed with their goals. You should check out their site if you are interested.
This idea of my five essential tools for productivity got me thinking. What tools do I use to stay focused and on task? What does my most productive day look like? To answer these questions I went through my most productive day and pin pointed my five essentials for productivity.
My Day Starts
My most productive day starts with an early wake up call. I am the poster child for the early bird. I rarely sleep past 8am, (maybe on New Years Day). When I do sleep in past my normal 7am wake up time I feel like I am missing out. You can get SO MUCH done before noon if you commit yourself. Those early morning hours are always my most productive and set the tone for my whole day. The house is quiet, its cool and there is lots of light. I can workout and clean and have everything in working order before my morning shower. Mornings make me feel happy and inspire me to do the best in my day.
Essential Tool for Productivity #1: Morning Workout
Right along with getting my butt out of bed bright and early is literally getting my butt moving. Nothing gets me more energized and ready to go than an awesome sweat session. Plus, getting a workout into my day is being productive. I am most likely to workout in the morning, that’s when I have the most energy and motivation. If I can get that run/strength session/Pilates in bright and early, I am set on the healthy and productive path for the rest of the day.
Essential Tool for Productivity #2: Good Food and Lots of Water
To get lots done in a day you need lots of fuel. Putting good food and lots of water in my body makes me feel good. When I feel good I do more. If I have a sugary breakfast or skip lunch and eat too many treats I start to feel like a slug. I end up getting stuck to the couch and the day seems to slip into nothingness. Before I know it nothing has been accomplished and I have wasted my time. I hate wasting time!
The second part to this combination is water or tea. Having a big cup of water or tea beside me not only refreshes and hydrates me, it gives me a sneaky break from my work. When I am home working away on a project I often need time to process. This can mean getting up and moving around. Sometimes when I am processing I will get distracted by the TV or something else and abandon what I need to get done. Making a cup of tea is a short task that gets me out of my chair, with a purpose, and gives me just enough of a break to feel good and recharge before getting back to work.
Moving Into the Afternoon
During my most productive day, I have worked out, cleaned the house, eaten breakfast, done the dishes, showered and am working on my to-do list well before noon. This is exactly the way I like it. I have a lot of energy bouncing around inside of me. When I have a lot of sit down jobs to get done, like school work, emails, job applications, blog posts or anything else, I need to get some of that energy out before I can get started. All of that morning stuff was important, productive work but it also tires me out. Being slightly tired helps settle my brain and lets me focus in on my other tasks.
Essential for Productivity #3: Lists and Calendars
This is a big one. I am a list person. I like to make long lists with very specific things on them. That way, even if I do a small part of a larger task, I can scratch something off of my list. I write lists on my computer, in my day planner, in my notebook and on sticky notes EVERYWHERE. When I am stressed out about a large task or a busy week I write a list. Having a list of everything I need to accomplish puts me at ease and lets me digest everything I need to do. I also put all of my personal and professional tasks on one list. That way, by the time I sit down at my desk around noon, I can scratch off a few things that I got done in the morning. There`s nothing more motivating than scratching something off my list!
When you got shopping with me for a new day planner, count on it taking a while and possibly drive you to crave wine or hard liquor. Or at least that is what Josh says. I am very particular about my day planner. It has to have large spots for writing lists on each day. It also needs to have monthly calendars for the entire year all together in one spot. That way I can look at my whole year at once. This is something I picked up in University. Say you were looking at October and all of the assignments and tests you had for October. Then the end of October came on a Tuesday and all of a sudden its November, but you haven’t looked at your November calendar and didn’t think about that essay that was due on Thursday. Perhaps you are an organized person that can remember to flip through a few pages to check out November, but I am not. I need to see every month right next to each other so I can take in everything with no surprises.
Fighting The Afternoon Slump
When the afternoon comes along I have hopefully gotten quite a few things off of that to-do list and am starting to slow my productivity speed. I usually get a sleepy slump around 2. If taking a nap is out of the question I have to find ways to wake up and get back to work. This sometimes looks like reaching into the cookie jar or scouring for something salty. Since I try my hardest to steer myself towards the healthier option that tea or a healthy snack really comes in handy here. Another option might be my essential tool for productivity #4.
Essential Tool for Productivity #4: Songza
I am not always a music person. I usually choose the house to be nice and quiet when I am trying to work. But there are times when a little music motivates me to keep going, get that dusting done or pump out a few more reps. I love to use Songza when I am working around the house, need an energy boost or am just hanging out. I love that you can pick your activity and the site will give you different options of playlists. This lets me discover music I might not have otherwise heard of. Hearing new and different music motivates me and makes my work fun.
Winding Down in the Evening
As the day wears on I definitely take time to relax and unwind. By evening time I have crossed everything off of my list for the day and I am done. My body and mind are tired and its time to relax and have some fun. If there is anything left to do it will probably get put on a list for another day. If I have had my most productive day I am feeling accomplished and proud of what I have done. Its okay to leave things for another time.
Essential for Productivity #5: A Clean Space
There is one more thing that I need in order to be productive. If there is one thing I might spend time during my evening getting done it is this, cleaning up. I can’t feel comfortable in my space if it is not clean. I don’t mean sterile clean, I just need neat and tidy. Clean counter tops, sinks a made bed are musts. I always take time before doing any other task to make sure I am in a neat environment. This sometimes means cleaning up the night before to make sure that everything I need is done.
Thanks for sharing in my most productive day! I hope my tools and ideas have inspired you to build your most productive day. Get motivated, get moving and get things done. And at the end of it all make sure to get a good nights sleep.