Whether it’s your full-time job, your side-hustle or a hobby you’re looking to expand into something more, only good things can come from getting yourself organised and becoming more efficient. The biggest frustration is feeling as though there aren’t enough hours in the day. We can feel like we’re paddling upstream; forever struggling and never ending up where we want to be. But in my experience, there are two concepts that will absolutely make you more productive. The first is conditioning yourself and the second is prioritising your actions so they are in alignment with your values.
Conditioning or training yourself means that you put your tendency to be lazy or procrastinate to one side and simply do more. This is the result of learned habits which of course take time but are completely worth it. It’s actually kind of incredible what humans are capable of. We can endure extraordinary things. And this isn’t to sound like you’re to work yourself into the ground (believe me, I am not the type of person to encourage that), but I bring this up as inspiration. You can achieve all those things that you want to do. You can be more productive. You just need to learnt to be a little more efficient.
Prioritising is an easier solution to get your head around than conditioning. So perhaps start with this one. Write down a list of all the things you do each day and approximately how much time is spend doing each of them. Then write a list of what your values are. Or, if you find that too vague, a list of what your dream life would look like if you broke it down into daily actions or acitivities. Compare. You might feel crummy after this exercise. It might become apparent that your two lists are totally in conflict. But that’s OK. You did the important thing by becoming aware of that. Now, you can begin to make changes.
So, if your lists are in conflict and you want to be doing more of what you love, or you’re sick of bumming around and what to train yourself to be more efficient, here are some things you can do.
- Wake up early and get straight out of bed. Did you know that early-risers have been found to be overall more productive and proactive than night owls? They tend to anticipate problems and tackle them sooner, thus reducing stress levels. A large survey revealed that ‘morning people’ also admitted to feeling happier overall. Now, a 5am alarm may not be for everyone. You might not be able to get to bed until 11pm and need at least 7 hours sleep. But, look at your schedule and set a realistic wake-up time that you can stick to each day. This extra time in the morning can be used to make a routine that includes wellness activites like exercise or meditation. Or, it can be used to work on a side business you’d like to grow. And when the alarm goes off, don’t allow yourself a second to think about it. Get straight up and don’t look back.
- Make time for what’s important each day. Thinking back to prioritising things that matter, make time for them every day. You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: you only live once. Life is far too short and precious to waste our time on things that don’t inspire us or make us happy. Even if you have to work a job that does nothing else for your satisfaction than pay the bills, spend the rest of the time that you’re not in that workplace wisely. You might want to use your early morning to do these activities, or perhaps you’ve got small children and the evening is the only possible free time. Whenever it is, plan accordingly.
- Reduce Sugar & Caffeine intake. I recently wrote this article about what a revelation it was doing life without caffeine. I tried it out of curiosity but found it immensely beneficial; so much so that I don’t think I’ll ever go back. Living without minimal caffeine has completely rid my days of low energy slumps. I didn’t find the caffeine buzz to make me any more efficient than usual, because I’m generally a very focussed person. But, what I did suffer from were the lows as the effects would wear off. Nowadays, no caffeine = consistent energy levels. I’m also mindful about sugar because it’s terrible for us. I have found that when I’m consuming too much sugar, my mood slips and I don’t feel as enthusiastic or productive. Keeping it in check will work wonders in helping you feel more balanced.
- Schedule in the fun stuff. This might sound like a bore, but if you schedule in dedicated time for those things simply done for enjoyment, you’ll actually get so much more out of them. There’s nothing worse than trying to have a good time, but feeling like you should probably be working or doing x, y or z to be more productive instead. I said at the start than it’s remarkable how much we can endure, but I’m not an advocate for being a tyrant. You need to allow yourself time to laugh and play. Scheduling this in will allow your body to fully relax and your mind to remain present in the moment.
These are just a small handful and I’d love to hear what’s made a difference for you! Have you changed something in your routine to make you work smarter?
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