Whether you have an eight hour job in the office or have a home-based job, you probably know what a challenge it is to be productive. Based on your experience, you’ve most likely observed that the challenge with being productive comes in maintaining it. The reason being productivity is like mood swings. Sometimes it’s like in a good mood and you can finish your tasks, and sometimes it’s just the opposite mood and nothing gets done.
So how do you maintain it? There are various techniques that you can apply but the strategy that is discussed here is one that will be done regularly and not only when there is a need to be productive. This is because productivity should not only be encouraged when you have several tasks to accomplish but daily, in order to make the most of your time and to keep accomplishing tasks to achieve your dreams or for personal development.
Now, as mentioned, it is a challenge to maintain productivity and although this strategy to encourage productivity is quite easy to follow, it may take some time to successfully make it part of your routine. Hence, be patient and give it a month or so until it becomes less of an effort to keep doing the habit.
What makes Productivity a Challenge?
Before we discuss the method you can adapt to maintain and keep your productivity meter going, let us first look at the specific factors that hinder it. There are basically about three things that contribute to this and these are: distractions, ability to focus, and mood.
You know for sure what these are. Distractions are like air. They’re everywhere and all around you but you don’t notice you’re inhaling them until you consciously become aware of your breathing. When you get distracted by something, you don’t really realize that until you’ve been doing it for a while.
For example, you’re trying to write an article and while you’re doing research, you find an interesting video on Youtube and watch it. Then, watch the next video and the next, and the next. From experience, you’ve probably only realized you’re not doing what you should be until you’ve watched about a handful of videos. See how dangerous distractions are? If you don’t have an excellent ability to focus or eliminate distractions altogether, you’ll be vulnerable to their inconspicuous charm.
Ability to Focus and Mood
Your ability to focus is largely influenced by what mood you have at the start of the day. Ever woken up feeling like you don’t have any energy to get yourself out of bed? Or have you tried waking up like it’s such a beautiful day to accomplish something? Surely you’ve experienced both of these and it’s often an unproductive day for the former.
A common day for waking up with a lazy mood would be to wake up with little to no energy. You feel like your bed is metal and you’re a magnet that’s stuck to it. It’s difficult to get out of bed but when you do manage to drag yourself off it, your body is heavy and your mood is gloomy. Doing everything takes much effort and you find yourself sighing most of the time. You go to work and instead of focusing on what you have to do, you allow yourself to get distracted and procrastinate. Or you do work but it takes so long for you to finish one thing. Hence, at the end of the day, you either accomplished nothing or were only able to do so little.
Now why does this happen? Usually it’s because of stress, lack of as well as too much sleep, being overworked, and the need for rest and relaxation.
How do you Encourage Productivity?
So now you’ve got an idea of the factors that hinder and make productivity difficult to maintain. What can you do to maintain productivity? The way I see it, starting your day with a habit that will reinforce your good mood or correct your bad mood is a good strategy to increase your chances of being productive. Hence, I’ve come up with a morning routine that you can adapt as a habit for continuous productivity. This routine covers limiting if not eliminating distractions and enhancing a good mood or correcting a lazy mood. There are basically six steps to this morning routine and each will be discussed in great detail.
One: Waking Up Early
I’ve always found waking up early to be a good way to start your day. I personally like this because it gives me extra time to do things for myself as well as have ample time to prepare for the day. Don’t you just hate waking up and rushing yourself to the office? Why let yourself rush through taking a bath, eating breakfast, and going to work when you can do all those in a relaxed way? Taking a bath, eating, and preparing for work shouldn’t be done hurriedly like you’re in a race. So wake up early and take your time through each item on your routine.
Does that mean I’ll have to cut down on my sleep hours? Yes, but only if you don’t sleep early, and you don’t want that because then it would defeat the purpose of starting your day right. The key here, then, is to sleep early. Pick out a time wherein you’ll have at least two hours to yourself before you go to work and that will allow you to sleep straight for at least seven to eight hours. If you’re supposed to head to work at eight in the morning, then, ideally, you should wake up at six, which makes your sleeping time to be ten in the evening, the earliest. To allow yourself to sleep early, you need to make sure all your tasks are done before then. Hence, you can’t start on this routine if your schedule is already packed right now. I suggest starting this the following week after you’ve decided to take on this challenge. Sleep early on Sunday, which I assume is a no-work day for you, and then wake up early on Monday.
Easy, right? You’ll probably need to set an alarm for the first few times but later, as your body gets used to the routine, you won’t need that anymore. Also, if you wake up and still feel sleepy like you need more sleep, don’t get back into bed. You don’t need any more sleep because you’ve had at least eight hours of rest and that’s more than enough for your age.
Two: Doing an Exercise Routine
After waking up early, you need to immediately follow that with an activity that will wake you up and set your body to motion. So, exercise. It doesn’t have to be a long and vigorous one because the goal here is not to lose weight but to pump you up with energy. An exercise routine that gets you sweating for about twenty to thirty minutes is good enough. Jogging or brisk walking around the neighborhood or even just around your house will do. Remember to start with a warm up followed by the main exercise and end it with a cool down.
All that sweating and movement will help in blood circulation so despite expelling energy while performing the activity, you actually become energized after you’ve rested. Exercising will also aid in relieving stress so any stress felt throughout the week or just the previous day will be expelled as well. Although not mandatory, it’s a great idea to adapt an exercise routine that requires you to go outside. This is because exposure to sunlight this early in the morning is good for your body. Vitamin D, anyone? Accordingly if the type of routine that you’ve chosen is only done indoors, do it in an area where the sun comes in.
Three: Eating a Healthy Powerful Breakfast
You can’t work with an empty stomach. Hence, having breakfast is essential and as it is the most important meal of the day, you need to make sure what you’re eating gives you the necessary nutrients and energy that will fuel you throughout half of your day.
What is a powerful breakfast? Personally, I think any of the classic breakfast recipes will do as long as you pair it with a healthy drink and a serving of fruit or salad. What I’m talking about here are pancakes, bacon and eggs, and waffles. Yes, these are screaming with carbs but you do need carbohydrates for energy. And anyway, you won’t need to worry about gaining any weight from eating these because you’ll use them up when you do your tasks for the day.
Four: Taking a Refreshing Bath
Once you’ve eaten breakfast and are just about ready to get to work, hit the shower and get yourself a refreshing bath. What I like to do for this is to first bath with warm water, then on the last rinse, I switch to normal running water. In this case, since it’s still quite early, the water is most likely cold, which is just what I want.
The reason for the switch is because warm water will relax your body and tired muscles. The cold water will then close off your pores and give you a shock thereby waking you instead of letting you feel sleepy again and make you head back to bed. You know what I mean. Bathing with warm water is just so relaxing that it actually makes you sleepy. So that splash of icy cold water is just what you need to snap out of its spell.
Five: Preparing Your Work Area
This fifth step is done at work. The goal here is to eliminate and minimize distractions in your work area. That means your desk as well as your immediate surroundings. As soon as you get to the office, don’t immediately start working. First, clear your desk of any mess. Remove papers and files that you’re not going to use for work today. Put whatever you have to work on in a pile at one side of the desk. Leave the center of the table empty because that will be your work area. As for your surroundings, clean up. Tidy up and just fix whatever looks cluttered. Of course, if you maintain an organized and clean office, you won’t need to do so much cleaning in the morning. Hence, it’s ideal to clean up not just before work but also after work.
Aside from the physical appearance of your surroundings, try to keep it quiet. Any music or chatter should be kept at a minimum. Personally, I don’t like music playing in the background when I work because it gets in the way of my thoughts, so in my workspace, there’s no music. On the other hand, if you work better with music, go ahead and have your fill in your workspace. To minimize any chatter and unnecessary loud talking, adapt the rule of the library. Silence must be observed in the office at all times. If there’s a need to talk, it must only be done because it’s necessary, a question must be asked or a discussion must be made. For talk of topics that are totally unrelated to work, save that for break time or keep it at a minimum.
The reason why you need to do all these is because you need to focus in order to accomplish tasks more efficiently. Thus, you need to eliminate or limit your distractions which are manifested in your physical environment as clutter and noise.
Six: Setting Daily Targets
As a final step before you start working, set your daily targets so that you’ll know what to work for and what to do with your day. Simply write down what you need to accomplish on a sheet of paper. In addition to that, also set time deadlines for each so that you won’t be encouraged to work on one task for far too long. Make a rough estimate of how long it will take you to finish it minus procrastination. For example, if the task is to write an article that’s worth 1000 words, you could give that an estimate of an hour and fifteen minutes.
Now, since this is the modern world and everything’s digital now, you could opt to make your target list on your computer or mobile device. There are apps and websites out there that offer just this kind of service. I personally like using Producteev. It’s easy to use. You can put categories for your tasks, set deadlines, and even schedule it as a repeating task if applicable.
It’s also important to point out that in order to limit the time you spend for writing a target list for the day, make it the previous night just before you go to bed. Doing so will only let you spend about five to ten minutes for this activity since you’ll just be reviewing it and not making it from scratch.
It’s an easy to follow routine, isn’t it? I’d like to mention that I set a two hour allowance before you go to work so if you find that there’s still extra time to do a task when you try this out, dedicate that to doing something for yourself. You can choose to increase your exercise time or do some self reflection, meditation, or read a book. Doing so will give you a good mood as you did something nice for yourself and it will act as an incentive. You’re already rewarding yourself this early in the morning so surely that will start you off in a good mood. Now, there’s nothing to lose, but lots to gain by adapting this habit. So try it out and reap its benefits.
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