How To Schedule Your Day More Productively
Get the most out of your workday.
Having a productive day can sometimes be downright impossible. I'll sometimes stare at the blank word document on my computer for ages with nothing but air moving back and forth in my brain. While I have some days where you cannot stop my workflow it feels like other days I have never written a word in my entire life. Have you ever felt this way before? I promise you are not alone and we like to keep it under wraps for whatever reason.
I'm here to break the silence. 40 hours a week of constant productivity is hard—really hard, especially when you can envision that beautiful soft bed waiting to caress your tired aching body. While some days (or even most days) it can be hard to stay focused, I can almost guarantee that you can find something inside of you to work through this lull. I have successfully used these tips the past few months and, with a little hard work and determination, have effectively scheduled my day to get the most productivity out of each hour.
Make a game plan.
Obviously, to schedule a productive day you have to do some sort of planning. Winging it, in theory, is awesome, but rarely works out the way we want it to. Before I even start my day I try to plan out what each hour is going to look like and try to stick to that. Do you work a typical 9-5 job? While I now work from home, I used to work the typical desk job most people have. I learned fast that actually planning out each hour was not only beneficial but kind of necessary to get the most out of each day.
I work better with small breaks as opposed to one hour in the middle. I'll break up that typical hour into 10-minute intervals and schedule them throughout my day. This gives my mind a little break every couple hours and helps me gather my thoughts to refocus. I use an actual planner that has each day broken up into hours but you can also use google calendar to create a game plan.
Typically, my first few hours are my hardest working hours because that is my peak productivity time. Find when you are the most focused and schedule that block of time for the bulk of your to-dos. Then force yourself to keep to your schedule. If you find yourself slacking off maybe change up your break times to help re-energize your mind.
Schedule difficult to-dos first thing.
We all have that one thing on our list of to-dos that we absolutely loathe. For me, I love writing but absolutely hate coming up with new ideas and promoting my work. I would put it off every hour until it was coming close to the end of the day. By that time, I would either talk myself out of it (I can always do it tomorrow) or my mind would be so exhausted that only half of my energy would go into it.
Everything you do should have as much quality as you can give it. Therefore, while it might suck, you should tackle those harder chores first. Right in the morning, we are usually more focused and ready for the day. This is the perfect time to get difficult things out of the way so we can focus on what we actually enjoy doing. Not only is this extremely effective, it makes the rest of the day go by like a breeze.
Cut out distractions.
Do you have your phone right next to you when you work? Or (if you work from home) do you have the television going on in the background? I used to work with my favorite TV show playing right behind my office space. While I deluded myself into thinking this helped me focus, I realized a good chunk of my time was spent watching the show instead of working. The same goes for our phones. Every time a notification would go off my mind would pause any work I was doing to see what was happening in the social media world.
Now I keep the TV turned off and my phone either off or on 'do not disturb' during my work hours. I personally prefer the 'do not disturb' for the simple fact that I want loved ones to be able to reach me in case of emergency. The fewer distractions you have around your work environment will put 100 percent of your focus on the task at hand. You can still play light music or check your phone periodically, just try to keep it at a minimum.
Be reasonable with your goals.
Starting off on my writing journey I would schedule each day with a million tasks that I wanted to accomplish. Obviously, half of those goals would not be completed and I would end the day exhausted and depressed that I had not finished my to-dos. Not only did this put a damper on my work day it would seep into my non-work hours as well. Have you ever had this happen to you?
Stop piling your desk high with impossible expectations. Doing this is only setting you up for failure. I like to set up my day with a couple articles and little to-dos that need to be completed. Not only can I manage that, but I typically surpass my little list and go above and beyond. Now I feel extremely accomplished at the end of the day and I have found that I get even more done when I schedule less on my plate.
Try out each day with a couple of big things that need to be completed followed by a few small tasks. Once you have finished those tasks you can move on to other things you need done or even start on next day's schedule. Not only will this put you in a better mindset, but you will feel more energized to actually accomplish more (we all like that feeling of excelling at something).
At the end of the day, we are in control of how we use each hour in the day. When we start scheduling things out, setting up realistic goals, and cut out distractions, we end up feeling accomplished. Being productive, in a way, is a mind game. The work ethic is there as well as the skills needed; we just sometimes need a nudge (or a heavy shove) to get the ball rolling.