5 Simple Habits That Can Dramatically Improve Your Productivity
Posted on August 29, 2012
The issue of productivity doesn’t usually come to the surface until you start working for yourself (as a freelancer, or a business owner planning a launch, for example). When you’re in your day job you probably don’t have to worry that much about it.
And don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that you don’t have to be productive at work. What I mean is that it’s a lot easier to remain productive without even controlling it consciously when you have a boss above you looking at your results and pointing out tasks you should complete every day.
When you’re on your own, things can get a little out of control, and one day you can find yourself sitting motionlessly, looking at blank screen and not being able to get any work done.
How to prevent this from happening? Well, there are hundreds of books on the issue of productivity, thousands of blog posts and articles. I had my share of writing on the topic too. So today, I just want to present you with my list of 5 helpful habits that will help you get more work done every day.
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1. Start your day early
This is the most basic thing you can do. There’s really nothing more discouraging when it comes to productivity than when you wake up at 11AM, eat your breakfast by noon, and then all of a sudden it’s 1PM and you still haven’t got any work done.
But if you get up at 6AM, things can get really productive really quickly. By 10AM you can already have half of your work done.
Waking up early won’t be easy at first, but experience shows that the first month is the most difficult. After you’ve managed to wake up early for the first 30 days, it should feel pretty natural from then on.
How to get up early? Simply go to sleep earlier. A total of 6-7 hours of sleep is enough. Don’t try to trick yourself into believing that you can go with 4 hours of sleep. It won’t work for the long haul.
2. Don’t sit in your email inbox all the time
Email is the biggest time-waster for every online entrepreneur, marketer, blog owner, freelancer, or anyone who uses it as the main form of communication with their clients and customers.
The common habit people have is to have Gmail (or other kind of email inbox) permanently on in one of their web browser’s tabs. That way, they can respond to every message immediately.
Don’t do it! This is highly distracting.
I know, taking a quick look at your browser’s status bar doesn’t take much time, but it does interrupt your thought process, and you have to take at least 30 seconds or so to get back to your previous state of mind. If you look at your email every 2 minutes then it becomes a really big obstacle on your way to productivity.
What’s the solution? Check email twice a day:
- In the morning – 2 hours into working. Don’t make email your first task of the day!
- At the end of your workday.
3. Start your day with warm up
I’ve been talking about the idea of warming up in many of my posts, but it really is that important.
I know that it’s hard to get going in the morning… You just woke up, got your things together, prepared some coffee, but you still feel a little dizzy and not quite in your full processing power, so to speak.
This is the perfect time to warm up a little by doing some simple task that doesn’t require much of your brain power.
I, for example, write a personal journal, and I can recommend it to anyone. Writing a personal journal is a really easy task to do. You don’t have to prepare yourself to it, you can just sit in front of your computer, launch a piece of software, and start writing whatever you have in mind.
This will get your creative mind going, so you’ll have easier time switching to the more demanding tasks later on. Remember, getting started is always the hardest part…
4. Have a mid-day nap
I’m not joking here, so bear with me for a moment.
Mid-day naps are great for at least a couple of reasons.
First of all, they allow you to have less sleep at night. If you’ve read The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss, you know that by having a 20-30 minute nap in the middle of the day, you can decrease your night sleep to 6 hours (from the standard 8 hours), and have as much rest.
Secondly, they give you a boost of power once you get up that can be enough to get you going till the rest of your workday.
If you don’t believe me then just try it for a week and see what happens.
5. Master a time and work management system
This can require some effort on your part, but it’s well worth it.
There are a number of methodologies/systems you can use for improving your productivity and getting the most out of your workday. The one I recommend is Getting Things Done.
The methodology has been created by David Allen and today it’s widely used around the world by thousands of people (myself included).
I can honestly say that this is the main reason why I am productive almost (come on, nobody’s perfect) every day.
If you don’t want to go through the whole book, you can start by checking out this series on Lifehack: Productivity Made Simple.
Most importantly, this methodology is great for everyone. It doesn’t really matter if you’re an online business owner, a small business owner who wants to succeed with social media, a las colinas real estate agent, or a freelance writer searching for some work.
This covers my list of 5 habits that will improve your day-by-day productivity. Even though these habits are simple in nature, setting them in place can take a while, so I wish you luck and feel free to share your opinion about this whole approach. Does it make sense to you?
In the meantime, take care and don’t hesitate to connect with me on Twitter for some more insights (@carlosinho).