The Don't Quit Podcast

15 Steps to a Productive Workday

For freelancers, business owners, or any professional that sets their own hours, they often deal with trying to get the most out of their time. There’s tons of distractions that keep people from doing their best every day. A productive workday needs to be a priority if you want to be successful and a lot of that is just finding what works for you.

We’re all unique, what works for me, might not work for you. But there’s plenty of things that are proven to work, I feel it, other business owners did too, Let’s see if this will work for you.

1. Have a Task List for the Day

Have clear goals of what you want to do today. If you’re not aiming, you’re not hitting. While there’s so many things you can be doing today, prioritize what’s most important. Find out what makes life better as soon as possible and do it first. There’s only a finite amount of time and work capacity in a day, make it count.

2. Have a Daily Remembrance

Make your tasks for what you need to do today visible at all times. Keep it on sticky notes or a photo on your phone’s home screen. Out of sight, out of mind is very real. If you don’t see it, then you won’t have it.

3. Place More Emphasis on Finishing Tasks Rather than Starting New Ones

Busy people always have more than one thing going on. Not only that, but tasks that require their own set of steps. Let’s not forget any personal tasks at home as well. With all these tasks coming at you, it’s tempting to start multitasking. By doing this you’ll be spending more time and effort doing than finishing. Success isn’t determined based on how you start, but how you finish.

4. Know the Strongest Times of Your Work Day

Some people are morning birds, some are night owls (like me). Everyone has different energy levels depending on the time of day. I don’t do anything productive until noon and never feel ‘in the zone’ until after midnight. Instead of fighting when you should work, find out when you want to work. Don’t fight an uphill battle.

During the day I do my daily routines of social media posting, responding to emails, getting inspiration from other designers. Then later in the day I’ll be writing blog posts, designing for clients, or working on my next project on TyypoPrints. The levels of intensity to make the work more bearable and efficient.

5. Give Yourself Some Flexibility

I’ve mentioned the importance of prioritizing your tasks and different times of the day, but it’s important to not be rigid about your daily schedule. There will be days nothing goes according to plan, and that can ruin what you have planned for tomorrow and so on. Everyone loves to work with someone else who is flexible, especially with the uncertainties of life.

6. Have a Specified Ending Time for Work

I say a lot about working and keeping productive, but I will also say that resting is just as important. Our minds are like a sharp knife going through the process of working. Then sooner or later, that knife is going to get dull like our minds, and can no longer operate as well as it should. This is why it’s important to have a specific ending time for work so you can get the rest to continue doing great work.

7. Bulk the Process

With something things to do, you have most likely broken up your days into small blocks of time for your tasks. Really get down to know what takes flow well into each other. For an example, check your inbox 2–3 times a day instead of every 30 min. This runs well into my previous point of finishing your tasks as you start them to prevent overloading.

8. Track Your Time

Have you actually tracked how much time you spend during activities? If you’re the average person, it’s a no. And that’s ok. You can always start today. Put on a time for your most used tasks and find out just how much everything takes you. What takes the most? the least? why? By knowing this, you’ll be able to give a good judgement about what is and isn’t possible. Not only that, but to find inefficiencies as well.

9. Recognize Your Distractions

By tracking time you’ll quickly find out where distractions re in your work. One of the first steps of maximizing your productivity is identifying your distractions and taking the necessary steps to fix it.

10. Have Realistic Expectations

This is something we’re all guilty of. We want to accomplish so much in a little amount of time that it’s not possible. This leads to increase of stress which results in lower quality of work. Remember this is quality over quantity. Repeating work as a ‘do over’ can take more time and money over the long run.

11. Plan Your Next Day at the End of Each Day

This may be my opinion, but I’ve always found taking the last few minutes at the end of the day to plan out for tomorrow has improved my productivity. Never have to remember what you should do or even mentally prepare for it. A well not forgetting anything.

12. Get Enough Sleep the Night Before

Sleep is really underestimated in productivity methods, much like resting. You hear great people like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs that hardly slept and then there’s people like Benjamin Franklin that made such prominent stance on good sleep. The reality is, sleeping does affect your mood and your outlook on life.

13. Eat Healthy

I’m not a nutritionist so I’ll swiftly say food can impact your energy levels. There’s a lot of other great benefits as well when your body isn’t processing unknown ingredients like corn syrup.

14. Get Fresh Air

This goes hand in hand with taking a break. Just the amount of time it takes to go on a walk and breathe in fresh air is enough to feel better. Other times working outside the office or home can lead to a boost in productivity. For a few minutes of your time can have benefits that last over hours.

15. Work in a Comfortable Environment

If you’re going to be working long hours, might as well be comfortable while doing it. Get a chair that fits you, or use a standing desk. Be aware of straining your eyes, or reducing risk of getting severe carpel tunnel. Good physical health leads to a better mental health.

Anything I missed?


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