11 Ways to Be More Productive
STOP being addicted to your phone
Have you ever asked yourself how to be more productive in the morning. Or how to be more productive at home? What about how to be more productive at work? I found myself asking these questions a lot and once I figured out a few key changes, my mornings and days became far more productive.
Let me start by saying, I am no way an expert at making sure my mornings involve all of these things I am going to suggest to you. One thing I can say for sure though is that the mornings when I do each of these things before looking at my phone; my days are way more productive.
Most of us are guilty of looking at our phone right before bed and first thing in the morning and it has become such a habit that we don’t even think twice about it. The problem is we are filling our minds with things that:
A. will not help us sleep and;
B. will not help us be productive in the morning and throughout the day.
According to a Harvard study, using your phone right before bed can decrease your REM sleep which can leave you feeling groggy and having difficulty concentrating the next day. The same study also says that even though we think we are relaxed and winding down while lying in our beds mindlessly scrolling, we are actually doing the complete opposite. As we scroll we are becoming more alert and less likely to go to sleep anytime soon.
I think this has happened to all of us.
What about in the morning? Now that you are well rested it should be fine to pick up the phone right?
There is so much garbage on our phones. From crappy weather to tragic news to pictures of perfect people with perfect lives (this is nice but can be damaging). When we devote the first ten minutes or perhaps two hours in the morning to mindlessly searching and scrolling we are setting our day up for total failure.
Let’s say for example you have been wanting to plan a trip for months, maybe even years, but your bank account just can’t support it. What happens when you open your phone first thing in the morning and you see that person on your Facebook, you don’t even really know ,on that trip that you have been wanting to plan for who knows how long.
It likely makes you instantly jealous. But why? You don’t know that person’s life circumstances. You don’t know the struggles they may have or how hard they had to work for that trip. You don’t know anything about anything that is shared on the internet and most specifically social media, but we for some reason still allow the consumption of these things to affect our mood and ultimately our day.
Please don’t feel like I am making assumptions or judging. I am writing this based on my own experiences and my own feelings of inadequacy.
So what should we do to fix this?
I have made a significant effort to change my relationship with my phone. In fact, I have removed all the social media apps AND my email from my cell phone and although I still find myself reaching for my phone out of boredom, I have resisted the temptation to re-download because the truth is; I don’t actually want to scroll. Sometimes I am just trying to fill a couple of seconds or minutes of boredom and the first thing I think to do is grab my phone. We as humans truly suck at sitting in silence and being bored. Try to become better at this and your life will change for the better and while your at it, help your children to learn to be good at this as well.
Deleting those apps from your phone is a very freeing feeling by the way. All I have left for entertainment on my phone is my kindle reader and my apps that allow me to write. So when I go to scroll and realize I can’t, my next best option is to read a couple of lines of a book or type a few thoughts down.
I recognize at this point I may have lost many readers just now.
If you are still reading this that means you may be willing to entertain the idea of caring less about looking at your phone. If that’s the case, here are some suggestions I want to make for you. Before I start I am going to share with you the ones I have mastered and the ones I am still trying to master.
1. Plan tomorrow – Despite being terrified to make plans as a result of my fiancé dying right in the middle of us planning our wedding and our lives, I truly believe in this one. When I don’t plan what I need to accomplish each day I know I am setting myself up for failure. Have an idea of what it is you need to get done each day and create a plan.
I don’t mean a to-do list with eighty items on it. To-do lists can be so ineffective sometimes because they overwhelm your brain and it results in complete avoidance. Narrow it down to the most important things that MUST get done and stick to that. Things like “do the laundry” should never be on a to-do list. Seriously, if the laundry doesn’t get done, the world will not end.
Don’t ruin a perfectly good plan by throwing unimportant things like laundry on it because all that will do is make you feel overwhelmed and exhausted before the day even begins. Trust me, once you sort out your day and do some of these things to increase productivity, things like laundry will somehow just get done because you will find yourself thinking clearly and probably having more energy and time.
I have pretty much mastered this one.
2. Find a new home for your phone – Unless you are waiting for a very important call in the middle of the night, put your phone somewhere other than right beside your bed. Look, I have worked in a capacity where I was on call basically 24/7. I lost more sleep than I can even describe and I constantly found myself looking for that flashing red light that told me that something happened and I needed to go to work. If you are working in a job that requires you to be on call then finding ways to enhance your sleep is even more paramount because you probably don’t get very much of it.
Put your ringer on and set your phone somewhere other than beside your bed. Seriously. Stop looking for that red flashing light. I didn’t realize how anxious I was about that red light until the day I handed that phone in and never had to look at it again. The weight off my shoulders was intense and relieving.
If you don’t have one of these jobs, put your phone somewhere else. No, if’s and’s or but’s, JUST DO IT.
P.S I haven’t mastered this yet but in my defense, I NEVER have my volume turned on and I usually have my phone behind or underneath several books and bottles of water that I have on my nightstand so I would say that is a step in the right direction.
3. Before bed read at least ten minutes of something – I am not going to tell you what to read because everyone is different but if you are like me and certain things cause you to be anxious maybe steer away from anything that is going to make you more on edge and alert.
I used to read things that were really motivating and inspiring at bed time but my problem was these things would make me so excited that I couldn’t shut my brain off. Ideas would be rolling through my head so much that I think I made it harder to fall asleep rather than easier.
For the record, I have not mastered this one yet. I do this often, but not as often as I would like. The good news is, at this point in my life, by the time my head hits the pillow, I am ready for sleep. It has taken me many many years to get to that point and I am pretty sure being a new Mom has helped because let’s face it, we are always ready for a good nap.
4. First thing in the morning drink a huge glass of water – Seriously. When I started doing this I realized just how badly I needed it. I used to go straight for the coffee and couldn’t figure out why I felt so dehydrated. It was because I wasn’t drinking nearly enough water. There are so many benefits to drinking water first thing in the morning but my main reasons for drinking water first thing includes the increase of my alertness and brainpower.
I can say without a doubt I have mastered drinking water. I start with it first thing in the morning and I drink loads of it throughout the day. I don’t remember the last time I actually felt thirsty which is good because, by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.
5. Move – This one is pretty simple. Just move. Some of you reading this may have a consistent morning routine that involves exercise. If you do, I applaud you. I used to be so much better at exercise. I even had a six-pack and my exercise was my number one priority every single day. Life, however, tends to change and priorities must change too. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. Exercise is way too important for our health to eliminate completely.
My exercise routine has changed significantly over the years but I still make sure to do some form of it almost every single day. Right now walking with my son is the main form of exercise I get. We walk around the neighborhood almost every day and it is good for both of us and something I look forward to.
If you don’t have a lot of time to exercise try to commit to at least five minutes a day. Seriously, just five minutes. Instead of mindlessly scrolling for five minutes, do squats continuously for those five minutes. You could also walk on the spot for five minutes or do jumping jacks for five minutes. Whatever you want, just do it for five minutes. You will probably realize how good you feel and it might entice you to extend it to ten minutes.
When we believe something is important, we usually make time for it.
6. Read – Notice how I have said to read before bed and in the morning too. This one might not jive with some people as I said and I get that. I am a reader so for me it’s a no brainer but I know not everyone loves reading. I truly believe reading is something you have to train your body to do. It takes commitment and practice and sometimes it takes the right kind of material.
If you aren’t a reader and you don’t have a ginormous selection of reading material in every room of your house as I do, maybe just start by going to the store and buying a magazine with topics that interest you. Reading can be so inspiring and motivating and can sometimes change your entire outlook on not only your day but your life. You just never know.
I have 100% mastered this one and it was a significant factor in my healing after suffering significant loss. Finding things that inspire you and consuming that in the morning can be so powerful.
7. Eat – This is something I have to make a conscious effort to do. I know any of you with kids that are reading this right now understand that sometimes it can be so easy to forget to feed yourself. Sometimes it’s 11 am before I realize I haven’t eaten anything. All the kids are fed, the dogs are fed, the other things I am supposed to do in the morning have been done but there is one thing I am forgetting.
I try to always make sure that I have something as simple as a Cliff bar on hand to make sure that I can grab it and go. If I don’t and I am required to make something like a smoothie or a piece of toast I know chances are good I may not eat until lunchtime. Please make sure you eat first thing in the morning, your productivity will thank you for it later.
8. Go over your plan for the day – Determine again what MUST get done today and go from there. So lets reiterate, unless you have completed all the other MUSTS, laundry should not be on your plan for the day. If the laundry is the only thing that MUST get done than congratulations you are way ahead of the game.
I am not undervaluing the importance of laundry but I also know we put way too much pressure on ourselves to do everything and laundry is usually one of those things. If it’s driving you crazy just go throw a load in before you start your first task but for the love of God don’t forget it in the wash because that is only going to create more stress. Once you start living each day doing some of these things you can start creating a weekly routine that involves the household tasks like laundry and cleaning.
On that note, if you have been thinking about hiring help like a house cleaner and you have the money to support that, JUST DO IT, and don’t for a second feel bad about it.
9. Journal – write down your thoughts. I don’t care if it’s on a piece of paper, in a journal, or on a napkin; just write. Please try not to do this activity on your phone because that’s just asking for distraction. Do it the old fashioned way and grab a pencil or a pen and write down whatever it is you are thinking about right now.
Some people call this practice morning pages, some people call it brain dumps, others call it mental unload; call it whatever you want, the label doesn’t matter. This simple practice can be so gratifying and can create instant relief of some of your current stressors.
I know this works for many people and anyone I have recommended this too has come back to me and said they had no idea how something so simple could be so helpful in their day. Please at least just try it. This practice not only changed my life but it saved my life.
10. Affirmations – Create some kind of positive affirmation that is relevant to your life right now and say it to yourself every single morning. I know it sounds lame and you will probably feel like an idiot while you are doing it but we are human beings and we need these reminders and we need to believe them.
If you are struggling with something right now it is so important to remind yourself each morning that you are capable of doing anything if you give yourself enough credit and believe you can.
You are capable of learning and capable of forgiving yourself if you need to modify certain things for reasons like an injury.
You are powerful beyond belief and you are worthy of all things.
Remind yourself of this every single day until your positive reminders overpower your negative self-talk. Go ahead and tell yourself this is a stupid practice but I can tell you right now one of the differences between people who are productive and successful and people who aren’t is this; one person does the stupid uncomfortable shit and the other person doesn’t.
Who do you want to be?
11. GO CHANGE THE WORLD – Once you have learned to master all of these things and you are feeling more productive than you ever have before, go out and change the world in whatever capacity you choose.
This doesn’t mean you have to travel the world and build houses for the less fortunate, it also doesn’t mean you have to hustle your way through life to make large amounts of money. This can mean you show up as your best self every single day and you contribute to the world by being a positive and kind human being.
People underestimate how powerful “small” contributions can be. I believe wholeheartedly that things like smiling at a stranger you walk past can change the world. You never know what that person is dealing with today and that smile could have just saved their life.
When I say go out and change the world I mean do whatever it is that makes you feel fulfilled and abundant and this is different for everyone.
Determine what success looks like for you and go out and achieve it BECAUSE YOU CAN.
As I said, I haven’t mastered all of these things but I know through experience and practice that on the days I make each and every one of these things a priority before I scroll through my cell phone, I am way more productive. We are all different and we all have completely different jobs and lifestyles so if you truly believe it’s not possible to do these things every day, try to pick at least one or two and master those. Small steps are better than no steps and I promise you it will make a difference.
Have you mastered any of these things or would you add one to the list? How can you make your day more productive?