If you’ve ever struggled to cross off those ‘to-do’s at the end of the day, you are not alone. By introducing a few simple systems into your daily routine, you can automate certain tasks and increase the chances of getting everything done. I’d like to share a few productivity systems that I try to stick to, and I hope they might work for you too—give ‘em a whirl!
Working out provides many benefits to your health and wellbeing, but we all know how tough it can be to actually get out and exercise every day. Even if you pencil in gym session after work, it all too often ends up interrupted by evening outings and obligations. For me, I like to exercise first thing each day, and have set up a daily system to keep me on track.
1. Lay out your exercise clothes and shoes the night before
2. Set the coffee machine the night before to brew right when you get up the next morning. I have a Keurig machine that I love because you can quickly brew 1 cup of coffee at a time.
3. When the alarm clock rings, jump out of bed right into your shoes and lace them up. And your cup of Joe will be ready when you need it!
Breakfast is often noted as the most important meal of the day, and also one of the most overlooked. To get your day started right and help breakfast happen for you (and other meals, too), try to make it as easy as possible to prepare.
For example, I find fruit smoothies to be a great quick, easy, and healthy day-starter. Just throw a little yogurt, juice, frozen fruit, and ice in a smoothie blender, and you’ve got a refreshing and satisfying smoothie. Make a system out of it by having your blender clean and ready to go (clean-up should be part of the system), your ingredients in the fridge, and a bag of frozen fruit in the freezer.
Plan your day
The first item on your agenda when you get in the office should be to plan your agenda. Without a plan it is much too easy to diverge from your direct path. Simply grab a notebook and write a list of what you need to accomplish. Brainstorm everything you know you need to do, then go back and assign a priority level to each task, and rewrite them in that order. All tasks should be clearly stated, and remind yourself exactly why you need to accomplish each item—knowing that answer will help to motivate yourself and really give you a reason accomplish it.
We are all bombarded with emails throughout the day. Instead of constantly getting distracted by emails, make it a point to read and respond only a few times a day, say, three. Check once in the morning, once after lunch, and finally in the late afternoon. ‘Batching’ your emails together will help to keep you focused, making you more productive. And if you do need to make sure emails are read sooner, set filters in your email to notify you of high priority messages.
Create a designated, disruption-free work environment. Try your best to keep your desk, shop, and/or studio clean and organized. Knowing where everything is will ensure you don’t waste time searching for the stapler or oil wrench. If you are based out of the house you can set up a work area in a spare bedroom or in the basement, or go to a café or other work space on occasion. It is important to distinguish a specific work zone; when you are in the office, work is to be done.
As an entrepreneur, I feel I could work 24/7 and never get enough done. There is always something that could be done to help build and improve the business. While it is great to put in hard work and grueling hours to build a business, a line needs to be drawn to help balance your life with the most important things, like family and friends. Set a designated work schedule and stick to it. You’ll certainly have days that are longer than others, but do your best to separate the two.
Once you have an environment designed for being efficient, you must focus on your highest priority goals and tasks. We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule and applied it to various parts of life. In this specific example, we’ll say that 80% of your productivity comes from 20% of your time. If we can eliminate distractions and unimportant tasks we’ll free up more time and become more efficient. Focus on the top priority tasks on the list and make it a point to do them. If we miss a few of the less important items that’s okay. You’ll feel you accomplished the things that matter most.
Implementing systems in your everyday life will lead to higher productivity and a more fulfilling outcome. Systems help automate tasks and make them easier and more likely to be completed. Planning, preparation, and organization are key strengths to always improve in order to become more productive. In brief, develop a plan, create an environment that promotes productivity, and then focus on your tasks. These three main points will ensure you get more done in your day and focus on priorities.