Daily Habits To Increase Productivity
16 Success Principles To Get More From The Day
“It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln
In the same way, it’s not always about the amount of hours put in each day, but rather what you do with those hours. Everyone gets 24 hours in a day, so what separates the millionaires from the rest? As Tim Ferriss and others have noted, millionaires work SMART by cultivating productive habits and applying them day-in and day-out.
Here are a few habits that I have developed over the years that help me be more productive as a business owner.
Find your passion
Ask not “What do I want?” but “What excites me?” Find something that inspires you and productivity will follow. Four years ago Conor McGregor was an apprentice plumber living on food stamps. But he found his passion and now reigns as the UFC Lightweight Champion of the World.
Wake up early
Here’s a little secret: successful people wake up early. There are 24 hours in a day. The average person sleeps 7 hours, leaving 17 hours of potential. If you need 8 hours of sleep, try waking up 15 minutes earlier each week and after a month your body will be used to 7 hours. Or, just take Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice and “sleep faster” … whatever that means.
Polls show that about 48 percent of American adults now replace meals with snacks at least three times a week — with 61 percent eating their grab-and-go morning meals with whatever is in the fridge. 10% of Americans skip breakfast altogether. If you’re not eating a good breakfast every morning, ask yourself, when’s the last time you didn’t gas up your car because you didn’t have time? How far did you get?
Google “High-Energy Breakfasts” and find something you can see yourself actually making and eating each day. Find a combination that works for your body, time, and budget. I enjoy smoothies. They’re cheap, easy, and you can drink them on the go. For $20 you can buy enough fruit for an entire week’s worth of breakfasts. Usually, I’ll throw something like this into the blender:
- Half a banana
- Handful of strawberries
- Handful of blueberries
- Handful of apple slices
- Handful of cherries
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein
- 1 scoop of green powder
Try mixing in spinach, nuts, whatever fits your taste. A morning smoothie every day for a week will deliver noticeably higher energy levels to enable you to plow through more tasks at work.
Better than Coffee
Get your exercise in the morning
20-30 minutes of exercise can add 4 hours of productivity to your day. Regular exercise produces higher energy levels, increased ability to cope with stress, and greater problem solving abilities. Start getting some exercise and watch your productivity skyrocket. And don’t kid yourself about not having time … that’s BS; everyone has 20 minutes.
What you think about in the morning sets you up for the whole day. STAY AWAY from the news and social media in the morning. Use this time to get focused and get into a positive mood. Whether that’s through meditation, motivation, affirmations, whatever. YouTube is full of inspirational speeches and music to get your fired up. Avoiding attention black holes like social media while using music to set a positive tone are useful in getting focused for your day.
Skip the morning meetings
According to Atlassian, the average office worker spends over 31 hours each month in unproductive meetings. Ask yourself whether you can accomplish the same goals via email or phone.
That’s right, I said it again. Get off Facebook. Turn of CNN, Fox News or whatever you watch. And turn off all your notifications. These are all HUGE time suckers.
This one deserves it’s own sub-section. For most people, email is a necessity for communication – whether you love it or hate it. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave a tab open in your browser and check it every 5 minutes. Emailing is a task in and of itself and responding to emails and sifting through all the junk mail in your inbox can suck up your whole day if you let it. Set aside one or two time blocks throughout the day to do all your emailing and resist the urge to respond immediately to anything non-urgent.
Unless your job is to make or take calls all day, set your phone aside and turn it off. Text, reply, text, reply … There goes a minute … There goes another minute. A conversation over text can easily last 45 minutes when a 2 minute phone call would suffice. It breaks up the flow of work and the lost time adds up quick. Set a goal for the conversation, schedule a time and make the call. Resist the urge to pick up every time someone calls while you’re working. If it’s important they’ll leave a message and you can call them back.
Some people would stand around the water cooler and gossip all day long if they had it their way. Avoid these people until after hours.
Work with a bunch of Chatty Kathys? Here’s a trick: if you’re trying to knock out work, put your headphones on – whether you are listening to music or not. People casually walking by your office and debating whether or not to come in will think twice before coming in if they see you with your headphones in and looking laser focused.
“Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it, and spend it rather than invest it.” – Jim Rohn
A colleague of mine once told me they typically get about 4 hours of ‘deliverables’ done in a single day. The rest of the time is consumed with administrative paperwork, client communications, logging in and out of various softwares they use to track work and cover their ass in the event of a lawsuit. They were in business for 11 months. 4 hours won’t cut it. Take time in the beginning to streamline these processes and outsource the little things. If you don’t have the budget to outsource, learn the repetitive tasks in your life and become as fast as you can at them.
“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn
Stop wasting time on things that don’t move you towards your goals and on people who don’t deserve it. When you are at work, work. When you are at home, be present.
Successful people are successful because they know where they are going. They set goals. Would you hop in your car for a road trip without a map? People who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. Telling a friend increases this rate to 78%.
Take a short walk in the morning to wake up. While you’re walking, be thinking about all the things you have to do today. When you get back, spend 5 minutes and write it down. Bullet points. Write it down, visualize it. Make it happen.
Put your task list in an order that makes sense.
- Tackle the most important thing first
- Tackle the hardest things first when you have the most energy
- Knock out all the easy little stuff first so you can spend the rest of the day focusing on what’s important without having it all in the back of your mind the whole time
Find what works best for you.
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins
Pack your lunch
Driving to lunch … Sitting in traffic … Waiting in line … Ordering your food … Eating … Talking. Driving back from lunch … Sitting in traffic … Settling back in … Refocusing.
Pack your lunch when you need that extra hour and a half.
Multitasking is less efficient than tackling individual tasks one at a time.. Make a list, allocate a certain amount of time to complete it and stick to it. If you don’t meet your deadline, move on and come back to it at the end of the day or in off-hours if you need to. Don’t spend 80% of your time getting sidetracked on the things that only produce 20% of the results.
Introduce a little competition
“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.” – Mark Cuban
Competition gives you energy and keeps you focused. Compete with yourself and the deadlines you’ve set. Find ways to make whatever you are doing more enjoyable by turning it into a competition.
Take regular breaks & get some exercise
Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Get up, get your blood pumping, clear your head so you can get your focus back. Taking short breaks during long tasks will help you to maintain productivity over the course of the day, while working for hours straight without breaks will lead to fatigue and performance decline.
Make tomorrow’s to-do list today
Before you leave the office, take 5 minutes and make a list for yourself to do in the morning when you get into work tomorrow. This will cut down on the time it takes you to get in the groove and keep you from getting side tracked responding to emails, checking the news, Facebook etc in the morning.
Stop talking about it and just do it
“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” – Les Brown
Take the initiative and just start. Begin. Successful people launch; they get on with it. Unsuccessful people think about it, talk about it, weigh all the pros and cons and by the time they get around to making a decision the window of opportunity has passed. Either that or they’re too tired or something else has come along that requires their immediate attention so they’re forced to push it back another day. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
There’s a myth out there that you’ve got to wait until you feel ready to start. Newsflash: You are almost NEVER going to feel ready. Just make a decision and as Tony Robbins would say, “take massive action.”
And don’t expect things to work the first time. It almost never does. I read a study once that went something like this:
- 50% of people give up after the first try
- 75% of people give up after the second
- 90% of people give up after the third
“That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.” – Steve Jobs
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