1. Prioritize sleep
It may seem counterintuitive, but when you’re at your busiest is when getting sleep matters most. Not just because you physically exhaust yourself 11% faster when running on less than eight hours of sleep; mentally, you are unable to procrastinate. If you commit to going to bed at 10pm every day, no matter what, then your brain will adjust accordingly. Whatever has to get done will get done before bedtime. It’s a self-imposed, daily deadline that will also give you more energy during the day.
2. Make to-do lists that are micro, not macro.
If you’re staring at an over crowded to-do list, it may feel overwhelming. Interspersing short-term needs like “get groceries” with long-term projects, like “annual budget report due December 15th”, can make you unable to get started on anything. By differentiating between short and long-term tasks, and then making the next day’s to-do list every night before bed, you break your to-do’s in to manageable chunks.
3. Do your dishes.
Cleanliness is a underappreciated factor when it comes to productivity. Rationalizing that you are too busy to clean up your room can actually contribute to your feeling swamped. Your mental state often reflects your physical surroundings; when you’re at your busiest, you will benefit most from a clean and organized living space. Cleaning up costs a little bit of time, and can save you a lot.
4. Stay flexible.
When your body is capable of bending to the situation, your mind follows suit. If you’re in a rush in the morning, try waking up a little bit earlier and just stretching. Relax your jaw on your drive to work, or extend your ankles while sitting at your desk. Physical treatments like massages can help as well. When your body is engaged, solutions to your problems tend to become self-evident.
5. Leave your home as early as possible, even if it’s just for a bit.
The difficulty of getting started when working from home has been well documented. Even if you don’t have anywhere to be until later in the day, getting yourself out of the house early can help you feel a surge of energy. Even if it’s just for a morning walk around the block, your brain will feel less cluttered, less trapped in a fixed space, and more capable of focusing on the day. Morning rituals like Yoga or Meditation are also helpful tools for getting a head-start on your schedule.
6. Show up early, and bring a book.
When you arrive to the office early, you have a chance to get settled in and start working from the moment work begins. Conversely, when you’re running late, you often feel like you’re playing catchup all day long. This can be applied to everything in life. From meetings and interviews to doctors appointments, set your calendar events to start 15 minutes early, and honor it. Aside from accounting for things like traffic, weather, and other unforeseen hiccups, showing up early will help you feel more centered throughout your day. If find yourself early with nothing to do, try reading a few pages of a book. Just being in the space will help you feel centered, and able to see everything more clearly.
7. Take a moment for yourself.
Before you leave home in the morning, once you have everything ready, take sixty seconds to just sit. Don’t do anything other than be with your thoughts: You will feel grounded and in control. Rushing out the door can make things feel more hectic than they need to be. A moment of pause can remind you that, though your schedule might be full, you have the time to get to everything.