How to have a productive day? is a quest for many. A productive day is an ideal day that we all look for but is challenging, especially with distractions and everything urgent. However, there are a few things you can do to have a productive day.
I am someone who gets in a grumpy mood at the end of the day if I feel I had an unproductive day or did not achieve the expectations from the day. And over a period I have found a few ways to ensure, I have a productive day at work or a productive day at home and avoid the grumpy me.
In this post, I am sharing 10 simple ways to be productive so you can ensure to make the best use of your time and makes every day more productive.
Let’s have a look at how you can plan a productive day.
10 tips to plan a productive day
Here are 10 tips to help you make the most effective use of your time and have a productive day.
1. Prioritize your To-do list
To have a productive day, you need to exactly know all the tasks that you need to complete. At the same time, productivity is not just about the tasks that one has to finish but also, ensuring to do them effectively and the right way. To do this you must keep a running To-Do list of all the tasks that you need to complete and each day keep adding tasks to it as and when you come across them. Do not rely on your memory and put it down on paper. Having a task listed on a To-Do list will ensure it is taken care of and not forgotten.
You should read my post 10 Ways To Make An Effective To-Do List. For certain repetitive tasks, I like to make master lists to save time you may like to read my post 20 Lists to make to organize your life and 12 Master Lists you must make to be organized at work
Also, in order to be productive you must not prioritize your work. You must take the tasks that are important or carry huge consequences as a priority. And delegate tasks that are not important. In case you do not have the option to delegate tasks to others you should reconsider them and evaluate if they are necessary. To know more about prioritizing work read my post on How to prioritize work tasks.
2. Plan your day the night before
To have a productive day, I highly recommend planning your day the night before. By doing this you are very clear on the things you need to do today. Planning your day in advance helps you be more effective as you can sketch your day well based on your priorities and not get carried away by the day and others’ schedules. When you plan your day in advance you can start your day immediately with the work at hand rather than wasting time thinking about what to do. I can vouch for this as the day when I miss planning my day, I lose time and also get distracted easily.
So, always at the end of your day, spend a few minutes looking at your To-Do list and plan your next day with actionable items. List out tasks to be completed the next day, phone calls, emails you need to make, Meetings, and appointments to addend. Once you are done with this identify the time at which you will be doing it.
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3. Identify 3 non-negotiable tasks
Based on your task list and priorities identified when planning your productive day, always include a maximum of 3 most important tasks that you need to complete on the day. These tasks should be a significant part of your To-Do list and must definitely be completed on the day. Do not try to plan more than 3 in a day as it may not be possible to complete and these significant tasks will mostly consume more time compared to trivial tasks also these kinds of tasks tend to be more energy demanding and you may not be able to stay up with your plan if it is not realistic.
You must always schedule your non-negotiable tasks during the time of day you are most energetic or when you have the least distraction such as the morning hour.
4. Review your current schedule
In order to plan a productive day you must first, review your current day and in order to plan your day well. When reviewing you must consider things like:
- Which tasks take most of your time
- Things that distract you
- How long you take to complete different tasks
- Things you find challenging to complete
- Your energy level throughout the day
Once you have reviewed your day, identify things that are promoters and those that are detractors. All the things that are enablers i.e those that help you have a productive day must be part of your day or explored more to make the most of it. All those that are disablers i.e things that lower your productivity must be eliminated or limited in your routine.
5. Limit distractions
In order to have a productive day you must get away from distractions as they reduce your focus and result in a waste of time. Identify the things that most commonly distract you and make means to limit or avoid them.
I find notifications from my phone distract me and break my focus. At times I lose my train of thought with notification interruption. So, not I turn off all the notifications when I sit for a deep work session. At work, people interrupt most often, in that case, I like to put on headphones,s and this limits people from disturbing me.
You will need to identify things that are distracting you and try to eliminate them throughout your day and if that is not possible try to limit them to avoid waste of time and focus and increase your productivity.
6. Identify your power hours
Power hours are the time duration when a person is able to intensely focus on a particular task. You are in good energy and very effective during these hours. You should identify your power hours and try to plan critical thinking tasks during that part of the day. I also, feel that our energy also affects productivity. When I am late for lunch or have missed my lunch at work, my energy levels drop and I am not at the best of my mental capabilities to think well. That’s the reason why I like to schedule the most critical tasks in the first part of the morning as I feel more productive during that time also when the most important work is done I feel much more calm and under control.
You must find your most productive hour and make the most of it. Not necessarily all are most productive in the morning some people find nights more productive, also your environment defines your productive hours too, when I was working from home, the time my daughter use to take her afternoon nap was the most productive hour for me. You can read this post to find your productive hours.
7. Use timeboxing
One of the most effective time management techniques is to use timeboxing, Timeboxing is a technique where you allot specific time for a particular task and put all efforts to ensure the task is completed within the stipulated time frame. The deadline you set for the task allows you to stay focused and productive. You are less distracted and more productive. I like to timebox the most critical task or my nonnegotiable tasks so that I am more positive to complete them. Routine mundane tasks like answering emails, etc. can be batched together to be completed together for a specific time block. Timeboxing when practiced the right way can help you get the most done and make you feel very productive, you can read my post Timeboxing at work: An effective way to get the most done.
You can also use the Pomodoro technique during your timebox schedule. Essentially you set a timer for 25 minutes and work uninterrupted followed by a 5-minute break and again start your deep work season for another 25 minutes as per your timebox schedule. After 4 Pomodoro sessions, you take a 15-minute break. This way you can work very productively.
8. Build routines
Having a daily routine is a good way to have a productive day. When you build and follow a routine you put less stress on yourself each day on making basic decisions, by following a particular routine you nurture your mind to take care of the tasks and it knows what to expect next. In this way, our mind knows what to expect next and avoids overwhelm. When you are building a routine try to make them as per your need to reap the most benefit of it. The most common routines that you should have is a morning routine and an evening routine.
I highly recommend having a morning routine so that you can have the right start for the day, and the way we start our day defines our productivity for the day. You can read my post on 5 steps to build a morning routine before work to make your productive day morning routine, for more morning routine ideas read 50 Good morning routine ideas that suit everyone.
P.S. You may also like to read Simple After work evening routine to keep you sane and Real Daily Routine For Working Moms
9. Schedule breaks
Productivity is not only about doing tasks but doing work effectively. To work effectively without burnout your mind and body need rest. Many of us feel guilty when we take a break from our work. But taking a break allows you to be more focused, and improves your performance and creativity. When you are rested and relaxed you can be more efficient in your work. Hence you should ensure to take breaks during the day in between your work to have a productive day.
Also, plan work off and vacations to rejuvenate yourself and take breaks. You should unwind at the end of the day to recharge yourself for the next day and continue to keep yourself productive. You should read my post, 5-step system to help you relax and unwind after a busy day.
10. Be well organized
Being organized goes in hand with being productive. When you are organized you save time for looking around for things and can better focus on work. Unorganized people are most distracted and unproductive. Make sure to have a well-organized work desk to be productive, you can read my post on 14 Tips to organize your work desk.
Organization is not just related to physical things but also, to the way you organize your work and time. Being organized helps avoid distractions, saves time, and allows you to have a productive day. By having a process to keep work organized you will be able to make the most efficient use of your time. I am a believer in organization and have written a few related posts on the same, if you would like to be more organized in order to be productive you must read my post on How to be organized at work.
P.S. you may like to read 31 Habits of organized people you need to know.
These are the 10 tips to have a productive day. These tips are effective and simple to follow, when you use these to plan a productive day you will be able to make efficient of your time and efforts and get the most done.
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