How to get structured productive days

These days it seems multitasking is a necessary and maybe requires to be part of every day living. But sometimes doing 5 things at once means you take too much on and take much longer to finish things.

Sometimes it’s better to have a bit of structure and focus on one thing to get more done. There are times in the day when it’s best to focus on big tasks and not check emails or take phone calls, and there’s other times in the day when emails and phone calls are best dealt with. 

Here’s why I think it’s good to structure your work day and how you can be more productive at work (and in life) by having a bit of structure in your day:

630-730AM: GET ACTIVE & EXERCISE
As far as I’m concerned, morning is the best time to exercise. Go for a run, walk swim or gym session. Run or walk as the sun comes up, listen to the birds singing, pump yourself full of adrenaline to start your day.

No doubt it’ll set you up for the day, put you in a happy mood and make you feel great for the day ahead of you. Get it over and done with to leave the rest of your day free to work, rest and play.

730-8AM: EAT & PREP FOOD
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially after exercise. Sit down to eat and take your time eating it. Drink water and eat a mixture of carbs and protein. Prep food to take with you to work so that you don’t get tempted to snack on crisps or sweets if the afternoon slump hits.

8AM: CHECK EMAILS & FACEBOOK
Morning is the time to check and catch up on emails, check other online websites like News and Facebook. Send important emails in the morning as they’re the first thing someone will come across of you send it then. 

Studies have shown that posts on social media sites tend to be more positive and enthusiastic in the morning. Be positive about life. Try not to worry or talk negatively about the mountain of work you have ahead of you.

And by checking your emails, you might get actions from them, and you’ll be able to catch up with friends and family. Doing this now will prevent you from being tempted to be distracted by personal issues and emails at work.

9-930AM: PLAN DAY / WRITE TO DO LIST
Without a plan or to do list it can be easy to just blindlessly into the first or most appealing task at hand. Don’t make the list too long, and separate tasks into groups like: arrange meetings, sort emails, answer emails, project 1, project 2, phone calls.

Have 3-6 things on your to do list and try to do them in order of priority. If one task will take a short time to complete, then do that first to get it out of the way. Score things off as you go, and add to the list as you go through your day.

Plan and prioritise and focus on each individual task you undertake. Start your day off drinking plenty and continue to take breaks through out the day to refuel and replenish.

930-11AM: TACKLE A BIG PROJECT
Between these hours, your brain contains moderate levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been proven to sharpen concentration. It’s important to focus on the task in hand and work on it until its finished or you’ve made a good dent in it. Try not to be distracted by emails, phone calls or others.

11AM-NOOM: DIFFICULT TASKS
As the morning progresses you become more alert, more able to concentrate and less likely to be distracted. Most adults have a better mental performance in late afternoon, so 11-12 is the ideal time to undertake a difficult task, one which you might have been putting off for a while. Do it bit by bit and focus on it as much as possible to resolve it or get closer to resolving it.

NOON-1PM: CHECK EMAILS

According to research, most people are more easily distracted between 12-4pm. So between 12-1pm is a good time to do some low value tasks which don’t take a lot of time or focus. Answer emails, make quick phone calls, resolve things which are easy to resolve in a few minutes.

In work, use your email inbox effectively: make use of Email Rules to clear email references out of your inbox without having to take time out to move them.  🙂  Set aside times to read, take messages and deal with emails,.

1-2PM: EAT, SOCIALISE, DO PERSONAL TASKS, GET ACTIVE
Use lunchtime to eat, take time out and do personal tasks. Socialise, take a break and get away from your desk. Take your mind off work so that you can go back to it fresh faced in the afternoon.

Go for a short brisk walk or run at lunchtime to re-energise and bust stress. People who exercise perform better at work than people who don’t.

2-3PM: POST LUNCH ASSESSMENT & PLANS
After eating lunch your alertness tends to slump and sleepiness also tends to peak at around 2pm. Use the time to assess how you’ve done with your to do list in the morning, and plan your afternoon.

Ask yourself: Was the morning productive and successful? What can you do in the afternoon to make your day even more productive and successful? take time out away from your desk to refresh if you feel you need to. Take a short walk, get some water or a tea, then get on with your afternoon of work.

3-4PM: MANAGE YOUR EMAILS & PHONE CALLS
Now’s the time to check your emails and reply to anyone who’s been trying up get a hold of you. Sort your emails into categories and deal with ones which can be dealt with quickly.

4-5PM: ORGANISE A MEETING
Towards the end of the working day, the kind us so cluttered and drained that many people can resort to doing work related activities which appear to be productive, but aren’t.

Lost motivation, watching the clock, waiting for home time: It’s a good time for some interaction with colleagues – get away from your screen, get some team working in, catch up and set goals for the next day or week.

5-530PM: WIND UP & PLAN TOMORROW
Look at how your day went, then loosely plan what you’ll be doing tomorrow. Deal with anything that us urgent if can be dealt with quickly. Wind everything down so that you are able to leave on time.

530-8PM: EAT & RELAX
Early evening is the time to catch up with family and eat your evening meal. Sit down to eat, preferably at a table, without distractions like phones, TVs or iPads.

Give your loved ones attention and get attention back from them. Interact and spend time with those you love. Do anything that might need to be done (dishes, DIY, bills, housework etc), but aim to relax and wind down ready to go to bed (another reason why it’s good to exercise in the morning!)

8-9PM: WIND DOWN / READ
Despite you wanting up stay up and do what you want to do, like go online, watch TV, do DIY or create ideas – now is not the time for your brain to become active with ideas, thoughts or activities. Wind down and relax. Read if you want to. Let the day pass by you and close down your mind ready for sleep.

9-10PM: PREPARE FOR BED / GET AN EARLY NIGHT IF YOU CAN

If you’re planning and early morning exercise session (like you should be for a productive day), you need your sleep. It’s a good idea to prepare for and get ready for bed about an hour before you want to be in bed so that you don’t get distracted or caught up doing something other than getting to bed.

Sleep is important so set a regular bedtime, and adhere to it. Turn your thoughts off and get a good nights sleep. Don’t be sidetracked by Facebook, Twitter or late night crap on the telly. Aim to get 6-8 hours sleep (or whatever works got you.)

How productive and successful are you in a day? Could any of the tips on this page help you be more productive?

Here’s a daily plan you can print off and keep at your desk to keep you on track.  🙂

Plan

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