8 TIPS FOR A PRODUCTIVE DAY
You know the drill. Drink enough water. Get enough sleep. Write a list, check it twice. It’s all been said many times already and yes, I am about to do it once more. My ‘tips’ are not in any order - they are just what work for me and allow me to be my most productive self. Yay!
Literal fuel for the human body. Without it, we crash.
When I drink 2-3 litres of water a day I feel my absolute best. You will rarely find me without my 1 litre glass water bottle. I even go as far as not letting Russell drink from it because I am fanatical about keeping track. Days where I hardly get any water due to either being busy or just straight up forgetful, I feel it by 5pm. I am sluggish, I feel weak and tired and then the effects hit hard the day after. I feel like it is harder to wake up, harder to get the day started and I find myself hungrier…which definitely makes my mood unpleasant!
For me, water makes me feel like I am thriving, l feel fresh and alert.
It can seem like a difficult task fitting in 2-3 litres of water to our daily lifestyle, but it is crucial for our mind and body to function at its best. I found the easiest way for me to track my water intake is to use a water bottle that is 1litre. This way you can visually see your progress through out the day and often I will notice if I am behind and it encourages me to take a few big gulps and stay on track.
On that note….go drink a big glass of water. You’ll thank me, and yourself after!
If you’re inadequately nourished, it’s difficult to be productive. I have found over a few years of trialing different eating patterns that I feel my best when eating a whole foods plant based diet. Especially first thing in the morning. Getting a nutritious meal in first thing in the morning is vital, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Once you’re full with clean, nutrient dense foods you can focus on tackling whatever is ahead and have the energy needed to do so.
For me, examples of breakfast include:
A bunch of fruit and some nuts.
Smoothies with water or almond milk, loaded with green leafy vegetables and fruit.
Raw granola, plant milk and coconut yogurt.
Home made oatmeal with plant milk, banana and peanut butter.
Wholemeal toast and smashed avocado (favourite in winter!)
How you feel after a nutritious meal as opposed to a junk food meal is worlds apart. Our brains struggle to stay alert and clear if they’re being fed high amounts of sodium and empty calories which are low in fibre and essential nutrients/ minerals. Of course junk food is delicious and we all love to indulge in it but it should be a seen only as an occasional treat, not a daily meal source and definitely not as a breakfast foods.
Goals should scare you, motivate you, and drive you. Writing a list for what the next day holds helps you wake up with a map of the day. Making the list a checklist gives you something to focus on as you actively need to cross off each thing. In the morning, check over it and assign the tasks in order of urgency and least desirable. Lists aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but they are, in my opinion, important for productivity. They help you feel in control, like you’ve already got a head start on the day. I usually write mine down on a notes app on my phone and delete them as I complete them.
No goal is to big or to small. Right now, maybe the idea of achieving one goal or task for the day is like committing to climbing Mount Everest. I get it. I have been there, boy oh boy have I been there. If your current Mount Everest is getting out of bed, taking a shower then getting back into bed - good for you! I am so proud of you and you should be proud of yourself! I encourage you to read this strangers response to a cry for help from someone terribly unmotivated:
“No more zeros. I'm not saying you gotta bust an essay out everyday, that's not the point. The point I'm trying to make is that you have to make yourself, promise yourself, that the new SYSTEM you live in is a NON-ZERO system. Didnt' do anything all fucking day and it's 11:58 PM? Write one sentence. One pushup. Read one page of that chapter. One. Because one is non zero. You feel me?” - No Zero Days (click the link to be taken to the persons post and then the strangers motivating response)
If you’re new to setting daily or weekly goals, start small and build from there. Don’t put too much expectation on yourself either. This can cause anxiety, stress and has the potential to burn you out. Always listen to your body and if you can only achieve one thing each day for a week - then that’s okay! Congratulate yourself on every thing you do that helps out the future you. Be proud of yourself and never stop being your own biggest supporter!
We’ve heard it over and over and over again. From our parents. Our teachers. Our co workers. Our doctors. GET. ENOUGH. SLEEP. We KNOW we need to sleep….so why don’t we? It all falls down to routine. Figure out how many hours you need to properly function and then build your night time routine around that and be strict about it. Encourage sleep with routine actions such as making a warm tea, doing your skin care routine, turning your phone onto airplane mode and dimming all lights at the same time every night. For me, my routine looks like this:
Around 9-9:30 make hot chamomile tea
Go upstairs and start night time skin care routine (sometimes Russ joins), brush teeth
Turn Himalayan salt lamp on in our bedroom and turn on a relaxing sounds playlist
Shut down all social media and turn phone onto airplane mode
Drink tea while reading or talking to russ, then lights out!
For years I relied on Zopiclone to help me fall asleep every night but it never kept me asleep. I have found chamomile tea to be very helpful. I also use Relax Melodies, an app I downloaded to my phone which plays relaxing music that you can choose from their pre-made list or you can create your own mixes from their sounds yourself. I set the timer to play the music for 8 hours and this really helps my mind shut off. I focus on the music and if I wake up in the middle of the night I find it really calming and comforting. I have been victim to middle of the night panic attacks so having soothing sounds helps prevent them for me. If I wake up and my anxiety is bubbling, I focus my mind on the music and it is almost like meditating myself back to sleep.
I also recommend keeping a sleep journal for a month. Track how many hours you sleep and how you feel the next day. Write down what you ate / drank two hours before bed and also things like how productive you were that day and if you stuck to your routine. Everything in life is about making your own recipe for success in everything you do. It can take bakers and chefs months and even years to perfect a recipe. so don’t expect immediate results when you first start creating a successful routine. Once you’ve figured out what works best for you - you will feel in control and productive.
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
Aka - get the worst done first. Prioritise emails that require immediate attention, have any tasks you’ve been delaying up first - (your ‘frog'/s’) then, you can sail through the rest of the day knowing your worst task is out of the way. No matter what your frog is, once you’ve eaten it - you should feel less tense, more motivated to work, or you might just take a well deserved break! Stress can cause a lot of pressure on the body so in order to be productive, you need to prioritise breaks as well.
The best way to prioritise is to find your ‘critical tasks’, these are the ones that absolutely must get done. A good way to identify them is think if everything on your list was to be delayed, what would cause the worst problems down the line. Eg: If you need to clean the bathrooms, vacuum the house, wash the clothes, and your pets are out of food which task would you get done first? Other than feeling slobby, delaying all the cleaning wouldn’t usually have a huge impact on your life, but if an emergency comes up and you don’t have any food for your pets, that’s going to cause by far the biggest issue, so you’ve found your ‘critical task’.
Knowing in advance what tasks you have for the day can be really helpful for you to organize and prioritise. This is where number 3 comes in - Lists / Goals. If you know you have a lot to do and it’s causing you stress, writing it all out and visually seeing it can be helpful for you to be productive. Alternatively it can also work in reverse, if you slowly chip away at the easy tasks first, you might find yourself getting the 2nd, 3rd and 4th done faster than anticipated! It’s all about experimenting / trial and error.
Designing a good morning routine allows your day to start off smoothly. The more often you can wake up and enjoy your routine / find yourself feeling great after, the more likely you are to stick with it. Getting up at the same time is one the best ways to start that, again, this is where lists come in handy as they are something you can look at and help visualize how you will spend your day.
There’s some research around having a limited number of meaningful choices our brains can make in a day, it’s called ‘decision fatigue’. The best way to combat this is by having a very easy to follow morning routine that doesn’t require any decision making. There are a large amount of choices that need to be made in the morning and they all seem very simple, but they add up. What time to get up, what outfit to wear, do you need a jacket / umbrella, what to eat for breakfast, is your bag for work / school packed, do you need anything extra to bring with you for your day. All of these decisions are much more exhausting when half asleep and in a hurry. The best piece of advice I have is to get everything you need ready the night before. Pack your bag, pre make your lunch, lay out your outfit for the day, check the weather for tomorrow, do this before your night time routine and you will thank yourself every morning when you roll out of bed in a daze.
Remember that even if your day starts out bad, you have the control to switch it around. Running late, forgetting to charge your phone, skipping breakfast - these are annoying and negative ways to a productive day started. Your mind is very powerful, keep pushing forward with positive self talk and you will be grateful at the end of the day that you were able to turn the bad into good and finish the day feeling accomplished and proud of yourself!
Amidst the chaos and business of our every day lives, it is easy to lose touch with what truly matters. It becomes harder to remind yourself what you are grateful for when you allow yourself to focus on the negative / stressful things happening in your life.
Gratitude is significantly associated with happiness and it is something I try to practice everyday. I like to take 5-20 minutes to reflect on what makes me happy and what I am grateful for presently. I either do this mentally or in a journal. I love writing my thoughts down into a journal as I can draw and doodle and create visuals that make me happy. I also listen to affirmations and write down ones I resonate with. Reminding yourself what you are grateful for can really help keep you motivated to push through any challenges you’re facing. It can help productivity by giving yourself a little break and giving yourself a pep talk, feeding your mind with all the things you’re grateful for.
Reflection can be done in many ways. Here, I am not talking about looking in the mirror and examining your physical appearance.
“Human self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence”. - Wikipedia.
I’m wanting to open you up to true self reflection … internal examination of your mind. Ask yourself who were you last year, who are you now and who do you want to be next year. Ask yourself why you react in certain ways, why you steer clear of certain things and certain people, ask yourself what it is that’s bringing you stress and what it is that you can do to overcome it and prevent it again in the future. Ask yourself these questions so you can understand who you are, learn about what truly makes you sink down and raises you up and in turn - encourage self growth.
Not only will reflection and gratitude encourage love for yourself and happiness within you, it will give you time to unwind, reboot and reflect your happiness onto those around you. Taking some time every day to appreciate what you have and to appreciate your loved ones will improve your state of mind and give you some clarity when the times get tough.
When trying to be productive, any type of negativity, be it internal or external, has the power to slow you down and prevent you from starting / finishing what you’ve set out to do. Even if you do manage to complete it, there is a chance it won’t be at your full potential (which will make you end up feeling even worse). You can wind up finding yourself stuck with productivity delays that can last hours, days and even weeks or months. When negativity appears, this is when the good stuff can jump in to help motivate you, keep productivity up, and make your internal self defence stronger.
What is the good stuff, exactly? The good stuff is anything that positively affects you and fuels you to be productive. Examples include: motivational podcasts, compliments from friends / complimenting someone, spreading love and kindness….(do not underestimate the power of smiling at a stranger or helping someone in need), exercises that make you breathe deeply and sweat, big bear hugs from a loved one or just gold old fashion uncontrollable belly laughter that makes you certain for a moment you might never stop. The good stuff gives you clarity, energy, drive, and a ‘feel good’ feeling that is like a wave you want to keep riding.
For me, the good stuff I feed myself with is positive affirmations that are inspiring which I read and recite. I like getting advice from a loved one, occasionally I don’t even want or need advice, just a good venting session does the trick! I like to get onto my yoga mat for a quick stretch or get outside for a walk around the neighbourhood - I find these help ground me and allow me to reflect on what I am currently trying to achieve and mentally fight any negativity - again, internally or externally.
What uplifts and motivates someone else, isn’t necessarily going to be the right recipe for you. Pay attention to what truly makes you feel good and note it down. Ask yourself what has helped you feel super motivated in past situations? Don’t be afraid to dive deep inside your mind and really dig around to answer these questions. Finding your good stuff will allow you to take back control when your day starts off bad, when a negative thought pops up….when life is doing absolutely everything and anything it can to throw difficult obstacles in your way to prevent your goals and dreams and even just daily tasks to be achieved.
Be proud of yourself and be kind to yourself. You can get through anything and you can achieve anything. The strength is in you, you just need to find what lifts it up.
This turned out to be much longer than I anticipated (story of my life when I talk / tell a story) but I do hope the information here helps you in some way!
Much love always,