We all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. And we all have about 16 hours a day of being awake and go about living our lives.
So how come some people are crushing it, yet other people are struggling making ends meet and are having a hard time getting the things done that they ‘need’ to do?
Some would explain that they simply don’t have enough time, and perhaps complaining about too much work or having too many responsibilities – however, are they optimizing the time that they have?
The answer is no. Most people are simply not being their productive self, because they are not controlling the distractions in life, or not having habits that give them enough energy they need throughout the day. Some follow time management practices, and they might even have a strict To-Do list on the refrigerator to hold them accountable. However is this what it takes to get things accomplished? What’s keeping them from moving ahead and reaching their goals better?
Here are my Top 4 tips to help you achieve more. I started to pick up these habits gradually throughout the past decade and this has dramatically changed how I move about my days.
Get more sleep
Yes, when you sleep more, you gain more time. By being well-rested, you are more productive, and you even make better choices than people who are tired and sleep-deprived. Lots of people say that they don’t have to sleep more than 5 or 6 hours, or that they will catch-up some sleep during the weekend (or even worse, during their vacation!). However, the National Sleep Foundation conducted many researches and found that there is a strong relation between sleep and productivity levels.
When you sleep more, you tend to feel more energetic, efficient, joyful and have more clarity. The following are the golden rules I live by to help me get enough sleep:
- Stop any screen activity (whether TV, laptop, tablet, or phone) one hour before going to bed. For me I put everything on airplane mode at 10 PM.
- No more liquids 30 minutes before going to bed to avoid waking up in the middle of the night.
- Don’t have a phone in the bedroom! And no, you really do not have to use your phone as alarm clock. Instead, get an alarm clock.
- Change your bed linens regularly and invest in a good mattress and pillow (your body will thank you too).
Morning routine (energy booster!)
I created a morning routine that allows me to begin my day with a positive attitude and to create peace. Firstly, I set my alarm clock two hours before actually leaving home, so that I allow myself the time to do what is most important. Knowing that morning activities shape your entire day is everything. When I wake up at 6 AM (and after greeting an overjoyed pup) I do at least 30 minutes of meditation, stretching, yoga, writing, or reading an inspirational book. Then the full hour after that, I spent as mindful as possible, whether it’s my shower, preparing and having breakfast or walking my dog. And it’s not until the last few minutes before leaving home that I turn on my phone to check my personal (never work related!) messages.
When you start your day this way, without any (social) media, you are able to focus on what is most important: your life and your goals of the day. And you’re able to be more grounded and live out your intentions for the day.
Controversially, when we start the morning checking our emails and messages, our minds become distracted by someone else’s agenda and we will spend our entire day trying to catch up.
Working out helps us reduce/maintain weight, stay fit, increase our mental alertness, and helps us stay in a positive, healthy frame of mind. It’s important to have a daily schedule that includes exercising. Exercising can look very different from one person to another. For me, I make sure that my every day consist of walking, cycling and yoga. Then 3x a week I schedule cardio and weightlifting activities.
The benefits of exercising are endless. But the most important ones, that result in an increase of your productivity, are for example, the decrease in your stress levels, a good night sleep and feeling more energetic and rested. Of course, always listen to your body to know what form of exercise fits you and that you actually like doing.
Schedule your week ahead
Scheduling is so important, and the more detailed, the better. A good schedule is not a simple to-do list. It needs to consist of activities that includes deadlines. And by reviewing your schedule at the end of each day and each week, you can constantly update and improve your schedule. Also, it gives you a significant boost and it’s exciting to see your achievements!
It is also important for you to schedule some extra time to tackle emergencies and contingencies. This is because frequent interruptions and the unpredictability of our job can eat into our time. Learning how to manage them by scheduling some extra time will give you the required tractability to rearrange your tasks and respond to unforeseen interruptions.
So these are my Top 4 productivity boosters! Once applied and integrated, these changes will leave you feeling on top of everything and may leave you with some extra time during or at the end of the day!
I know it is not easy to change or add routines but try at least 1 of the tips above for 1 month and you will see the results for yourself. And of course cheat days are totally ok, as long as you feel happy and proud. Always set the intention to be better the next day!