Whether you work from home and need to keep to your strict deadlines, a busy parent who has a million and one jobs to get done or you’re just looking to put aside one day of your weekend to get everything done that you just don’t have time for during the week, these top tips will help you to have an exceptionally productive day from start to finish.
Night Before Prep
Plan for your ideal day
Failing to plan is planning to fail and this could not be more true when you have a lot of tasks that you need to power through. Write a comprehensive list of everything that you’d like to get done and put them into priority order starting with the most important at the top. From this list, pick out your top 3 tasks that absolutely must get done the next day.
Plan or prep your meals for tomorrow
Planning or preparing any of your meals for the next day will help you to stay on track with your tasks. If you’ve already prepped your meals, there’s no thinking involved, no time wasted cooking, you can just grab it and go and move onto the next thing. If you don’t have time to prep, at least have a plan of what you are going to eat to cut down on valuable productive time from perusing the cupboards and fridge wondering what you’re going to eat.
Once you have your top 3 list of must do items, estimate how long each of these tasks is going to take you erring on the side of caution, then use the time block method to plan these into your day. I have a diary which has the hours of 7am to 9pm down the side of the page and I’ll use a highlighter to block out chunks of time. For example, if I know that I need to run an errand outside of the home, I’ll time block from the time it’s going to take me to get to the destination to do the task and the return journey time. The last thing you want to be doing is ‘borrowing’ time from one task to ‘pay’ the next one. This day is about being the most productive you can be but you don’t want to suffer from total burnout while trying to achieve this and it’s likely you won’t be able to stick to a full day.
Plan to succeed
Plan your most intensive tasks at the time of the day you’re most productive. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule your most dreaded, focused task first thing in the morning. Think about the time of day that you are the most productive and plan your tasks around this. I’m definitely more productive around 10am so I know that I can really get stuck into a task around this time of day.
While you may have many jobs that require your attention, be realistic about how much you can physically get done in a day. I love the saying ‘Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a lifetime’, you want to be setting yourself up to succeed so don’t give yourself an impossible task as this will become too daunting and you’re more likely to be less productive as a result when you realise you can’t get everything done that you’d planned.
Set out your clothes for tomorrow
Nothing feels more productive to set you up for the next day than setting out your clothes before you go to bed. I usually plan out my entire wardrobe the night before from underwear to jewellery and set everything out so that I can put it on straight away when I wake up. If you’re that way inclined, you can set out your entire week’s wardrobe by hanging each outfit on a hangar so all you need to do is grab what you’re wearing each day (any jewellery and accessories can be put into little tote bags and attached to the hangar too).
Have an early night
It’s the old cliche and we always think we can skip this step but you must go to bed early. If you’re waking up tired from a late night the night before, you’re not going to be at your most productive no matter how much coffee you consume, so put your electronics away a full hour before bed and get a full night’s sleep.
Let’s get productive!
Get up early
You need to make the most of an entire day to be the most productive so make sure you get up early and don’t hang around scrolling through your phone until midday. If you’re not much of a morning person, set an alarm and put it across the room from you so you have to get out of bed. Once you’re up, put on your clothes that you lay out from the night before and get started, you’ve got no time for procrastination today I’m afraid.
Learn to say no
This isn’t just for others that may be around you but also for yourself. If you’re adding to your to do list that you’d planned out yesterday tell yourself that ‘no, I can do that another time’ unless it’s absolutely essential that you must get it done today. The washing up and housework will still be there tomorrow, unless you’re lucky enough to live with someone that can help you with these tasks.
Limit your distractions
If you are undertaking a task that needs 100% of your attention, make sure you’re giving it the attention it needs. Turn off any radio, TVs and other distractions that might take your focus away from the task at hand. You’ll only leave yourself disappointed when you realise you’ve wasted 10 minutes of your allotted time watching Lol Cats on YouTube instead of whatever it was that you felt needed to get done. The internet isn’t getting shut off any time soon so don’t feel like you are missing out!
Focus on one task at a time
I am terrible at doing this myself and I have to snap myself out of it when I realise that I’m doing it. I’ll be writing a blog post, for example, and then all of a sudden I’ll think ‘oh I’ll just plan some meals for next week’ and before you know it I’ve got two incomplete tasks on my hands. If you really can’t stop your mind from straying, have a notepad with you and jot down anything that springs to mind and then get back to the job you’d set out to do.
Set a timer
This is one of my favourite productive tips when I’m trying to get a lot done in a day. If I don’t have a full block of time for cleaning, for example, I’ll set my timer for 15 minutes and try and get as many cleaning and tidying tasks done as I can in that period of time and not a minute longer. You’ll be surprised what you can get done in a relatively short period of time and it won’t have a knock on effect on your other projects for the day.
Never have empty hands
If you’re around the house and one of your tasks is to tidy up but it’s not a top 3 priority for you, make sure that any time you leave one area to go to the next, you don’t go empty handed. For example, if you’re needing to go to the bathroom, have a quick scan in the room you’re in to see if there’s any washing that needs to be taken up or something else that belongs upstairs. Equally if you’re upstairs and there’s a glass that needs to be washed up, take it down with you.
Accept that you can’t be productive every waking moment
While it’s very inspiring for you to believe that you can be productive from the moment you get up until the moment you fall into bed, this simply isn’t realistic. Make sure that you’re planning in some downtime to your day and that you’re having regular breaks, that way you’ll keep your energy and motivation high throughout the entire day.
Listen to uplifting music
If one of your tasks requires you to be up and about, such as cleaning or organising, listen to music that really gets you moving. Make sure you’ve got a playlist full of upbeat tracks that make you want to get up and scrub that bathroom or organise all of your paperwork, it will also make the task a lot more enjoyable. Check out Spotify and search for ‘cleaning’ and you’ll find a ton of playlists designed for this very occasion.
Limit your personal devices
It’s all too easy during your down time to pick up your phone and have a quick scroll through your social media sites but try and limit this time as much as possible as it’s easy for time to slip away from you without even realising it. It’s also an unwelcome distraction and you might find that your mind will wander more when you’re trying to get focused again.
Check your list as you go
It’s very satisfying to see a list of tasks that you can check off as you go, as you can actually see what you’ve accomplished so far and it will very often motivate you to keep going until you see a fully ticked off list. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t manage to check every item off of your list, as long as you’ve got your top jobs done, anything else is a bonus and you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage them all.
Reward yourself for a job well done
Following on from the above tip, make sure that you reward yourself for accomplishing your top 3 most important tasks, those after all were the real deal breakers. Whether it’s a relaxing evening or a drink out with friends, feel proud of yourself for being the productive person that you were today.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful in creating a perfectly productive day. Let me know in the comments your tips for having a productive day.