Starting a productive day

I don’t claim to be an expert in productivity. But over time I’ve noticed patterns in what helps me get things done, along with┬áthe issues that make it hard for my peers to stay on track. I had a form of home schooling for almost two years while in high school, I think this really helped me to discipline myself early on, and enabled me to work from home as a freelancer for many years later on.

Now that I’ve framed my background a little bit I’d like to put one thought or suggestion, take it as whatever you’d like, that can help to get started on the right foot, probably something I learned while carving out my working mode skills while in homeschool.

How your start your day frames how the rest of the day might go. It’s never impossible to get back into a working state of mind, but if you spend the first 30 minutes of the day at your desk dilly dallying, I think it will be much harder to get into a “Get shit done” mode.

So many thoughts and ideas swirl around when we are waking up, showering/dressing/getting ready to go to (or for homeworkers – simply to start), it’s likely some of those thoughts are there to help you finish un-started or incomplete work related tasks. Whether you are aware of it or not, your brain preps you each day to get things done. All that prepping is easily lost; if you check your email, look at the news, read a blog post or twitter feed, you are sending yourself into a tailspin that can continue for the rest of the day. Those prepped thoughts which were just under the forefront of your thoughts get lost, buried and will now be much harder to pull back up to an easily accessible place.

If you find it hard to get right into action when you’re starting your day, just try this:

  1. Make a short list of the things you need to do, it shouldn’t be longer then 3-5 tasks, if you find yourself writing more that’s ok but don’t go into over kill. Ideally the items on the list would only take you 1-2 hours to complete, or before lunch. Make sure to put something easy on there, something you can do in 5-20 minutes.
  2. Then do the easiest thing immediately.

This works wonders, because it gets your thoughts circling around what you need to be doing, and thus starts to channel all those ideas you’ve prepped up to that point. Keeping it short makes the list approachable from an emotional and motivational stand point. If you put something huge and painful that will likely take all day or longer, you’re not very likely to want to do anything on that list as it just gets you closer to the painful items. If all you have to do is a big painful project, only write down smaller sub-steps of that project that on their own are simple and short items and also get you closer to finishing the big overall task.

Having this simple approach will feel rewarding, you wont become distracted from new thoughts that social media, news, etc can put in your head, and once you feel rewarded you can risk going into one of those non-productive modes knowing you already got somethings done. Or you may just feel good about getting things done and want to do more…

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