Everyone wants to be productive right? But then you don’t get enough sleep, something comes up, or honestly you’d rather just watch Netflix. There are a plethora of excuses and reasons not to accomplish exactly what you set out to do which can make it impossible to get anything done, but fear not! With the right steps in place and a little effort, you can increase your productivity and check off everything on your to-do list.
Wake up early and consistently: As they say, the early bird gets the worm! The most successful people wake up early. “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards,” said Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany in a Psychology Today Article. Waking up at the same time every day slowly gets your brain into a rhythm and soon enough you will naturally be ready to go in the morning.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is important. It may seem like it’s a small thing to compromise on in order to fit more time into the day, but sleep is essential to the body’s processes. Plus, now that you’re waking up earlier you won’t need the extra time in the evenings. Skimping on sleep results in less productivity, poorer memory, and over time can even increase your risk of illness. According to sleepfoundation.org, optimal sleep is between 7-9 hours, at the very least try to squeeze in 7.
Exercise: Nobody loves it, at least not right away, but eventually the impact it has on your health will make it seem a little less grueling. Exercise, especially first thing in the morning increases productivity by waking up your body and helping your brain to focus. "…When people exercise in the morning, in many cases they did so because over time they realized that working out in the morning puts you in a better mood and you're more productive and you have more energy throughout the workday," said Tom Rath, coauthor of Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements in a US News article..
Get the most important tasks out of the way first: Whatever you’re dreading doing for the day take care of it as soon as possible. Eliminating these types of projects will clear the rest of the day up for you to accomplish other tasks and will leave you feeling less stressed throughout the day.
Don’t try to multitask: We all think we can do it, but it doesn’t really work. You may feel that you’re an adept multitasker, however, the research shows the brain can't actually shift focus constantly without a loss of productivity. Set aside fixed amounts of time for each task that needs to be accomplished and focus on one at a time. According to an article on Health.com, “moving back and forth between several tasks actually wastes productivity because your attention is expended on the act of switching gears—plus, you never get fully “in the zone” for either activity.”
Plan tomorrow today: If you have a set list of what is to come for the next day you’ll be less stressed and won’t have to worry about making any minor decisions that take up precious time. Create a to-do list the night before, pack your lunch, pick out your outfit, any task that would normally take up time in the morning. Doing these things the night before opens up your schedule for more important tasks, or even some much-needed relaxation.
Take time for yourself: No one can be on all of the time. Eventually, you will burn out which is a lot easier to prevent than it is to come back from. Set aside some time each day to do whatever you enjoy and calm your mind. Read a book, meditate, or watch an episode of that new Netflix documentary. It doesn’t have to be a long time either according to Scientific American, just 10 to 20 mins a day can make a notable difference.
Adapting these steps into your day-to-day schedule will help you to accomplish more, increase productivity, and create a solid foundation to continue to succeed in the workplace upon graduation.