I’ve done a lot of reading on productivity, focus and smart work. In today’s world most of us have a tonne of work to do and not much time to do it in.
I made a list of basic ideas which I either found through some research or came up with myself; these are things that have really worked well for me. I hope you find something useful out of these ideas so that you can give yourself a leg up in getting your work done.
1. Make a to-do list for your day but make it the previous night
When I make a list for myself for the next day, I make it an intention to do all those things the previous evening itself. Allow your mind to keep going over the things you have to do – before you sleep, and right when you wake up in the morning.
When you’re setting out your intentions for the next day, your leveraging the power of two very big forces – Intention and Expectation.
Obviously, you can’t fully know something that’s in the future.
There may be some speed bumps in your day, despite the best intentions and expectations. That’s just life.
But that’s alright. Because you’ve charted out what you intend to do. And this is going to help you navigate your day and do the best you possibly can.
2. Visualise your to-do list
Visualisation helps so many people do so many things.
One of the reasons I write out my day the previous evening is so that the next morning, when I’m ready to get down to it, I start by visualising in my mind each and every task I’ve laid out for myself.
Try and see if it works for you.
Books like The Secret have us believing that visualisation is a miracle way to get what you want.
Let me tell you, I’m personally not sold on the miracle part. But I am sure about the fact that the visualisations in my mind help my brain work at its hardest – both consciously and subconsciously – and therefore lets me achieve everything I had listed out.
3. Nutrition matters…a lot.
It’s important to remember that it isn’t only what you put into your body (which is, of course, vital) but equally, how much of it you put into your body.
When you stop eating only when you’re absolutely full, your brain and your body actually slow down.
Because your body has to now focus on getting all that food digested prperly. Your blood is circulated into your digestive system more than anywhere else and that’s usually the reason many of us feel drowsy after a heavy lunch.
Sometimes we’ll like something so much, we keep at it and we don’t even realise till we’re pretty bloated.
This is one of the worst enemies of productivity.
So what’s the solution?
No, it certainly isn’t starving yourself half to death.
I’m saying you just have to experiment and find your balance.
There is no magic number of calories which will help you work most efficiently. You have to experiment a little to find your own magic number.
For me, that’s when I feel about 75% full. I’m not hungry anymore and I can still get plenty done afterwards.
One exception to this is breakfast. A good, hardy and balanced breakfast will power you through your day.
Something else you can try is a brisk 15 minute walk after every meal. Studies show that this kind of exercise is more beneficial to our bodies than one long 30-45 minute walk every day.
4. Take breaks, but make them smart breaks
We all know how important it is to take breaks between work so that we can work at our best.
But I’ve found that it’s also important to use those breaks efficiently.
My breaks used to be mindless TV/YouTube or getting lost in my thoughts or doodling or just random goofing off.
At times, breaks would also cut into my work/productivity time, because mindless things can get addictive.
Instead, I thought, what if my breaks could actually re-energise me (which is what a break is intended for anyway, isn’t it)?
What if when I took my break, I did something so fun, that I could completely focus on my work for the next couple of hours?
That’s when I started taking smart breaks and inspirational breaks.
For me, this was watching YouTube videos, funny and otherwise, of people that I looked up to. Like, say, Oprah Winfrey, Emma Watson, Lilly Singh, Elon Musk, Mark Ruffalo etc. These videos give me a wonderful break from my work, yet at the same time inspire me to stand up, take some accountability and be my best.
I encourage you to experiment and figure out what sort of FUN things also inspire and motivate you.
5. Get your sleep right
Overlooked? Also yes.
That’s why this point is here.
You need to sleep and sleep right!
Neither oversleeping, nor undersleeping. You’ve got to get it right.
This is, without a doubt, the most important thing that can re-fresh, rejuvenate and turbo-energise us into having a great day.
Well that’s all fine, but it’s definitely something easier said than done.
I don’t always sleep well either, but over time, I’ve figured out the ingredients I need so that I can give myself the best shot at sleeping soundly.
- I need to get some moderate to strenuous exercise in my day
- I need to have read something calming before bed
- I can’t eat spicy or exciting things before sleeping. I need to eat light during dinner.
- I need almost complete darkness.
- I need to have have two glasses of water before sleeping
- I feel the most energised when I sleep for 7-7.5 hours
It took me a while to figure out these basic prerequsites for me, and I definitely do have the odd bad night despite these things being in place.
But it’s important that each of us figures out what works for us – there’s no magic formula for great sleep. Some people might respond great to some calming lavender chamomile tea or some aromatherapy.
Whatever it is, try some ideas out! And make sure to keep me in the loop by telling me some of your own tips and tricks in the comments…