The Exact Step by Step Process to Show You How it’s Done
With so many how to’s and lists out there now, it can be overwhelming to read through it all. Especially when you’re looking for quick solutions to become more productive.
The key to productivity is to make the most out of the time you have. Work less time but get more done. But did you know you can actually set yourself up to be productive before the day even begins? In order to do this, you’ve got to take action and be disciplined, but you will find yourself getting more done than you ever have before.
Back when I worked for a health company, I couldn’t understand why at the end of the day, I felt like I had worked so hard all day long but couldn’t articulate what I had actually done. My projects weren’t getting done but I was so busy all day long that I barely had time to break for lunch. I was tired, frustrated, and burnt out at the end of each day.
Every morning I arrived to work, say hi or chit chat briefly with my co-workers, and then sit down to my email and use that to determine what I needed to do that day. Instead of planning ahead and scheduling time to get important projects done first, I made sure everyone else had what they needed before I even started working on what I needed to get done to grow the business.
This all changed when I left the company and started working for myself. At first, I started each day with sitting down to check my email, just like I had done in the past. I structured my day around the requests that came in from others and had very little time left at the end of the day to pursue the projects that contributed to the big picture. Plus I was tired, so even less motivated to start a big project or continue one. I knew I had to change the way I approached my days to be more productive, and so after research, trial, and error, I came up with a fantastic and easy system that can work for almost anyone.
These are the 5 things I do each day (well, every weekday anyway) to ensure that tomorrow is not only positive and productive, but that I am contributing to my overall happiness, health, and business goals.
1. Make a list of your accomplishments and your gratitudes.
Block out some time every day, either at the end of your work day or before you go to bed, to think about what happened that day and what you’ve accomplished. What did you get done that you really needed to do? What was something you consider a win for yourself, either personally or professionally? Maybe you finally signed that new client you’ve been after or you cleaned out your closet and donated a bag of clothes you don’t wear anymore.
Now think about what you are grateful for today. Are you grateful that you took the train to work instead of having to drive in rush hour traffic? Are you grateful that your children are old enough now to pack their own lunches for school?
Step 1: Write out a list of everything you accomplished today.
Step 2: Then make a separate list of what you are grateful for.
After doing this, you can see what you’ve accomplished today, what greatness you have in your life, and you’re now in a positive and focused state of mind. You’re ready to tackle the next step to setting yourself up for a productive day.
2. Plan your schedule and priorities the night before.
Scheduling out your day the night before based on your priorities keeps you on track all day long to get the things done that require you to be productive. It’s no secret that planning ahead is a solid strategy for being productive and staying on track. It may seem like this makes you less flexible, but it actually allows you to be proactive instead of reactive. If you wait and decide what to do throughout your day instead of following your schedule, you run the risk of losing sight of your priorities and allowing other people and distractions to dictate your day instead of you taking control of it.
3. Meditate and visualize the next day.
Meditation is good for your mental and physical health because it relaxes both your mind and your body. This helps you really wind down from the current day and mentally prepare for what is ahead for tomorrow. It also provides you the opportunity to reflect on the current day, think about what happened or didn’t, and be conscious of the adjustments you want to make for the day that follows.
Some people prefer visualization (although the two practices can be combined if you’d like). It makes you more prepared for the day to come and in turn more confident and clear on your goals and projected actions.
I like to lay in bed for 5-10 minutes each night after I create my schedule and visualize what tomorrow will be like. Picture where you will go and what you will do. The power of the mind is amazing and visualizing can absolutely help you get more accomplished since you’ve already thought about it and can picture it happening.
Step 1: Sit or lay somewhere quiet. Take a few minutes to reflect on your current day. Clear your mind of everything else besides what has already happened that day and reflect on your thoughts and feelings you’ve had throughout the day.
Step 2: Then take a few more minutes to visualize what tomorrow will be like. You’ve already created your schedule, so have an idea of what you will do and where you will be.
Now you are ready to lay down and sleep. But before you do, make sure you set yourself up for a good night’s sleep with this next step.
4. Disconnect from technology at least 1 hour before you go to bed.
Turn off your cell phone, don’t use your iPad, and certainly don’t check your email before you go to bed. You’re in a good state of mind right now to lay down and fall asleep, so don’t ruin it by checking your email or looking at Facebook. You run the risk of being reactive yet again and it will be more difficult to shut off your brain for sleep once you’ve opened yourself up to these external stimuli.
Research has shown that any sort of light or media stimuli makes it more difficult for your brain to shut off at night, plus interrupts sleep cycles making for a more restless quality of sleep. The study found that people who used iPads before going to sleep had reduced levels of melatonin (a hormone that helps induce sleepiness) and spent less time in REM sleep despite getting 8 hours of sleep.
Instead of checking your phone and using your tablet, read a book. Reading is more productive than watching TV or surfing the web and it’ll help make your eyes feel nice and heavy and ready for sleep.
My husband picks up a big old boring textbook from his college days when he’s having trouble sleeping. Try it out if you’re having difficulties finding something to read that doesn’t keep you too stimulated for sleep.
Step 1: Get rid of the technology. Don’t have it accessible when you go to sleep and you can’t be tempted to grab something to use right before you lay your head down on your pillow. Put your tablet, your laptop, and whatever other distracting devices you have away and out of reach.
Step 2: Put your phone on silent (or ideally, turn it off completely!). I have a light that flashes on my phone when an alert comes in, so I turn my phone on silent and then flip it over so the light has no way of peeking through to wake me up.
Step 3: Read a book. It’s good for you, will make your eyes feel heavy if they aren’t already, and it’s a great way to decompress before lights out.
You’re finally ready to hit the hay and you’ve earned it! But none of this matters if you don’t follow the last and final step to set yourself up for a great day tomorrow.
5. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
It is critical to allow yourself to get enough sleep for the next day or you’re already at a disadvantage for making the most of tomorrow. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. We need sleep in order to survive just as much as we need food, water, and oxygen.
Sleeping helps increase productivity, happiness, and leads to better decision making. Getting enough sleep every night also increases focus, attention, and creativity. Plus, it lowers your stress levels and reduces the risk of depression.
Take it from Arianna Huffington, the incredibly successful and productive co-founder and editor in chief of the Huffington Post. If you want to know how to succeed, get more sleep.
This is the most simple, and yet most important step, to being productive before your day even begins.
Step 1: Go to bed 8-10 hours before you plan to get up in the morning. Allow more time if you’re going through the first few steps of the productivity process as your nightly ritual instead of at the end of your work day. Going to bed an hour (or more) earlier than you plan to fall asleep gives you time to relax, unwind, reflect on today and get mentally prepared for tomorrow.
I do realize that getting 7-9 hours of sleep is unrealistic for everyone to be able to do every day, but do your best to make sleep a priority on most nights. Things will come up that won’t allow you to get the recommended sleep here and there. If you’re a parent, especially of a baby or young child, you may not ever get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. But that’s when we need to be flexible and do what we can to get a nap in at some point during the day. Or let the housework go for a couple days so you can get to bed earlier and catch up on sleep.
The key point here is to take ACTION. That is why I’ve written out this detailed step by step process for each of the 5 ways to get yourself ready for tomorrow. If you actually do these things and stick with it, you are guaranteed to get more done in less time, be more in control of each and every day you stick with this process, and feel happy and accomplished as you celebrate the small wins you achieve all day long.
Great job at setting yourself up for another successful and productive day tomorrow!
Want to make it even easier to follow through? Download my FREE worksheet that takes you through this step by step process by visiting my website at http://www.smartbusinessmom.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathleen Eberhardt Kobel is the founder of SmartBusinessMom, where she teaches new mom entrepreneurs about the foundations of online business and how to get more done in less time by increasing productivity, implementing automation systems, and mastering work-life balance techniques. She has extensive experience starting and growing businesses online and believes in empowering moms to do the same. Connect with @KathleenKobel on Twitter.