As what was once a temporary lockdown morphs into our new reality, it’s easy to fall into – for lack of a better word – a slump. Motivation to get up early, to workout, or to get dressed into something other than track pants can experience a dip when you have nowhere to be and no-one to see. But there are ways to fight off the impending laziness and staying on top of your game brings with it an immense sense of satisfaction. Now, I’m no expert (at anything, really) but I pride myself in being able to get shit done – with the help of some very important rituals. Here are some tips on how to be more productive even while the world is falling apart.
1. Start the day right
Let’s start with the hardest step of them all: Dodging the snooze button and getting your butt out of bed.
Just as productivity breeds productivity, laziness works the same way. Except that feeling of laziness is like the universe – in a state of constant expansion. Best to not let it get you at all. It’s so tough when it’s cold outside but warm in your bed – trust me, I know – but taking that first step to get yourself up and to the coffee machine is the most important. Once you’re up and awake you can start checking off all the things on your t-do list, and once they’re done, they’re done!
Which brings me to…
2. Lists upon lists
Having a list of tasks you want to complete is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Not to mention, it feels so great when you check those items off as you complete them. At the end of the day you can look back at all the things you’ve done and really see how your productivity increases.
My recommendation is to write up your list of goals for the next day before you go to bed. That was you can get up and start working at them immediately, without having to try and remember all the things you wanted to accomplish first. I don’t usually number my lists, but placing them in order of importance, or giving them specific time allocations can also be a great way to structure your day.
Pro tip: These days we do so much with our phones it can be tempting to keep your list on there. There are even apps for that! However, I personally find it much easier – and also more satisfying – to write my list down in a book. Not only is it easier to remember to check it and to look back on my lists from previous dates, but it saves me from staring at my phone screen more than I already do. Furthermore, the act of writing itself can be quite calming and therapeutic and a great way to end the day.
3. Tire yourself out to wake yourself up
If this is the only step you take from this article, I will still be proud of you. You can drink all the coffee you want, but if your blood isn’t flowing to your brain, you’re going to get drowsy. Taking a break from your task to get your heart rate up is a fantastic (and important) way to get your energy and motivation back.
Check out some of our old articles to find some great (free!) tools that you can use to stay fit at home:
Pro tip: If you’re not overly fond of exercise, don’t push yourself to do a whole hour of it at a time. break that workout up into multiple 10 or 15 minute sessions in between the other items on your checklist. I actually prefer to do it this way because not only does it give me more energy to complete my other tasks, but I end up getting more exercise in than I would have in just one session. Yeah, you might be a little sweaty in between, but if you’re just at home who exactly is going to complain?
4. Eat for your body and your mind
When lockdown started, I decided to challenge myself to take up intermittent fasting. The fact that I’ve continued this habit until now is testament to how much I’ve been enjoying it. I have more energy, and feel more focused than I do if I eat throughout the day, and contrary to what one would expect, I rarely ever feel hungry.
Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, but healthy food should be. I usually fill up on whole foods, and I follow a plant-based diet. On the one day I decided to treat myself to some instant noodles, I immediately felt a massive dip in my energy. All I wanted to do after eating those noodles was nap! This taught me a valuable lesson about the way what we ingest influences our energy levels, moods, and as a result our productivity.
Your body is a temple. Maintain that temple properly.
5. Reward yourself
There’s a lot to be said about how hustle culture promotes unhealthy standards and ultimately leads to burnout. I’m not saying you need to hustle more than you do, I’m just telling you how you may be able to do it more efficiently. If you get the important stuff out of the way, that opens up more time to relax and reward yourself later.
Rewards are so important if, like me, you start to feel guilty if you’re not being “productive”. Seeing your essential “me-time” as a reward for the hard work you’ve done, rather than as procrastination or laziness, makes it taste that much sweeter.
I recommend scheduling these rewards for the evening, after you’ve completed everything you wanted to get done. However, some people find themselves more productive at night, in which case scheduling a time-controlled block of “me-time” in the morning before you get cracking could work too. This, though, comes with the caveat that you need to make sure that reward time doesn’t become the whole day. Unless, of course, you’ve blocked out the whole day, or the whole weekend, as your reward time, which is fantastic!
Rewards can take many forms – buying yourself something nice, eating a good meal, or just settling down with a good book for an hour or two. Whatever you need to keep yourself centred and balanced!
Staying productive shouldn’t mean pushing yourself, exhausting yourself, or making yourself unhappy. There are always ways to tweak your day so that you can make it work better for you. These tips are what work best for me, but if they don’e suit you, and something else works better, by all means do that!!
Let us know in the comments how you keep your day structured and hold yourself accountable without burning out. Your tips might just help another reader to fulfil their true potential and improve their work live balance.
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