How happy do you feel with life at the end of a long hard day? Do you feel complete and fulfilled, satisfied with what you have achieved? Or do you feel empty and disappointed, angry at yourself for not being distracted easily? Perhaps your life is composed of good days and bad, times when you have felt both those things. Perhaps it is not days you think of in particular, but life in general that you feel is short-changing you. But little things matter. It is the days that lead to years and how you choose to spend them will have a telling effect on how your life turns out.
You know that implementing certain habits and ways will make your day far more productive than what you usually manage on a regular basis. You also know that you will be better off by doing so. Then what is the barrier that comes in between you and your goals? The answer is simple. It is the human mind. The mind is very good at making excuses and convincing the person why they should not do something. It is why most diets don’t work or why New Year resolutions do not be fulfilled. The mind is a master manipulator and procrastinator. It is extremely reluctant to step out of its comfort zone, the resultant victim being You. If you try out these top ten tips for having a productive day, you have to shut put your mind. For a while at least. Concentrate on cold hard logic and reasoning. By doing so for a considerable length of time, you will have cultivated such good habits that having productive days every day will become a norm. Even your mind won’t be dissuading you any more, since it will have adapted to your new ways. So what are you waiting for? Shut out the traitorous mind and follow your heart. A new and improved quality of life awaits.
1. Eyes on the Goal
Ultimately, days are not isolated components of your life. The intention behind mastering the art of having productive days is to have a happy and successful life. Thus, the best way to keep having such days is to keep your eyes on the goal. You are reading this article because you want advice on how to live your life a certain way. Something propelled that decision. Whenever you are on the point of wavering, remind yourself of that reason. For me it was when I had a nasty epiphany. I realized that if I kept living my life exactly as I do now, then in three years’ time, nothing would change. Though I had a bevy of goals and lists planned, none of them would ever see the light of the day if I changed nothing and continued to live my days exactly as I do them now. Pretty scary thought huh? Don’t let the idea of a mediocre future intimidate you. Tackle the problem at the grassroots. Take each day as it comes, focus on doing the small little tasks well. The big things will automatically take care of themselves. When you tire of the monotony or want to break the rules for a spot of fun, think of the goal you have in mind and how your actions will affect the consequences. No harm in enjoying yourself every once in a while. But when the exception becomes the routine, that’s when you have to be cautious.
2. Love What You Do
Renowned filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor said that he dropped the word career from his vocabulary at the age of twenty four. Today he is a much happier man because of it. His accomplishments speak for themselves. Take a page from his book. Do what you love and love what you do. When you wake up in the morning, the thought of the day ahead should excite you. You should feel stimulated at the tasks that lie ahead. Your brain should welcome the challenge and your heart should revel at the thought of doing things it loves. If you have to drag yourself out of bed with a groan and talk yourself into facing a gruelling day, then know that you are doing something wrong. Life is too short to be miserable. Either change your attitude or change your life. Mary Poppins said that for everything that has to be done, there’s a fun way of doing it. Though in the movie it applied only to little children, I don’t think why adults should be exempt from it. When you are following your dreams and passion in life, then it becomes infinitely more easy to be productive than if you were forcing yourself to do something you don’t really like.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Your day should be a balance of work and play. Periods of recreation will boost positive moods, give a much needed break from work and spurt enthusiasm. By recreation I don’t mean face booking. Social media is a magnetic world and will draw you in, make you lose sense of time. Try to spend at less time online on interactions as possible. Catch up on reading, follow a hobby, listen to music, play with your children and pets or simply sit alone and reflect in solitude. Engaging in pleasurable and positive activities will enhance your creativity, thereby increasing your productivity by default.
This tip goes hand in hand with the organization and prioritization tips. By routine, I don’t mean chalk out every second of every day of your life. But do have a clear drawn out itinerary of your day and what you will roughly be doing at what points of time. Keep enough time for recreation and leisure activities, but schedule the important tasks at the beginning of the day. The principle difference between prioritizing and routine is that the former can be changed on a daily basis. However the routine should be similar for all regular days. Your body will accustom itself to meal times, sleep habits, relaxation and busy periods of work. Your routine should be functional, but not necessarily rigid. Make what changes you want to within the bounds of a flexible framework. As you completely master a certain routine for your life, you will find yourself accomplishing tasks much faster than before and doing them far more efficiently. The combo of discipline, routine, priority and organization will make a magical productive being out of you, you’ll see.
Organization is a crucial element of productivity. Keep your things clutter free and in specific places meant only for them. This goes for your stationery, clothes, shoes and other important things. Not only will this maximise space and comfort, you won’t have to spend valuable time looking for things you might have misplaced. Chart out your schedule clearly. Meetings, memos, tasks and duties should all have a clearly designated time. By leading a well-organized life not only will you be able to exploit your productivity to its complete potential, it will also reduce friction and tension in your tasks and interactions.
This simple tip, if followed religiously, will remove stress magically from your life. It will also ensure that your work is top quality. Target to do the most important things first and the easier tasks later. The serial procrastinator that I was, this seemed horrific at first. My scheme of operation was exactly the opposite. But finishing off my favourite things first gave me nothing to look forward to at the end except mountains of unlikeable work. It was especially hard to accomplish anything worthwhile with such a negative outlook. In the morning, when your mind is fresh and the day long and wide, finish off difficult and important tasks. They take longer. This way you will be able to devote more time and research to them. Keep the fun easy stuff for later. You will have a blast doing it, knowing that no backlog will haunt your dreams.
This has been said before. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How you choose to start your day will determine how productive you are. Waking up early with plenty of time in hand to go about your morning ablutions versus kicking the alarm clock aside and snatching a few extra zzzzz…. Though the latter sounds more attractive, it will rob you of the time to sit and enjoy a power packed meal that will fuel your body throughout the day. Breakfast should be a nutritious meal full of proteins, vitamins and some carbs. Having energy in the first half of the day is so important because it determines the pace of your work. If you are feeling tired, hungry and crabby, as missing breakfast will make you feel, you will not make any worthwhile headway in your work. As the day passes, your stress will only mount, ensuring you finish it on an awful note. If you miss breakfast chronically, then it will have serious health implications in the long run. Sit down to a meal of oats, fruits, brown bread and beans or eggs in the morning and feel good throughout the day.
A sharp and witty mind is of little consolation if the body is ill and sluggish. You will be at the top of your productive game when a fit and healthy body accompanies that sharp clear mind of yours. Most of us lead sedentary lifestyles being cooped up in air conditioned offices or classrooms and libraries. An enormous number of gadgets at our disposal also ensure minimum human effort where daily duties are concerned. All you need to do is exercise twenty minutes a day to increase blood flow and keep the body in good shape. The more time you add to this activity, the better you will look and feel. Your skin will look great, you will have increased stamina, your chances of various diseases will decrease considerably and your lifespan will increase tenfold. If going to the gym bores you to death, try walking, jogging, hiking, jumping rope, yoga. Aerobics, salsa dancing, swimming, kick boxing or playing a favourite sport. If you feel you have time for none of these, then even doing strenuous household chores will take care of your daily exercise needs.
9. Wake Up Early
When in a recent comment Jennifer Lawrence said that she goes to sleep by eleven pm every night, I was surprised at the number of eyebrows raised at the statement. In modern times it has become something of an embarrassment to admit to going to sleep early. But don’t compromise with your body and your productivity in an effort to be cool. Studies show that people who wake up early lead far more full and productive lives than ones who are night owls. The human body is naturally acclimatized with the cycle of the sun. When you stay awake till late in the night, it is a strain your body can ill afford. If you manage to wake up early, you will perfectly synced with the world around you. It is a wonderful way to start the day and an amazing way to be productive throughout.
10. Be Disciplined
There was a time when detested everything about the word Discipline. I was a student and not the master of my own choices. One had to be disciplined to study, bathe, eat, sleep and pee. I remember feeling so liberated when I moved to college and decided discipline will have nothing more to do in my life. The first few months passed by in a haze of independence. Then slowly the changes started registering. The slowed tired body, always sleepy, lack of appetite, insomnia at night, terrible grades, procrastination and lack of overall enthusiasm. The decision to be self-disciplined was very hard to take. It went beyond every grain of belief I held that creativity cannot be bound by the rigours of discipline and that life is best lived spontaneous. Now, a couple of years later, I am a sworn fan of the disciplined way of life. The way it allows one to manage tasks, cultivate good habits and improve health and wellness, it actually allows for way more spontaneity and creativity than an ill disciplined life ever could. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.