How can you stop procrastinating and become more productive? If you feel like you often leave items on your to-do list unchecked, keep reading! I’m sharing my ten favorite actionable tips that you can implement right now to have a more productive day:
One: Use a Handwritten To-Do List
When we write something down we are 40% more likely to complete it, thanks to the sensory information our brain receives when performing motor skills like writing. It gives our brain time to process and internalize the information and can also help us create a feeling of responsibility that will carry us through to execution. Our modern world and workflows kind of require some sort of digital organization + calendar system, but the best approach for productivity is a combination of the two. Try this: develop a morning routine where you open up your digital services (I use Google Calendar and Microsoft To-Do) and parse your tasks and events out onto paper. Then stay out of those digital services all day, which will help minimize distractions. If any new tasks, projects, or appointments come up during the day write them down on The Daily Page. At the end of the day pull your digital services back up on your phone or computer and make any necessary updates (add new events, update your ongoing projects etc).
Two: Start Planning the Night Before
Turns out that people who take 5 minutes before bed to start making a to-do list for the following day fall asleep faster and get higher quality sleep than those who don’t. The quality of our sleep makes a huge impact on our overall brain function, energy, and productivity, so this practice can influence how much you accomplish. The process can help ease anxiety and stress as well as help you wake up feeling more motivated.
Three: Develop a Morning Routine
It’s hard to get stuff done if you struggle to even get out of bed. Turns out that starting your day with things you enjoy doing can help ease some of that early morning dread. It doesn’t necessarily have to take up a lot of time and could be as simple as lighting your favorite candle while you wait for the coffee to brew, or having a podcast episode picked out and queued up before you go to sleep. Are there things you dread about the morning that you could eliminate? For example, people are actually developing PTSD from waking up and seeing bad news. What could you do to avoid the news for the first hour or two of the day to ensure your first experiences are positive ones?
Four: Track Work and Wellness in One Place
How we feel has a direct impact on how much we get done. That’s why I think it’s vital to organize your work and wellness side-by-side so that they are both prioritized throughout the day. This is one of my favorite things about The Daily Page! Not only does it help keep your health front-and-center, but it also helps us find harmony between our professional productivity and our personal productivity by organizing them side-by-side in the same place. As an employee or business owner you want to create output and value (professional productivity) but research shows that the best employees also have good wellness practices, hobbies, relationships, and passions (personal productivity). The more balance you can find between health, work, and home the more productive you can become.
Five: Start Your Day with 3 Easy Wins
When you start creating your to-do list for the day write down 3 Easy Wins and complete them first. These should be things that you can complete or accomplish in 2-5 minutes or less. Do these 3 Easy Wins first and cross them off your list. This helps you create momentum and gives your brain a healthy hit of DOSE — the four hormones released in our brain to produce a sense of accomplishment (dopamine, oxytocin, seratonin, endorphins).
Six: Identify THE THING
Do you ever find that there’s something on your to-do list that you’re dreading and that it can be a major distraction? This can have a devastating impact on your overall productivity as you waste valuable time and energy avoiding that task. This is why you should identity THE THING — put it at the top of your list, highlight it, circle it, do whatever you want to make it stand out amid the other tasks for the day. Then, after you’ve completed and checked off your 3 EASY WINS tackle THE THING next. The momentum and extra boost in your brain thanks to DOSE will help you power through something you aren’t naturally enthused about and the extreme sense of accomplishment after getting THE THING out of the way will help carry you through the rest of your day.
Seven: Don’t Forget The Motivation
Humans love rewards, so don’t forget to reward yourself when you have a productive day. When you create your to-do list be sure to add a task that you’ll get to do if you stay on track. For example, you could add “Reading for 20 Minutes in the sun” “Go for a bike ride” “Go to a coffee shop” “Paint for 30 minutes” to the to-do list, event area, or wellness section of The Daily Page. That way the thing you are looking forward to is right there on your t0-do list motivating you all day. Finding time for the things we enjoy is not only a great reward system, but it’s also vital for personal productivity which as we learned, has a direct impact on your professional productivity. It’s all connected!
Eight: Designate Space for Note + Ideas
When you’re feeling good and being productive it’s natural for the good ideas to come-a-flowin’! Which is great but can also be a bit distracting. That’s why having an easily accessible, designated space for quickly jotting down these Notes + Ideas can be a vital part of staying in a productive mode. The longer you hold on to the idea and keep it free-floating in your brain, the more energy you waste on it and the more likely you are to forget it altogether. Writing it down tells your brain that this idea is filed away and frees up your energy (plus you get those sensory benefits of writing the idea down).
Nine: Document Your Progress
Do you ever get to the end of the day and even though you *know* you were busy and getting stuff done for the past nine hours you draw a blank when you try to recall what you actually accomplished? It’s not unusual for our brains to go into autopilot mode when we are in the zone, or for our stress response to blank some things out if we’re having a really stressful (but likely busy and productive!) day. Keeping a record of your daily accomplishments and tasks — even the mundane ones — can be a great motivator for future success and can help carry you through difficult times. It’s also helpful to remember that checkboxes can be used for more than just checkmarks: develop a system of arrows or progress bars (as illustrated above) to record all levels or progress and help identify items that need to be moved to The Daily Page for tomorrow.
Ten: Stay Hydrated
Hydration isn’t always the first thing people think about when trying to increase their productivity, but it should be! All nine of the other things on this list are pointless if you are also living with chronic mild dehydration (which more than 75% of us are)! Here’s my super-simple explanation of why hydration is vital to your productivity: our brain communicates using electric signals. Those signals are carried throughout our body using our fascial system — which is a gossamer-like layer (sorta like saran wrap) that also helps hold our muscles to our skeleton. The more hydrated this fascial layer is, the faster our brain can transmit these messages — which impacts how quickly we can think, communicate and process information. Not to mention it does wonders for your overall energy, creativity, and avoiding fatigue or the afternoon slump! The Daily Page helps you prioritize hydration throughout the day by identifying a water goal and providing a tracking section. Hydration is one of my favorite topics to discuss when it comes to productivity and if you’re curious to learn more check out my online course, The Hydration Checklist. I’ll pop into your inbox once a day for 2 weeks to teach you the proper way to hydrate for maximum productivity as well as how to use The Daily Page to support a hydrated lifestyle.
That’s it! Those are my Ten Favorite Tips for Having a More Productive Day! If any of these practices are a new habit for you I recommend checking out my favorite life hack: Habit Stacking. This method will help you place new habits on the same neural pathway as your well-established routines and make them easier to develop. Even creating to-do list or using The Daily Page could be a habit that takes some practice for you to establish. Click here to learn more about How Habit Stacking will Change Your Life and click below to take 10% off in my shop. Happy Planning!
How do I get it all done? Simple. I fill out The Daily Page, my secret weapon for aligning my work + wellness.
It is now available as a spiral-bound planner, notepad, instant digital download, or planner for the Goodnotes app.
My online course will teach you how to achieve optimum hydration and get organized using The Daily Page.