When you’re trying to do something great, there’s never quite enough time. We wake up early and stay up way past a reasonable bedtime just to squeeze that extra hour or two out of the day. As a society, we’re burning the candle at both ends and not getting enough sleep. We push for achievement, even at the expense of our health.
No matter what industry you’re in—whether you’re trying to change the game by creating new software or starting a legal practice—there are layers to the job. There’s keeping track of budgets, figuring out marketing campaigns, making sure people are doing their jobs. The list is never-ending. So what can you do to maximize your day without sacrificing sleep or health?
Let Technology Help
According to Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour-Workweek, there are ways to maintain and increase weekly output using technology. Let virtual assistants schedule your meetings, use time-tracking software to determine where your time is going, and break down bigger projects like updating your website using project planning tools.
Programs like Toggl and Timely help you keep track of every second of your day, while Trello can help you block out precisely what you’re working on every week. There are also apps for your desktop that block social media so you can avoid distraction. That alone may save several hours of mindless scrolling or going down a comments section rabbit hole.
Another step toward productivity would be to delete social media from your phone altogether, so those times when you find yourself glancing at Instagram are instead spent doing something productive.
Streamline Things Around the Office
Can you find ways to automate deliveries or ordering? What about ordering new parts or snacks for the fridge? Amazon can send you rotating orders every month for lots of goods, most grocery stores have some kind of shopping programs and pretty much just about everything else can be controlled from your iPhone. (Smart lighting systems, temp control, email forwarding to name a few.) Think of small ways to shave off five minutes here and there, which will add up into an hour or two if you drill down into your processes.
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Stop Obsessively Checking Your Email
If you’re one of those people who’s continuously digging around your inbox, set a time in the morning and the afternoon to responding to emails and avoid checking it in between. Without boundaries on your email time, you’ll never catch up. Worried you’ll miss out on something important? Set push notifications to see what’s coming in and know what you need to respond to immediately. But before responding to anything you see, stop and ask yourself it it’s really urgent of it could wait until your next email check-in.
We waste so much time checking and responding to emails that the Washington Post created a “depressing email calculator” to help us fathom how much cumulative time is wasted by email over the course of our careers. Do yourself a favor and install Slack or another quick-messaging tool. Don’t spend your time crafting the perfect email. Instead, answer questions in real-time.
Set a Morning Routine
Strong morning routines help you prepare for the day ahead. They ease you into everything you have coming up and make sure that you’re in the right mindset. If your morning routine consists of rolling out of bed, making coffee, getting dressed, and running out the door as fast as you can, you may not be in the most productive frame of mind when you arrive at the office.
Before anything else, make sure that you are going to bed early enough to allow for a little extra time in the mornings, even if it’s just an extra half hour. Your morning routine starts the night before, when you get the rest you need to be productive.
Light exercise like a walk around the block can help get your energy up, while a nutritious breakfast will give you the energy you need to stay focused through the rest of the day. Find the routine that works for you and stick to it, whatever that looks like. The increased productivity you’ll experience from starting your morning off on the right foot will more than make up for the extra time you spend in the morning.
Go Ahead, Take a Break
Breaks are not a sign of weakness. In fact, they come recommended by scientists and doctors, who encourage taking frequent short breaks throughout the work day. So while we love to praise the dedicated employees who quickly scarf down a salad at their desk and work straight through to the evening, you will actually do more for your productivity if you take a few short breaks that allow you to disengage from work entirely. Get a chance of scenery. Take a lap around the office or a quick walk outside. Find somewhere quiet and plug into a meditation app for a few minutes. Chat with a colleague about something outside of work.
Getting the most out of your day requires focusing on what matters, cutting down time spent on what doesn’t, and also finding solutions to make you more efficient and productive. However you try to maximize your workday, make sure you’re doing so with your health in mind—both physical and mental. Take breaks. Avoid your phone. Get enough sleep.
What tips do you have for being more productive with your day? We’d love to know. Drop a comment or tweet us. Whatever you prefer, we’ll be listening. For more fun ways to live your best life, check out the ScaleFactor blog – and as always, thanks for reading.