Time passes whether you spend it doing meaningful work or scrolling on your phone. Productive people understand this and know how to manage their workdays to accomplish all the things they want to do.
To achieve your goals and become the best version of yourself, it's imperative that you learn how to have a productive day. You must get clear on your goals and adjust elements in your daily schedule to improve your personal productivity over time.
This article shares how to set yourself up for success every day. We'll discuss what a productive day looks like and tactics or habits you can practice to have more days like that.
What a Productive Day Looks Like
A productive day is different for everyone. Your responsibilities at work and home dictate your daily routine and the kind of tasks that are important to you. Someone who works in a fast-paced marketing role, for example, would have a different productive day from a software developer. However, for most people, a productive day includes:
- Creating value at work
- Being useful to people around you
- Handling work and personal duties
- Maintaining good mental and physical health
An ideal productive day is one where you're organized and in control, moving from one task to the next with high efficacy.
Studies show that people are more productive when in a positive mood. This means you're more likely to have a productive day and enjoy the tasks you do when you're in a good mindset. Balance your days with relaxing and challenging tasks, those that fire you up and also those that help you unwind to keep your days engaging without increasing stress levels.
Remember that a productive day does not mean one where you do not have a moment's rest the entire day. Downtime is just as important as crossing tasks off your to-do list. The ideal amount of downtime depends on your responsibilities at work and home, your lifestyle, and your personality type.
10 Tips to Have a More Productive Day
Designing the ideal productive day requires intentionality, structure, and adaptability:
- Intentionality to be aware of how you're spending your time, on and off work.
- Structure to keep you organized and on a path toward completing important tasks and big projects or goals.
- Adaptability to be able to adjust when unplanned yet important responsibilities crop up.
The following tips have been curated to help you develop these three attributes so you can design more productive days. Practice these habits to have more productive days at work and home, and set yourself up for success.
1. Create a Weekly Plan
Becoming productive requires that you know what you want to achieve. You must have clear goals that you break down into smaller tasks you achieve daily. Creating a weekly plan is a great first step to crafting productive days.
Your weekly work plan, prepared at the start of every new week, breaks down your big goals and projects into deliverables for the upcoming week. Taking time to create this plan, no matter how high level it may be, gives you clarity about the new week. You can divide your big tasks into several days in the week, note any special events, and keep track of all you'd like to accomplish by the end of each day.
Starting each day with a loose plan helps you have more productive days. You may also plan all your work clothes for the week. Instead of scrambling to find clothes every morning, you know what to prepare and wear.
2. Go to Bed Earlier
In an article about successful people who get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba, said he considers sleeping one of the keys to handling stress and solving problems.
"If I don't sleep well, the problem will still be there," Ma said. "If I sleep, I have a better chance to fight it."
Running on too little sleep negatively impacts how you think, make decisions, and react to issues. Preparing to have a productive day begins the night before when you make the decision to go to bed early. Getting quality sleep is a major boost to being productive the next day. Overcome the urge to stay up late working and instead sleep and have a more productive day the next day.
3. Follow a Morning Routine
A morning routine is essential for a productive day to take shape. Starting the day right can put you in a positive and capable mindset, making the rest of your day better.
Avoid hitting snooze when your alarm goes off in the mornings. Get right up and begin your personal wake-up ritual. This may include:
- Drinking a full glass of water to hydrate the body (lemon water is highly recommended)
- Praying or meditating
- Writing in your daily planner
- Taking a morning walk
Starting your day intentionally is an excellent way to bring peace, control, and balance to your day. This improves focus, leading to a more productive day.
If prioritizing your day's activities wasn't part of your morning routine, it can come right after or whenever is most suitable for you. You may even choose to do it at the end of the previous day when reviewing the day's work and planning for the next.
Prioritizing is such a significant key to having a productive day. It helps you separate the tasks you must do from those that mean very little. Prioritizing also helps you organize your tasks around your time. The most important tasks should be scheduled or put into time blocks first, then the small tasks are fixed around them or after work hours.
Prioritize your daily tasks early to make the most of the rest of the day. Consider your time and energy flow during the day and work around them. If you're typically tired by 2 p.m., you may want to complete the crucial tasks for the day before then. Prioritizing shows you exactly where to start each day, helping you stay on track with your goals.
5. Get Your Heart Rate Up
Exercise can help stimulate cognitive function and boost your mood. It's also necessary to maintain good health and quality of life. A short run or brisk walk can spark a new idea or train of thought. Exercise has been shown to enhance memory and boost neurological function and confidence.
Intersperse your day with bursts of physical activities and stretching. You can do mild exercises in the office or at home without attracting attention. You can also incorporate habits such as walking during phone calls or stretching for a few minutes for every hour spent working at a desk.
6. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but really, it just saves you from spending hours unfocused because you're hungry or thinking of what to eat. Breakfast breaks the overnight fasting period, which helps boost your energy and productivity levels while also providing essential nutrients for good cognitive and physical health.
Eating healthy meals throughout the day helps you focus better and makes you less likely to become tired in the afternoons. Have productivity snacks on hand, like almonds, bananas, and chocolate, to stay satisfied throughout the workday and reward yourself as you make progress.
7. Begin With the Most Important Task
At this point, you've done quite a bit to get into the right mindset for work. You have your prioritized list of tasks for the day, so can start with your most important work.
Starting with the most challenging or important task for the day is a tactic from the Eat That Frog productivity technique. Getting things done first thing in the morning is one of the best ways to have a productive day.
By tackling the big things first, you’ll have a less burdened mind for the rest of the day. And, this structure can help you overcome procrastination and build momentum to keep accomplishing your other tasks.
8. Manage Distractions
In our world today, social media use has become one of the most significant productivity killers. Right from when we wake up in the morning until we go to bed at night, we're often multitasking with social media and other distractions.
Learning to manage distractions is crucial for success. You can leave your phone in a drawer or in “do not disturb” mode to allow yourself to get into a flow state and accomplish deep work without distractions. Train yourself to focus on one thing at a time and go long periods without seeking distractions to get more done in less time.
9. Take Breaks
Taking regular breaks enhances your workplace productivity significantly. Your brain needs time to rest and recharge during the workday to continue functioning at its best. Schedule regular breaks and take some time away from your screens. Using the Pomodoro technique is an excellent way to incorporate breaks naturally into your daily schedule. Taking breaks helps to reduce stress levels and chances of burnout while also making you a lot more productive.
10. Unwind and Reflect
Unwinding at the end of the day is as essential to productivity as work. Give yourself some time each night to reflect on the day, make notes about things you want to handle the next day, and get into a mindset of gratitude and rest before you sleep. During this time, you may note the things that went well and things you can improve. You can also spend time enjoying the present. This is your daily "me" time when you practice your daily shut-down ritual and drift off to sleep in preparation for another productive day.
Use Rize to Track Productive Work Hours
Anyone can learn how to have a productive day if they commit to throwing off bad habits and developing good ones instead. A productive day is different for everyone, but in general, it is one where you create value, maintain good health and be of help to people around you.
You can create more productive days by following an effective daily routine, prioritizing important tasks, managing distractions, and taking regular breaks. You may not be able to find the best routine for a productive day at first. Experiment to see what works for you and track the data to know the best tactics to convert into habits and routines to increase your productivity.
Rize, a smart time-tracking app, helps track your work hours so you know when you're most productive and can maximize your day. With real-time data and weekly reports showing how you spend your workdays, you can adjust and improve your daily schedules to create the most productive workdays and achieve your goals.
Are you ready to become more intentional and productive at work? Download Rize to get started with a free trial.