The Key Ingredient to Productivity
Let's cut to the chase here...if you have a piss-poor attitude then you're not going to be productive. You may have the most organized desk ever and the coolest productivity tools, but if you are grudgingly trying to get things done then it's not going to feel good. If it doesn't feel good then over time it will get harder and harder until it nothing gets done.
That's no way to go through life, Sunshine.
When you have a better attitude, then you feel the satisfaction when getting things done that creates the motivation that helps continue to propel you forward.
Hooray for a fabulous snowball effect!
So how can we get into this better attitude?
There are any number of ways to do this. Following are a few of my favorites:
Have a great morning routine.
For the past year or so I've really been playing around with my morning routine. When I started working from home, things got much more lax because they could. Without a boss to say "be here at 8:30am, showered, presentable, and ready to work" it got reeeeeeeeeeeeally easy to let things slide. Over time, it was just sheer laziness. Delightful as an occasional indulgence but as a daily occurrence it really sucks the energy out of you. Especially when negative things creep in because it makes it harder to perk up afterwards. When you start your day off to a good start, you have a much better chance of keeping it going all day.
My current morning routine works out about like this and has been VERY successful at keeping my energy and productivity riding high all day:
- Glimmer app to gently wake me up. Real alarm clocks piss me off.
- One of the many happy stations on Songza (usually Motown). I LOVE this website and app. You can choose music by genre, decade, mood, or activity. They also have a concierge system that will guide you to the perfect playlist. Since discovering this site I have it on SO much.
- Proper breakfast.
- Real clothes.(may be yoga pants and top...but it's important to get out of my damn robe. Especially if you work from home.)
Sometimes I throw in a workout. Often I don't. My Songza dance party usually gets me going enough and I'm excited to get to work as quickly as possible. I used to meditate in the morning which was great but a much slower and longer start. This puts me in an equally good frame of mind while shaving off time. So instead I meditate mid-day or in the evening before bed.
Other morning routines to check out and get inspired by:
- Jason over at JasonDoesStuff.com wrote an awesome post on why the morning routine is so important and what he does during his.
- Rachel Gadiel at Nourish recently wrote this post on her morning routine.
- And if you really want to dig in, there's a whole website dedicated to people's morning routines! My Morning Routine has TONS of ideas for you to try out.
Have a bad morning? My go-to cure for a morning that's exploded on me is to have breakfast for lunch and pretend you're starting your day over again. This works for me every. single. time. For those I've recommended it to, it's worked for them as well. Sneak in a nap if possible. (26 minutes is the time deemed optimal by NASA. Their studies showed that a 26-minute nap enhanced performance by 34% and overall alertness by 54%. Let me tell you, the NASA Nap is fabulous.)
Daytime Routines and Practices
Identify your natural rhythms. What are your natural highs and lows through the day? Schedule high focus tasks during the high points and easier tasks during your lows.
Get everything on your calendar. This may sound rigid and trite, but it helps to visually see everything you've got going on. Then you know if you've over-scheduled yourself or been overly ambitious with your goals. Ambition is good but regularly not meeting your goals can be a mood-killer. Set realistic goals to maintain motivation and keep moving forward.
Work smart. We're not made to work 8 hours straight without breaks. Our focus just can't hold up that long. My work sessions with clients are 2 hours long because over time I've found that 2 hours is the breaking point where my clients start to lose focus and stop making as good of decisions. When I'm working with an out-of-town client, we work 8 hour days but we also take plenty of breaks. I've ready many articles that talked about the benefits of what I call a 52/17 split: 52 minutes of focused work on just one thing, followed by a 17 minute break. During that break get up, stretch, and do something completely different. I usually do tasks that need to be done around the house or move to the couch and read. I started playing with this and have gotten significantly more done since. So then I started doing it with my out-of-town clients while we put in full 8-hour days and it's worked really well for them too. At this point I'll pretty much swear by it.
Create routines that help focus. I like to light some incense, play music and light a candle. Whatever will help you get in the zone to accomplish the task you want to work on.
Eat well. You're not going to have the most energy and feel your best if you're not fueling yourself well. Now I'm not talking about insane diets or even weight loss. Just eat real, whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat them. Do you feel great and energized? Awesome! Keep eating that. Do you feel drained or gross? Don't eat that food anymore or at least save it for a time that you don't need to be productive afterwards.
Meditation. This doesn't have to be crazy either. Maybe just take 5 minutes to sit in silence. Or repeat some mantras or affirmations that make you feel better. Maybe lounge out and listen to some soothing sounds or music. Whatever you do, this is about taking some time to kick the mental chatter that can be detrimental to so many things in our lives.
Remove, remove, remove. Sometimes getting into a better flow isn't as much about forcing something through as it is removing the unnecessary so that there's nothing blocking the flow. This can be toxic influences such as people, things, and thoughts. This can be actual clutter. Just make sure to let go of anything and everything that is no longer serving you or making your life better.
Regular accountability. Do you have someone who will help hold you accountable? Every Friday morning I meet a friend for breakfast at 7am. We discuss anything and everything going on in our lives and work. We use this time to rehash the week that's just past, talk about the week coming up, and make sure each other is on track with our goals. It's been so beneficial and we've both seen progress by leaps and bounds since we've started doing this. If you don't have someone who will help hold you accountable, then find that person pronto! It's important that they be firm but fair and truly have your best interests at heart to make sure things don't go awry.
Find positive support. To go along with that regular accountability you want to find people who positively support you. There's nothing better for maintaining a great attitude then to know you have people who support you, your goals, and dreams. Sometimes it takes a while to find them, but you'll know it when you do. As an example, I don't get to attend my yoga home here in Fort Worth as often as I'd like or need to but even knowing it's there is a comfort. And I know that every time I walk in, no matter how long I've been away, I'll be greeted with a giant hug and a warm "Welcome home." We all need a place like that.