Maintaining devotion and dedication on a daily basis can prove a bit of a challenge over time. The drive to stay focused may begin to wander, and there are going to be days where you’d rather stay in bed and sleep. However, with just a few rituals you’ll maintain your focus and boost productivity, all at the same time. While you should form a schedule and identify a routine that best works for your own productivity, here are seven daily rituals to get you started on boosting productivity and maintaining focus.
1. Ditch the Distractions
There are plenty of distractions around you at all times. It doesn’t matter if you work at home or in an office somewhere. Every distraction eats away at your productivity. Even if the distraction seems small, each little distraction adds up.
Take your Internet browser tabs. If you have your email open you may stop and check any incoming message. Chances are the majority of these messages don’t need an instant reply, yet checking every few minutes or once an hour will zap time better spent on other tasks. The same is true with social media. Having that Facebook or Twitter feed open pulls your attention away from your work. Plus, reading all the updates continually flowing on the profiles can become mentally taxing.
Away from your desktop, there is your physical workspace. A dirty workspace with mounds of paperwork and books will pull your attention. Even the postcard from the tropical retreat you visited a few years ago is a distraction. Yes, it’s a nice reminder of something you’ve done in the past, but unless you cut down on distractions you may never get back there.
According to Dynamic Signal, the average individual spends 13 hours of their week on emails. 13 percent of these emails are spam messages, and only 28 percent of the messages are actually dedicated to working. By reducing email and other office distractions you’ll save a substantial amount of time while boosting productivity.
2. Create a To-Do List the Night Before
Go into the morning with a definitive to-do list. This way, you already know what you want to get done in the day. Once you have this to-do list you’ll want to attack it in a few different ways.
First, go after the items on the list that needs to be accomplished right away. These are the most pressing items and so you want to focus on these items first. From there, go through the list and check off items that can be done quickly.
It can be a mental boost to cross items off of a list, even if it only took a few minutes to complete. It’s still one thing off the list you won’t have to worry about later. You’ll feel more productive as you cross items off your list, which will boost productivity and push you on toward the next item you want to cross off.
According to Trend Hunter, one of the best ways to boost productivity with your to-do list is to target the most important tasks and then work outward from there.
3. Set a Timer and Take a Break
Sitting down at the desk and knowing you need to work for eight or nine hours straight (with a lunch built in there somewhere) can be a challenge. After all, a sprinter can’t go full speed for an entire marathon. That’s a quick way to achieve burnout.
When starting a new job you might have additional motivation and the drive to work as hard as you can for as long as you can, but this feeling will not last, and eventually, you’ll see your productivity begin to drop. One of the best ways to work around this issue is to set a timer.
Set a timer for how long you’ll work without any distractions. For example, set the timer for an hour (you don’t want to go too much longer because then your mind will start to wander). For the full hour focus complete on the task you’ve selected. You’ll get a good amount done because you know you have a break coming, so you’ll mentally want to focus and do as much as possible.
When the timer expires take a short break. This can be getting up, stretching, walking out to grab a cup of coffee, or if you work at home it may be to let the dog outside. Don’t focus on work for the short break. Let your mind focus on other subjects. If you perform guided meditation this can be a good time for that as well. A 10-minute guided meditation refresh will completely block out work, so when it’s time to return to the desk you’ll be ready to tackle the next set of time you put on the timer.
According to Capterra (2018), and the heavily researched Pomodoro Technique, one of the best way to remain highly productive is to focus on a task for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, and then repeat the task four times (this lasts two hours). At the end of the two hours, you should take a longer 15-minute break and then repeat the process.
4. Music Helps
It’s amazing what music can do not only for your mood but your overall output. Of course, the kind of music helps with this as well. If you’re going to the gym music with a heavier beat and a faster pace rhythm has been shown to improve performance and to help keep your heart rate elevated longer while you work out.
However, as you’re not working out but instead you’re focusing on mental work you’ll want to select a different kind of music. Ideally, you won’t go with music with lyrics (or at least lyrics you understand). If you listen to music with lyrics your mind is more likely to wander and you may find it difficult to concentrate because your brain will want to complete the sentences being sung it will inadvertently focus on what is being said.
Instead, you’ll want to go with music that does not have lyrics. Classic music is one option that works well. You can also listen to movie scores or even new-age music without lyrics. Music with foreign language singing can work well if you don’t know what is being said (such as classical Spanish or French songs). You may need to experiment some but you’ll find what works best for you and your motivation.
According to WebFX, 61 percent of all employees say listening to music at work makes them happier. In the same study, 90 percent of workers perform better when they listen to music, and 88 percent of employees produce more accurate work when they are listening to music.
5. Spend Less Time On What Doesn’t Matter
Have you ever noticed some of the most successful people on the planet wear the exact same clothes every single day? Steve Jobs when he was alive always wore jeans, sneakers, and a turtleneck. George Lucas always wears jeans and a flannel button-down. Mark Zuckerberg always wears jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. Beyond what you might think of their fashion sense, these individuals wear the same basic clothing every single day because it instantly cuts out a decision that isn’t necessary. They can move on with their day and focus on other decisions that do matter.
You may want to have different outfits, which is fine, but pick out the next day’s clothing in the evening. You may also want to plan your meals in advance as well. When you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to eat you’ll free up a good 30 minutes or more during the day, which gives you more time to focus on work and boost productivity.
One of the biggest influences on your productivity and focus isn’t something you do while you’re awake. Sleep is critical toward your overall level of focus. Yes, it can be difficult to stay in the sack for the recommended eight hours every day (especially during the work week). However, you need to be clocking in at least six hours of sleep every day. Six to eight hours of sleep will dramatically increase your level of productivity. So turn off the television earlier and climb into bed at a decent hour.
Give yourself time to decompress before sleep as well. You don’t want to just turn the TV off and roll over. Instead, turn the television off a full hour before you go to bed. You can use this final hour to read. Reading at night not only gives you the opportunity to read up on new strategies and learn new techniques to use in your daily life, but reading also helps tire your brain out, so at the end of the hour you’ll be ready for slumber.
You may choose to take a nap during the day. A nap can be productive, as long as you don’t overdo it. You need to understand your own REM cycle. If you try to wake yourself up in the middle of a cycle you’ll end up feeling groggier than when you started the nap. Ideally, shoot for minutes for a nap. If you wake up feeling great you know you’ve hit the sweet spot for nap lengths. If you feel more tired, you need to shorten the nap by five or 10 minutes. While the nap is shorter, you’ll actually feel better, because you won’t be waking up during the REM cycle.
According to Chanda DW (2018), 50 percent of people do not get the needed amount of sleep per night. This lack of sleep results in a reduction in productivity. It also results in a weakened immune system, which can lead to you becoming sick and missing more workdays. Chanda DW also recommends shooting for a 20-minute power nap, as it stimulates your body as well as two cups of coffee.
Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s great for your mind and your ability to remain productive throughout the day. Working out will elevate your heart rate, which pumps more blood and oxygen throughout your body, including your brain. As your brain will have more nutrients and oxygen, it will be able to perform better than before exercising. Due to this, it’s best to fit a workout in before heading off to work, but if you can’t, try to squeeze one in at some point during the day.
According to RunRepeat (2019), after just 30 minutes of running, you’ll experience an improvement in your mood and you’ll feel mentally relaxed. For the next 24 hours, you’ll remain more productive and you’ll also improve the quality of your sleep. Continuing to run (and workout) will then expand the benefits, including the ability to learn tasks faster while remaining more energetic.
Following a routine is the first step in boosting productivity. Your body will adjust and you’ll know what to expect throughout the day. From there, each of these seven daily rituals will help inspire your mind and keep you energized, no matter what kind of work you have at hand. So whether you’re finding yourself struggling at different points of the day or you want to avoid any potential slowdowns in current productivity, make sure to incorporate as many of these daily rituals as you can.