With our lives getting more hectic, to-do lists getting longer and the constant pressure to be “on” 24/7, I think we are all looking for ways to get more out of life with a little less work. As the old adage says “work smarter, not harder” here are 10 things you can implement immediately to reduce stress and increase productivity.
This one is in all the self-help books, but I think for a good reason. Even though it has changed, I’ve had a morning routine for years now. The great thing about a morning routine is, it can be so personalized. They can range from very short and simple to long and elaborate. It all depends on your beliefs, your needs and time in the mornings. The idea is to get grounded, centered and calm before the chaos of the day begins.
Some examples of a morning routine would be; meditation, prayer, gratitude journal, inspirational/religious readings, a few pages from a favorite book, motivational podcasts, working out…any combination of the above examples will be a great start to setting the tone for the day.
A morning routine means “You run the day, and you don’t let the day run you”
Pick a day (I do Sundays) and take an hour to review your goals, what your week looks like and formulate a plan or a rough draft of the different tasks that need to be done every day (don’t forget appointments). I try and have a big picture in my mind of the coming week…what should I accomplish this week? Who do I have to talk to? Who do I have to see? Workouts? I find I forget less stuff when I have it all written down.
After you have your week set up for success part of my morning routine is to review what I have going on that day. I mentally take note of my appointments, where I have to be and when and I also pick the biggest and/or most urgent tasks that should get done that day.
For example: today I had an appointment at 9:00am, a meeting at 1:00pm and one at 4:00pm. I know I need to write two blogs to catch up for the month, call the bank, return patient phone calls, put a FB video up for my employees and respond to a few emails.
If I get through all this today than I won’t have forgotten anything and I won’t be behind for the week.
Especially with everything at our fingertips with phones, tables, computers, beeps, messages, phone calls it’s easy to get super distracted.
Even writing this blog I found myself on FB, in my email and responding to text messages. Or I could just focus for 45 mins on this blog, knock it out and then move on to my next task.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Let’s say you have an enormous, overwhelming task to do this week. Think about how to break it up into chunks. What two or three little things can you do today to help that project without getting in over your head but still make forward progress?
What time of day do you do your best work? We all have a 2-3 hour window where the creativity flows, our focus is on point and when utilized properly this window can get a lot of work done.
One of the fathers of personal development/motivation speaking was Zig Ziglar. I love listening to Zig. He has this phrase he calls “eat the frog.” Eat the frog means, if there is something you absolutely dread doing that day, do it first. Eat the frog and get it over with. That way it’s done, you clear out the mental energy and space because you aren’t dwelling on it. Remember, that frog won’t get any prettier as the day goes on.
With the advent of technology this can be in the literal or figurative sense of the word. Just decide what really works for you. I’m like Moses coming down off the mountain with my stone tablet. I love writing my schedule down, my to-do lists and anything else I need to do on real paper. I know they have plenty of apps, online resources or even using Google calendar to keep track of what’s going on.
If you can, find a resource that also allows you to track how much time you spend doing your tasks. You may be surprised by how much time you are spending on certain tasks compared to others. Try a free time tracking software like Toggl.
You don’t have to be a business owner or the boss to have the ability to delegate. Your spouse/significant other, kids, maybe family or friends might able to help you. Delegation only really works when you have a handle on the big picture of what needs to get done, the breakdown of how to make that possible and then a follow-up system. For example: I owned my first house in the Midwest. The great state of Ohio entails both grasses to cut and snow to shovel. As a young woman, I did not think that through before I purchased a house. I figured out how to get those two horrible tasks done without me physically having to do them.
Again, this can be literal or figurative…clean out your work space. Declutter your office, your desk or any place that you look and go “OMG” or have a sense of dread over when you think about. That dread will diminish your productivity. Clutter can be physical, mental or emotional. Consider things that take up space, take away from your joy or move you farther from how you want your life to look and feel. The more you “tidy up” all the unwanted things in your life, the more energy and focus you will have for things you do want.