5 Things You Should Do Every Day to Be More Productive
“Time abides long enough for those who make use of it.”
– William Shakespeare
Am I making the best use of my time? I used to focus on how many hours I worked a week. Now, I focus on how I can get more done in the least amount of time.
Am I focusing on the right stuff? I found that a lot of what I was doing was actually not needed. Furthermore, I was not prioritizing my tasks appropriately throughout the day. Now, I focus on accomplishing three tasks each day. I arrange them in this order: “most difficult” to “least difficult.” Here are five implementations that have significantly increased my productivity:
Life is difficult. Business is stressful. Family and friends can be draining. It’s easy to get caught up in negativity, which can bring down mood and productivity. I spend at least 15 minutes at the start of my day writing down things for which I am grateful. My “Grateful Log” allows me to go back and look at past entries and then reflect on what’s important in my life today. It can be something as simple as “I’m grateful for my mom’s cooking last night,” or “I am grateful for the text my best friend sent me to lift my spirits.” Most importantly, “I am grateful that my dad is my editor.” My current article is proof positive.
I also find it helpful to read motivational quotes.
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential ... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
“The early worm catcheth the worm.”
– A collection of English proverbs 1670, 1678
I have read many articles that profess the virtue of waking up super early.
I get up at 5 a.m. to workout, read and focus. I realize that my schedule is not for everyone, but it works for me. I think what’s important is to set a schedule that works best for one’s body and one’s life. My best friend, for example, is one of the most productive and successful people I know, but, unlike me, she is most productive at night. She stays up late and sleeps in, and tries not to schedule meetings before 10 a.m. The essence? To be more productive. I think one should create an optimum sleep schedule that works best for him or her. You know your body and brain. Do what works best for you—not what other people tell you you should do. Whatever you decide, create a sleep schedule and stick to it. Strive to be consistent.
It’s easy for me to get sidetracked or derailed. With all the technological distractions (iPhone, iPad, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook), I easily can lose my business focus. Before I know it, it can be 6 p.m. and my day is wasted. So, how do I keep my focus? Every night before I go to bed, I spend 15 minutes setting priorities for the next day. I block out an appropriate amount of time to complete each task and, as I mentioned earlier, I schedule them in order from “most difficult” to “least difficult.” I try to complete the difficult tasks first. I stress out if I have a difficult task hanging over my head all day long. I don’t take phone calls (that is especially difficult for me), check my emails or answer text messages until my tasks have been completed.
“I enjoy hard work; I love setting goals and achieving them.”
4. “Think Time”
I’m as Type A as they come. I used to schedule every second of every day—from when I exercised to when I showered to when I called friends to catch up. My schedule was a bit scary. There wasn’t a second of unplanned time. That was the old me. Fast forward to 2017. I now have 30 minutes of unplanned time in my calendar every day. I call this “think time.”
I schedule at least 30 minutes of “think time” every day to allow myself to be creative, imaginative and strategic. My brain is working, but not in a structured format—it gives me time to think about things in a different light or come up with new ideas. Some of my best ideas have come from happenstance, pursuing a passion or giving my mind the freedom to run wild.
"Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering—because you can't take it in all at once."
– Audrey Hepburn
5. The Online Brand
Having an online brand is a must. It’s an important part of becoming indispensable: someone who is a trusted advisor and leader in the field. Building an online brand and remaining current takes time. I spend one hour a day on social media, seven days a week. I block out at least 30 minutes a day to read, comment, like and post on the social outlets that make the most sense for my industry. I spend most of my time on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. I block a set amount of time for this to prevent myself from focusing on other priorities. Maintaining an online presence helps me develop my professional voice and build an entrepreneurial character.
“Your brand is not a gimmick, it’s a way to telegraph value to the people that matter to you.”
– Seth Price of The Road to Recognition
Increasing productivity makes me happier, healthier and I have more time to pursue my passions. For me, that means more time to grow my supplement company Zen Balance, exercise and write. For my dad, it means more time to follow Giants baseball.
“In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated.”
– Willie Mays
Sarah Scudder is the president of Procureit5, Dallas. Sarah, who is the youngest executive to ever have served on the Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA) board, is the CEO and founder of the Young Innovators Group, focusing on innovation and how to attract, hire and retain young people in the print industry. She co-hosts a weekly radio show, Career Conversations, in which she interviews entrepreneurs, community leaders and people who have made major career advancements. Most recently, she was chief growth officer of The Sourcing Group.