Take a minute to think about the most productive people you know. They work full-time and/or run their own business, always get a workout in, get their kids to all their extracurricular activities, and still seem to have time to take on new projects. How do they do it? They haven’t figured out a secret trick to add three extra hours to the day. In fact, they have exactly the same amount of time that you do, but they just seem to get more done. Honestly, for most people, it’s not about being better or faster—it’s about finding ways to be more efficient. And it’s simpler than you think.
MAKE A TO-DO LIST
Do you know everything you have to accomplish today or for the rest of the week? When you try to balance it all in your head, it can be overwhelming. When you write it down in an organized list, it suddenly doesn’t look so impossible. Just writing your to-do list down can be a huge motivator, and I don’t have to tell you how good it feels to mark tasks off that list, do I?
GET STARTED THE NIGHT BEFORE
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of making to-do lists, but there’s one small thing that I’ve started doing that makes them even more effective and sets me up for the day even better. I write and/or reorganize my to-do lists the night before. I prioritize the things that have to get done and pepper in some of the more fun tasks to keep me going throughout the next day. Then I put together my clothes, supplies, and anything else I’m going to need.
By the time my head hits the pillow, I know I’m prepared for the next day, which helps me relax and get a better night’s sleep. And that helps me get into the groove of things faster and more efficiently in the morning.
IDENTIFY YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE TIME OF THE DAY
Surprisingly enough, most people are at their most productive early in the day, even people who swear they’re not morning people. That said, you might be most productive in the afternoons. Figure out when you hit that productivity sweet spot and take advantage of it. Schedule the bulk of your important or difficult tasks for that time, and you’ll have a much easier time getting everything done that you set out to do each day.
FIGURE OUT IF YOU SHOULD BITE THE BULLET OR EASE INTO THE DAY
Finally, this one is a little bit different for everyone. A lot of productivity experts will tell you that you should bite the bullet and do the task you’re dreading most first thing in the morning when you’re fresh. I do this a lot, and it usually leaves me feeling relieved and ready to take on all of my more pleasant tasks for the day.
But sometimes you need a bit of a win for the start of the day. You need something to help you ease into the day before you bite the bullet. Sometimes, instead of diving right into the thing I don’t want to do, I trick myself into being productive by doing something a little easier first that I can mark off my to-do list. Then, when I have that win, I move on to the task I’d rather put off, and my day goes more smoothly from there.
Try these tips out and see how much more smoothly your days go and how much more you can get done every day.