How you start your day often dictates how it continues on—firefighting notwithstanding. Last week I shared my approach to email in the morning, which goes against some productivity experts’ advice. This week I’ll share the rest of my daily routine. As always, productivity tips aren’t one size fits all. Take note of your work habits and see how these tips work for you.
To maximize your own productivity:
- Block off time to take care of you.
- Warm up your brain before taxing it.
- Schedule your toughest tasks for your most productive time.
- Reduce distractions by scheduling time for them.
My mornings are dictated by my children; they need to be taken care of before my workday can begin. So my mornings start the night before. I write up an event and task list for the next day (more on that next week). Before bed, I ensure we’re prepared for the next day: homework is done, electronics are charging, schoolbags are packed, and lunches are made. This way I hope to head off any early-morning problems.
Taking care of your personal and family needs first thing in the morning can ensure they get done. Whatever your routine is, make taking care of yourself a priority.
START WITH A WARM-UP
When I’m ready to start my workday, I start with that warm-up I talked about last week. Email is part of the warm-up, so that I can make any scheduling adjustments right away. I send out assignments to my team then, too.
Next, I do a little social media. If social media is part of your marketing, it’s wise to schedule the time (read: limit it) and tasks to be done. Many people check social media at the start of the day, so I will check a couple of my favorite haunts. I also check in with my mastermind group; for me, it’s like checking in with colleagues when I arrive at the office. It sets the tone for the day.
Like email, though, social media can become a rabbit hole, so I limit my time to 20 minutes. Pomodora Technique followers will find this familiar. Anything that might take longer (a good discussion in EAE Backroom, for example), I note to look at later, during a break.
PAIR PROJECT DIFFICULTY WITH ENERGY
In an hour or less, I’ve gotten a good overview of my workday and my community. Now I’m ready to dig in to client projects. My preference is to jump into a big project and take advantage of my freshness and productivity. I’ve discovered that my most productive work time is about an hour into my workday and continues for the next four hours (usually this means 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). I avoid scheduling meetings or appointments during this time as well.
Other days, though, I’m less energetic. So I’ll start with a quick or easy client project instead, to help me find my groove. It’s like an extended warm-up, one with less chance of turning into procrastination.
My energy flags by midafternoon, making it a good time for meetings, administrative work, and short client projects. Since this coincides with the end of the school day, mid- to late afternoon can mean taxiing my children around or helping with homework.
To help me stay productive, I check email and social media between projects or after a couple hours of work. Again, I limit the time. It’s a break, not a task.
Break times can’t all be about email and social media, though. Walk away from the computer and make a cup of tea. Do a small task. My breaks often include shifting laundry, watering the garden, or knitting a row or two.
PLAN FOR TOMORROW
I leave the last 30 minutes of my day for responding to a few emails and preparing for the next day.
Not every day goes according to plan. As I write this, it’s almost 6 p.m., I have dinner to finish cooking, and we’re having a guest for dinner. That’s how life goes sometimes. By knowing how I work best and organizing my days to take advantage of that, most days do go according to plan.
Maximize your own productivity, and let me know how it goes.