As bloggers, we all have those mornings when we get up with the best intentions planned. There’s a list of blog tasks that you have to complete (most of which you’ve been putting off for a while…) But instead of following the plan and getting some work done, you lose yourself in everything else but your work.
From checking emails to browsing your Facebook feed and everything in between – before you know it, it’s afternoon and you’ve done absolutely nothing productive. If this sounds like you, then read on to find out how you can better manage your time and get a lot more done each day.
Whether you work from home or in an office, you’re well aware of all the distractions that take your attention from your tasks. Whether it’s kids, chores, the phone, internet, social media, or office gossip – it’s time to find ways to rid yourself of all the things that drain your productivity so you can start seeing some real results in your business.
A productive day can be more than a mere fluke in your life!
With the practical productivity tips and techniques outlined below, you’ll be able to make such days a sustained habit, and before you know it, you won’t even have to think about it and everything will happen automatically. Use them to boost your daily motivation and knock out every item on your to-do list with less hassle and stress.
It’s important to note that while extra time and effort is required at the onset to make these changes become your daily habits, the amount of time and energy that these tactics will save you in the long term will make it all worthwhile.
Tip #1: Start Your Day The Right Way
The tone for your entire workday is set in that first hour of work. For instance, when you start the day with an extremely productive writing session, your creative juices will be flowing for hours afterward. And yet, just a few bad decisions will result in you finding yourself at 12 noon wondering where the morning went.
If you want to experience morning productivity, it all comes down to being able to form habits that stick. Once you condition yourself to become productive in the morning, when Monday comes around, it’s going to be second nature for you to open Google Docs first, and not Facebook.
How To Upgrade Your Morning Routine
To start your morning well, you have to begin long before you sit in front of your computer. It has been proven that what you eat has a huge impact on your level of productivity during the day, so it’s important that you have a healthy breakfast each morning.
Choose foods that are low in glycemic carbohydrates like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains that sustain your energy through the day. A breakfast of eggs, bananas, blueberries, yogurt, for instance, can counteract stress and significantly boost your memory – both of which directly impact your overall performance, and ultimately, your level of productivity.
Tip #2: Resist The Temptation To Check Your Email
This is something that you absolutely must do: fight the urge to open your inbox first thing in the morning. When you allow your day to begin with the chaos that you’ll undoubtedly find in your inbox, you enter a veritable productivity vacuum where you read, reply, and organize mail, and that steals those precious hours that you should be using for creative thinking.
In addition to that, you will establish a day-long habit of checking your mail often, which is equally dangerous (more on that later).
If you don’t drive yourself to work, you can check your email during your commute. It also works to set aside 5 or 10 minutes as you’re getting ready for work, just to see if there are any vital things to do. But make sure you shut it down after that quick check, and your productivity will benefit a lot from that, guaranteed.
Take Small Steps
If you find that the temptation to click the email tab is just too strong, then the best way to get to the productivity levels that you desire is by taking small steps and building these tiny habits into your daily actions to bring about long-lasting behavioral changes. In order to make those new habits stick, you need to determine the following factors:
1. Authentic Motivation – you need a real reason to change the habit
2. Simple Actions – you need simple actions that will make the new habit very easy for you to accomplish
3. Trigger – you must have a trigger to cause the action, and the action should lead to a reward
For instance, say you know that checking email is a serious distraction for you, simply schedule times for checking your inbox, and if you complete that task in under 10 minutes, then reward yourself with a snack break (or something like that).
This is a great technique that you can use on any behavior that you want to turn into a habit, such as reading, meditation, and even flossing your teeth! So, in this case, your trigger would be the scheduled time for checking email, your action would be actually checking your email, and your reward would be a snack break.
Tip #3: Prioritizing Priorities
We’re not all Type A personalities, but that does not mean that we couldn’t stand to benefit from a better-organized to-do list. Take time to separate your tasks by their different levels of priority. It’s tempting to always start with the smallest tasks, but it’s important that you set priority levels so that you tackle the most important tasks first.
A word of warning:
If you’re notorious for label making and color coding (yeah, you know exactly who you are…), spending that first hour of work creating a stunning to-do list is going to be just as damaging to your level of productivity as checking your inbox first thing in the morning.
Either use the morning commute to sort out your priorities, or set them the night before. Using a cloud-based app like OneNote or Evernote will help you to effortlessly sync your list between devices so you can always arrive at your office ready for work.
While setting your priorities, you need to prioritize all creative work for the morning. Yes, I understand that we’re not all morning people and that some of us find themselves more productive at other times of the day or even at night. But, give this a try for at least a couple of weeks, and if you don’t see any improvement in your productivity, then it may be time to try a different approach.
But I’m willing to bet that you will be surprised by just how much more efficiently your brain works when you start important projects in the morning as opposed to after lunch or in the evening.
Tip #4: Determine What’s Distracting You
In medicine, you can’t prescribe the correct medication unless you’ve made a diagnosis. As a blogger, things are no different. In order to set habits that increase your productivity in the coming months and years, you must identify exactly what it is that takes your attention away from your work.
In the next week, track how you are spending your time. You can either use pen and paper, a spreadsheet or time tracker apps like Track Your Time or RescueTime. You simply need to make a note of four things: Time, Activity, Duration, and Value.
Make an honest note what distracts you and when. When the week ends, evaluate how your time was spent. Identify any cause and effect patterns. For instance, maybe you fall prey to the website browsing bug whenever you are doing research for an article?
Or perhaps you get lost during a routine email for a new connection on LinkedIn and find yourself two hours later still scrolling on social media? Whatever it is for you, make a note of your distractions and the times that they happen.
Don’t skip this step, under any circumstances. It may take a lot of time to record everything you do during your week, but while it adds to a single week, think instead of the hundreds (possibly thousands) of hours it will save you in lost productivity in the future.
Working From Home
Working from home is growing more common, and it’s fast becoming one of the best benefits of modern workplaces. But just because the distractions of your co-workers are far away doesn’t mean that you’re safe. The honest truth is that whenever you work from home, you usually become your own worst distraction. In order to maximize your productivity, mimic a regular office workday as much as you can.
For instance, this means getting up early, taking a shower, getting dressed as if you’re actually going to an office. And remember, working from home does not mean that you can only work from home. You can go to a coffee shop and do your work from there, particularly if you want to avoid the temptation of cleaning bathrooms and alphabetizing the bookshelf…
Always keep in mind that working from home is a luxury, and try your best to commit to doing more and possibly even getting ahead on all the blog writing you have for the week. If you have to do chores around the house while you’re tackling your writing and other blog tasks, then try to set mini-deadlines for yourself that correspond to those chores.
For instance, if you’re writing an article, you can tell yourself that you’ll get to a particular point before your wash cycle ends, or the kids come home from school, or the roast is done – whatever chore it is that you’re doing.
Tip #5: Take Regular Breaks
There’s nothing that is more detrimental to your productive workflow than stomach rumblings. In addition to having a good breakfast, make sure that you take regular breaks for lunch, snacks, and so on. Skipping a meal is not only bad for your health, but it’s also detrimental to your work habits because your productivity, as well as your energy levels, plummet when you’re hungry.
As for non-food breaks, use the time to leave your desk and walk around to give your body and mind a break. The truth is that the perfect productive day for a blogger doesn’t involve eight hours of endless banging away at the keyboard, but rather it’s about finding the right balance to maximize your productivity.
Getting more done every day involves identifying the tasks that are most important to your goal achievement and getting started with those. But breaks are still just as important. A great way of achieving the right balance is by using the Pomodoro technique where you work without distractions for about an hour to an hour and a half, and then take a break for five to fifteen minutes.
This helps to maximize productivity. After all, it’s been scientifically proven that the human brain can only function non-stop for so much time before it starts to fry.
Bonus Tips From The Masters
“Decide on one priority task that you plan on getting done before the end of the day. A big to-do list can be overwhelming, but if you set one main goal every day, then you can jump to other projects, but eventually come back and finish that one.”
“Pay close attention to your periods of high and low energy throughout the day, and adjust what you’re doing accordingly. If you find that your energy and production is at its highest level between 8 and 12 in the morning, then that’s the time to tackle most of your writing. You can leave the emails and smaller projects for mid to late afternoon when your energy starts to dissipate.”
Whether you work from home or in an office, you stand to benefit from improving your time management skills, so use these tips to get your productivity levels to where you want them.
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