Category Archives: Productivity

5 Productive Starts for a Successful Morning

What makes highly successful people happier, less stressed, and more productive? One of the ways is how they start their mornings!

Successful people know that time is precious and the importance of having a productive morning. The morning is the foundation from which the rest of the day is built on and can predict the kind of day you’re going to have. How you choose to start your morning will have an impact on how you feel throughout the day. Choose to start your morning by being productive and you will feel happier and more refreshed throughout the day. Waking up late, rushing, and scrambling to get things done in the morning will cause you to feel more stressed and tired during the day.

Below is a list of 5 ways to get your morning off to a great start!

1)    Wake up early – When you wake up before the rest of the world wakes up, you have time to focus on what you need to do before you get distracted by meetings, emails, and phone calls. Waking up at 5:30 am gives you  more opportunities to fulfill your personal priorities first and do things that matter to you.

Tip: If you have a hard time getting up in the morning, try going to sleep earlier the night before and gradually wake up 10 minutes earlier each week for the next two weeks, or until you have no issues waking up to the new time. Then, wake up 20 minutes earlier for the next three weeks. Gradually wake up a few minutes earlier each time so that you barely notice the change from day to day. Read additional tips on how to wake up earlier.

2)    Exercise – Many people put off exercising until later in the day, and then not end up exercising because they “ran out of time.” Whether it’s going to the gym, jogging around your neighborhood, or doing yoga, getting that exercise first thing in the morning helps reduce stress later in the day. It gives you a boost of energy for the day and that sense of accomplishment. Exercise has many benefits and not only will it make you think clearer, but you will also be healthier rand scientifically happier.

3)    Eat a healthy breakfast You most likely have heard people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast provides the nutrients and energy to jump-start your day. Your brain needs fuel and having that healthy breakfast can boost your productivity and focus. Eat “brain foods” that give you a mental edge, including eggs, nuts, oats, and fruits. If you don’t feel hungry in the morning, you might be eating too much for dinner.

Not only is having breakfast beneficial for your physical health, but it is a great opportunity to sit at the table and spend time with your family. Or if you live by yourself, you can read or listen to something positive and inspiring while you enjoy your bowl of oatmeal.

4)    Focus on projects that require your full attention – Take advantage of the quiet hours of the morning and complete the most important projects early in the day when your willpower is still high. Having that time to yourself allows you to focus without being interrupted. Everyone has a dreaded task that they would like to procrastinate on. Instead of having it loom over you throughout the day, get it out of the way as early as possible and the rest of the day will be much easier. As tempting as it may be to check your Facebook, it’s a good idea to eliminate these distractions until you have completed the important work.

5)    Plan your day – Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Planning can be done either the night before or the morning of. Spend a few minutes to write down the tasks and goals you want to achieve for the upcoming day. Prioritize and schedule your appointments.  It’s also a good idea to refer back to your list during the day to help you stay on track. Make sure you schedule in some time to relax! Allotting time for breaks will help your day be more manageable and less stressful. In the evening, reflect on your day’s activities. Did you complete what you set out to do? If not, what could you have done differently?

Successful people also know that not only is it important to get a productive start to your morning, but it should be a habit. Keep the same routine every day and you will achieve the results you want. Just like successful people have a productive routine in the morning, they also practice good nighttime habits.

9 Tips to Help Manage Your Time

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day? Perhaps, you need to review how you manage your time and stop procrastinating. Below are some tips to manage your time effectively.

Time Management Tips

1)      Make a daily to-do list – Prioritize and put the most important tasks at the top of the list. Even if those tasks are dreadful, tackle them first and get it over with instead of dreading and avoiding it throughout the day. Include things you want to do on your list too, so that you have things to look forward to. Try motivating yourself with a reward if you get to everything on your list.

2)     Differentiate between what’s important and what’s urgent – Dwight D. Eisenhower once stated, “what is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” Don’t fall into the trap of believing that all urgent tasks are also important. Knowing the difference between the two can have a huge impact on managing your time efficiently and effectively.

3)     Take work with you – Anytime you find yourself with extra time, pull your work out. For example, you can bring your work with you to a doctor’s appointment because you may expect to be sitting in the waiting room for a while. This tip is perfect if you commute daily. We can use the time that we spend on the bus or train to get something done.

4)     Say no – Sometimes, in order to get all the important things done on your list, you have to say no to certain things that are not urgent. If you need to get something done today and your friend asks you out to a movie, don’t rush into saying yes right away. It is okay to suggest a different date when you have finished what you needed to do. This can be a difficult task for many people but do your best not to fall into the trap of having that instant gratification.

5)     Find your productive time – Do you find yourself being more efficient in the morning or at night? If you’re a morning person, try waking up earlier.  Starting your day an hour earlier can help you complete your tasks faster so that you can spend more time during the day doing things that you want to do guiltlessly.

6)     Set uninterrupted time each day for yourself – Set up a time devoted only to completing your work. During that time, don’t surf the web, check your email or respond to texts. If it is an emergency, people will call you. Check your messages and respond at certain times during the day, such as once every two hours. If you need to check messages as they arrive, limit each session to less than five minutes. You’ll find yourself being much more productive.

7)     Set up a schedule – Figure out how much time you need to get your own work done and determine how much free time you have after that. Don’t make too many commitments if you don’t think you will have time to keep all of them without sacrificing the time you set aside for your own work. Don’t forget to schedule time to relax.

8)    Set reasonable deadlines – When you set reasonable deadlines for yourself, it gives you motivation to meet it. Even if it is something that you need to do on a daily basis, plan to get the task done before a certain time in the day.

9)     Review your progress – At the end of the day, review what you have accomplished. See if you were able to complete all your tasks for the day. If not, review to see if you wasted any time and how you can avoid time wasters. Then, make a new list for the next day in order of importance.

The Difference Between Urgent and Important Tasks

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Do you ever feel like you’re always busy working, yet your list of things to do never seem to get any shorter? Or you feel like you’re getting a lot of things done, but you’re not actually making any progress with your long-term goals? Remember that being busy doesn’t necessarily equate to being productive. You might be struggling with understanding the difference between what’s really important for you and what’s merely urgent. Understanding this difference can make a huge impact on the quality and productivity of both your personal and professional life.

Great time management means being efficient and effective. This means that we must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent. Knowing the difference will help us overcome our natural tendency to focus on urgent, unimportant tasks so that we can make time to do what’s actually essential for our success.

Urgent tasks are those that require immediate attention and are generally associated with achieving someone else’s goals. These are often the tasks we concentrate on first, yet they are usually not important to our long-term goals. For example, many people perceive a phone call as something that is urgent and one that that needs to be answered right away. However, completing this urgent task is not necessarily important and, often times, can be rescheduled to a later time.

Important tasks are those that contribute to our long-term values and goals. These tasks will help us advance our career and our well-being. They don’t have immediate deadlines, but you need to make an effort to complete them in order to achieve your goals.

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Stephen Covey, author of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, popularized Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix, a helpful and inspiring set of principles to help us avoid wasting value time and energy. Use Eisenhower’s Decision Box to identify the quadrant that your activities fall under so that you can prioritize and manage your time better.

  • Important and Urgent – Q1 consists tasks that are urgent and contribute to fulfilling your long-term goals and missions in life. These are crises and problems, such as having cholesterol problems and you need to get a full body health check, or a term paper deadline for a class you need to pass in order to graduate. Completing these tasks will help you achieve your desired outcomes in life.
  • Important but not Urgent – The tasks in Q2 help you achieve your personal and professional goals, but are not time-sensitive. This includes learning a new skill and strengthening relationships. Beware of this quadrant because, since these activities aren’t pressing for our attention, we typically keep them there forever. For example, how many times have you put off exercising because it’s not urgent? We tell ourselves we’ll get to those things someday after you take care of all this “urgent” (but not important) stuff. What if “someday” never comes? You’ll be delaying your important tasks for a long time! According to Stephen Covey, we should seek to spend most of our time in this second quadrant. Fulfilling these tasks will provide us with lasting happiness, fulfillment, and success. Invest your time in Q2 activities and you can prevent many of the crises and problems of Q1.
  • Not Important but Urgent– Q3 tasks are those that other people want you to do that delay you from achieving your goals and do not contribute to your own desired outcomes. See if you can reschedule or delegate these tasks. For example, if you receive a phone call from your friend during your productive hours, ask if you can call him or her back later. Then, create a time slot, or “office hours” for those you interrupted you, so that you can deal with all those interruptions at once. This will allow you to concentrate on your important tasks for longer. Don’t fall into this quadrant’s trap and spend a lot of time and energy on urgent tasks that are not important. Many people spend time on Q3 tasks, thinking they’re working on Q1 tasks. Q3 tasks are not necessarily bad, but you may not want to constantly please others at the expense of your own happiness.
  • Not Important and not Urgent – Q4 tasks are simply time wasters, and includes watching TV, playing video games, and scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram.  Avoid these distractions as much as possible. That’s not to say you have to get rid of all these activities; just don’t let them get in your way of accomplishing your goals. If you have completed what you have set to accomplish for the day, reward yourself by watching your favorite TV show before you sleep and get ready for the next day. Sometimes, knowing that you will have a reward waiting for you helps you to stay motivated throughout the day.

Prioritize and plan!

In summary, invest your time in Q2 activities to eliminate crises of Q1, balance the requests of Q3 with your own needs, and reward yourself with Q4 activities after you have completed the tasks in all the other quadrants.

The secret to effective and efficient time management is prioritize your tasks and activities based on their importance and urgency. Don’t spend your days busy rushing to complete tasks that have no lasting benefit for you and then have no energy to do anything else.

Download this Eisenhower Decision Matrix Worksheet – We have created this free worksheet for you to download and apply to your own life. Make a list of the tasks you spend most of your time and assign them to the appropriate quadrants in the matrix. Doing so can give you an idea of what activities you should be focusing on and what activities you can ignore.