What does a productive day look like to you? Is it:
- A to-do list with every item ticked off?
- Where you get to work early and can leave at a decent hour and enjoy time with the family rather than work late?
- One where you finally organised your wardrobe, a project you've had on the go since the year dot.
A productive day will look different to everyone, and working women have it tough.
Every day is full of demands. Not only do you have a paid job, but there's also the home to take care of. I think of the home as the other job you have, you know, the one where you don't get paid!
There's so much to do just to keep things ticking along nicely.
The secret to a productive day lies in your daily routines.
Because the small routines or daily habits that you perform, often without thinking, help you take action without getting stressed. Especially if you've fine-tuned your daily routine to fit your lifestyle.
These routines and habits ease the stress of daily living. And ultimately, help you get more done without feeling like you're always working.
So, if you want to have a productive day without the stress, read on.
Segment Your Workday
Whether you work from home or go out to work, please don't fall into a bad habit of working all the time. Set specific hours for your workday. You need time away from work because, let's face it, work never ends. There is always something more to do.
How often do you hear yourself saying I'll just
- Send this last email
- Ring this customer
- Finish this report
Before you know it, the time has marched on, and you are completely knackered. All you want to do is crawl into bed. Forget dinner or spending time with the family. And those household chores you want to stay on top of have been shifted to tomorrow. When tomorrow is already a busy day.
There will be times when you want to work late to get things done, but it's not required every single day! Try to stick to your workday hours at least 80 per cent of the time.
Because a productive day does not centre on just one aspect of your life.
You'll feel more in control of all aspects of your life, and you will better manage your stress levels if you get into the daily routine of a set finish time for work.
Eat Well And Stay Hydrated
A productive day relies on you being well-fed and hydrated. No junk food allowed and definitely no missing meals!
Food For Fuel
Did you know that your diet is more important than whether you walk or bike for exercise? When you're busy, it's easy to skip meals. Yet food provides the fuel you need to have a productive day. So one routine to get into is to prep your food in advance to make it easier to stick to mealtimes.
Get into the habit of a weekly meal plan. Knowing what you will be eating each day can reduce the stress of trying to decide on the hoof. You can also consider the night you work late by having a quick meal on standby!
If you have a sandwich for lunch, why not prepare them in advance? Make them on a Sunday and pop them in the freezer. Then, each night take out the sandwich for the next day.
Adam's Ale (a fun term for water!)
You may have heard that you should drink 8 glasses of water a day. But according to the Mayo Clinic the amount of water you consume depends on many factors. Exercise level and overall health need to be considered. But there is no doubt that water is good for you.
Water helps to flush toxins from your system and can stop you from feeling sluggish. Therefore if you start your day hydrated, you will boost your energy. And when you have more energy, you'll find it easier to smash through your to-do list.
Get into the routine of reaching for a glass of water each morning, even before your morning caffeine fix. You will feel and perform a lot better, which will help you achieve a productive day.
Create A Stress-Free Morning Routine
Above I mentioned segmenting your day. So get off to a good start with a solid morning routine. You will set yourself up for a productive day from the get-go, but it will also save you:
There's a lot of information online about how successful people have a morning routine. However, the often-quoted examples are full of things to do that you may feel you don't have time for. Trust me, your morning routine does not have to be complicated. In my article Morning Routines Of Successful People. Will It Work For You? I challenge some of the suggestions. You don't have to do an entire workout in the morning for a start!
Yet there are certain things I believe can set you up for a productive day, such as:
- Wake up at the same time each morning (this approach works for morning larks and night owls)
- Take the time to eat breakfast – food is fuel, remember!
- Incorporate some quiet time that includes some form of self-care (link to post on what is self-care). For example, meditate, read, journal, or simply sit on your own drinking your morning coffee (after you've had your glass of water, of course). This is particularly valuable if you feel that other people make demands on you throughout the day and you never seem to have any time to yourself.
None of the above needs to take a lot of time – 10 minutes on each activity will be enough.
When you start the day relaxed, you feel more in control and consequently get a lot more done.
Preview Your Day
How often do you launch straight into the first urgent task that needs your attention when you get to work? However, if you want a productive day, create a daily routine that allows you to assess what's coming up. But, again, this does not need to take long.
Take 10 minutes to review your:
- To-do list
Keep in mind that you have a strict finish time – I hope you took on board my comments on segmenting your workday.
Take the opportunity to change things around if necessary to ensure that you finish on time. You may need to consider your priorities or where you need to delegate. You're not superwoman. No one can do everything, so be kind to yourself and acknowledge what you can achieve. Oh, and be realistic about that.
My general rule is to have 3 things you want to get done each day and have them as priorities. Then, anything on top of those is a bonus.
Develop A Positive Mindset
When we're stressed and busy, we often look at what is facing us as negative. But if you can find ways to look at the positive aspects of your life, you'll find your motivation to get through that long, tedious to-do list that much easier.
Motivation usually comes after you take action and focus on the feeling you experience after taking a specific action. That successful experience encourages you to be more positive because you feel more productive. The more you do, the more productive you feel; it's like a snowball gathering momentum as it rolls downhill.
Getting started can be tricky, especially when confronted with a difficult task. Don't allow negative thoughts about how hard it is get you down.
Instead, adopt a positive mindset that you can do it – okay, it might take you time, but you will get through it.
If you cultivate a growth mindset, you can become more positive. Another tactic is to start with a positive intention, such as 'I can do this.'
Finally, the best habit to maintain your self-esteem and build on a productive day is to recognise your successes.
Too often, we beat ourselves up for all the things that we haven't done and forget what we achieved.
When you celebrate your victories, you build your self-esteem and confidence no matter how small you believe those victories are.
But also, you draw on the experience as a way to motivate you to take more action. And when you take action, you get things done as well as build your confidence and belief in yourself.
So, get into the habit of celebrating your victories. One easy way to do this is to create a file – either written or on your computer, where you note the good things that happened during the day. Some examples of what you could capture include:
- Positive feedback
- Goals achieved, or progress made
- Tasks done
Then get into the routine of reviewing your file regularly to give yourself a boost.
Honestly, you will feel so much better about yourself and realise that you are capable of amazing things.
A productive day is made up of daily routines.
Simple habits that you can introduce into your day to day can have a massive impact on your performance, whatever work you do.
Here are some easy steps you can take today:
- Decide on a finish time for work and stick to it.
- Create meal plans for your week
- Before you go to bed tonight, place a glass of water next to you. Then before you get out of bed in the morning, drink it.
- Create a stress-free morning routine by getting up at the same time each day
- Preview your day and focus your activity on your 3 most important tasks
- Develop a positive mindset by setting a positive intention for the day; for example, I will get x done today
- Celebrate anything you achieve, big or small, by setting up a notebook and jotting down all the good stuff.
When you create your daily routine, you're investing in a better stress-free future for yourself that allows you to be more productive.