Whether you’re finding yourself stuck in the daily grind or demotivated during a period of uncertainty, unproductive days are to be expected. Whilst it’s normal for everyone to experience a drop in productivity every now and again, preventing a blip from persisting will require some conscious effort and adjustment to your day to day life.
From a personal perspective, my time serving in the Special Boat Services (SBS) laid the foundation for the robust character and mindset I’m proud to possess today. But the time immediately following this period was the real test. I had lost all structure and routine, which opened a void in my life and resulted in me having to face some pretty dark personal issues, including alcoholism, substance abuse and depression.
I knew I wanted to change my life and create healthier habits but finding the motivation to remain consistent and productive was a challenge. And every time I tried to make changes, I would find myself falling back into the same patterns over and over again.
But it was these ten simple habits that helped me take small, sustainable steps towards a healthier and more productive life which, after years of persistence, have resulted in the man I am today. So, if you’re looking to do the same, why not try them yourself?
Whatever circumstances you currently find yourself in, keeping a consistent and wholesome morning routine can make all the difference in setting yourself up for a productive day, as well as keeping your mind and body healthy.
I personally enjoy waking up at 5am to meditate and eat breakfast, before starting work at 7am. I find this to be a step in the right direction for a positive day and, if I do let it slip, it puts me in the wrong headspace and a whole whirlwind of mayhem soon whips up.
Of course, not every day is the same, so you should allow for some flexibility and not get too stressed out when you have to accommodate other plans.
Much like a routine, setting out a plan for your day creates structure and provides you with something to focus your time and energy on, rather than aimlessly going from one thing to another.
Ultimately, planning to be productive is much easier than being productive – but, that said, if you have a productive plan in place and reach the end of the day by following it, you can be sure that you have had a productive day.
In your plan, it’s important to schedule in those jobs that you keep putting off. Plan to do things as soon as they need doing, for instance, when a bill comes in, pay it as soon as possible to avoid falling into a ‘do it later’ mentality. Adopting this sort of discipline allows you to take positive actions towards your goals and creates more proactive and productive habits.
The great thing about a to-do list is that it gives you a clear view of all your tasks in a single place, which allows you to prioritise things that need to be done more urgently, ensuring you meet deadlines and work more efficiently.
Writing things down allows you to take the pressure off yourself, as you don’t need to worry about remembering them and, instead, you can refocus energy on actually getting things done.
Fundamentally, to-do lists make day to day life less overwhelming by enabling you to focus on one thing at a time. This can increase happiness and health and, in turn, result in greater productivity.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, taking regular breaks is imperative for enhanced productivity. If you think about it, putting something under continuous stress and pressure is likely to lead to its breakdown and something that is broken, won’t be able to achieve optimal productivity – our minds and bodies are no different, which is exactly why taking a step away every now and again is so important.
Just about everyone has had those times where there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. The stress, frustration and urgency this creates can be a great hindrance to productivity, which can ultimately lead to things taking longer than necessary and placing even more pressure on you and strain on your time. The best way to avoid falling into this vicious cycle is, firstly, with a plan of action (see tip 2) and, secondly, to maximise the time you do have, effectively.
For instance, can the time wasted commuting to and from work be better spent reading or listening to a book?
With so much to do, it’s easy to forget to factor in mealtimes. But it’s important to remember just how crucial keeping yourself fuelled with good nutrients is in remaining healthy and productive. After all, the energy we require to get tasks done must come from somewhere.
Whilst regular mealtimes are important for everyone, those following a training regime must ensure their bodies are nourished with foods that will enable greater performance and help them achieve their fitness goals.
In this case, following a mealtime routine can prevent under-eating or overindulging. And, to save time and guarantee the nutrients you need are readily available, meal prepping and plans are a great idea.
Similar to food, water is a vital component of our general health and wellbeing which, if neglected, can have negative effects on productivity levels. For example, insufficient water consumption leads to dehydration which impacts concentration and makes it more difficult to focus on and finish tasks efficiently.
The average adult should be drinking four pints of water a day.
Our ethos is built on the principle that mind, body and fuel are all interconnected. Each plays a part in enabling or hindering the other. With that in mind, a perception and mindset geared towards productivity can only be achieved, if the body is healthy and fuelled correctly, which also includes how it is trained.
When you start to exercise regularly, you will notice its impacts on productivity within just a few weeks. Ultimately, exercising increases energy levels and relieves stress which leads to greater feelings of happiness and improved general wellbeing. In turn, this makes completing tasks easier and more efficient. For this very reason, including a workout in your schedule can help you have a more productive day.
Far too often we get to the end of the day with a to-do list that feels just as long as it was in the morning. On these occasions, reflection is the best way to determine whether or not your day really has been productive.
Reflection is important because it allows you to recognise and celebrate all that you have accomplished which can sometimes be overlooked and under-appreciated.
As well as this, you can use the time to learn lessons from the day to inform how you approach similar activities in the future for greater efficiency and set out your plan for the following day. That should include all those tasks that will need to take priority.
Much like taking regular breaks, rest and sleep can improve productivity levels by relieving the stress and pressure placed on your mind and body. This will help you recover and reset, so you’re ready to tackle the next day feeling more energised, focused and happier.
Rest is also important in avoiding fatigue and burnout, both of which can lead to issues that have longer-term impacts on health, wellbeing and, ultimately, productivity.
When adopting new habits, remember that consistency is key. Don’t be disheartened, if you’re not seeing overnight results but keep yourself motivated by focusing on your end goal – the vision of how your new life will look.
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