The best way to get the most out of your day isn’t to perform a complete overhaul on your life but to incrementally make small adjustments that will better set you up for success. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Looking for suggestions on how to maximize your productivity? Give these tricks a try:
1. Make a to do list.
Establish your intentions for the day early on so you don’t have to spend time trying to remember as you go along. Writing down what you need to accomplish makes it easier to see the specifics. Plus, checking things off feels incredible satisfying!
2. Get your blood pumping.
Not everyone has time to complete an entire workout before heading into the office, but taking a few moments get your heart rate up can work wonders. Doing a few circuits of cardio in your home before you shower or completing a lap or two around the block can clear your head and release tension so you’re in a better headspace to face the day’s tasks head-on.
3. Make your bed.
Set the tone for the day by setting yourself up for success as soon as your feet hit the floor. Making your bed is a fast task that reminds yourself that you really can get stuff done.
4. Drink water.
This simple change can make a major difference because it’s a basic biological need. It’s good for your cells and helps keep your brain working well. Not only that, but it will help give you energy--especially if you’re someone who often reaches for caffeine which can be dehydrating.
5. Declutter your work space.
Studies have shown that being in a messy environment can cause levels of cortisol to spike, which leads to a whole slew of stress and bad side effects. Working in a mess causes unnecessary distraction, and it can give you an excuse to break your concentration throughout the day. Protect your time—and your health—by tidying up your workspace early on.
6. Review long term goals.
Keep your eye on the prize. Briefly reminding yourself what your end goals are can give you that extra boost you need to push through tasks that are difficult or boring.
7. Put your phone out of sight.
Checking your phone can be a major time suck. If you aren’t directly responsible for another person, put your phone away while you work. If that isn’t an option for you, turn off your notifications, keep your ringer on and keep your phone out of reach.
8. Tackle your most dreaded task first.
That project you’re avoiding that you keep putting off until the end of the day? Just get it over with! Responding to a difficult client or formulating a status report for your super picky boss can be so daunting that you spend more time doing things that shouldn’t take much time to avoid getting to the bottom of the list. Plus you spend so much time worrying about it, that you can’t focus on the things you should be focusing on.
9. Eat something healthy.
While reaching for sugars and carbohydrates can be tempting, taking in foods that are nourishing will give you the energy to do your best. Fish, nuts, leafy greens, and proteins will give you a boost of natural energy that will help you power through your day and avoid brain fog.
10. Don’t hit snooze.
It’s so tempting to take “five more minutes” to close your eyes, but it realistically does more harm than good. Not only do you run the risk of oversleeping (guilty of this), but the rest you get doesn’t have true value. Start your day with gusto by waking up on the first ring!
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University, and her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets 2017 anthology.