We’re all given the same 24 hours in a day. And while there’s some variance in how many waking hours each person has, the average person spends between 16 and 19 hours out of bed each weekday. So how is it that some people get so much more done during this window of time?
It all comes down to time management. If you study the behaviors of highly productive people – from entrepreneurs and CEOs to full-time students and stay-at-home parents – you’ll discover that they do things a little differently than the average person.
In particular, they’ve honed habits like these:
- Wake Up First
To maximize productivity, wake up before everyone else. For non-morning-people, this may sound like an awful idea, but it works. (If you need some extra motivation, give yourself something to look forward to – such as your favorite coffee, a donut, or a few minutes spent doing something you love.)
When you wake up first, you don’t have to deal with the distractions that come when other people get out of bed. Instead, you can enjoy the peaceful serenity of a quiet house and knock a few important tasks off your to-do list.
- Perform Most Important Tasks First
If you have a list of 10 things that you need to get done on any given day, there are probably only two or three that are super important. The rest have value, but they aren’t going to make or break you.
Because of the tendency you have to get distracted and forget about responsibilities, start your day by performing the most important tasks first. Not only will this increase your chances of actually getting them done, but it takes a huge weight off your shoulders.
- Block Out Tech Distractions
Technology can aid or hinder productivity. Unfortunately, it often does the latter.
“In a world where almost everyone has a smart phone, it’s easy to get sucked into checking your messages or emails when you’re supposed to be doing something else. Email can be a big time suck, particularly if you’re checking it throughout the day,” explains Green Residential, a Houston-based property management firm.
In an effort to block out unwanted distractions, unplug from technology as much as possible. Silence your phone and mute notifications for chunks of time where you know you’ll be doing something important. You can then spend a few minutes checking and responding to anything you might have missed before moving onto the next task.
- Eat Healthy
“The World Health Organization has estimated that eating the right ingredients can boost our brain power by up to 20%. That’s why regular, healthy eating is one of the crucial habits of productive people,” marketing professional Caitlin Sisley writes. “Choose your nutrients wisely, incorporating superfoods and avoiding sugary snacks that make you crash. Don’t skip meals, no matter how busy you are – it will make you fatigued, foggy minded and irritable.”
As your mother told you countless times as a child, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and will sustain your focus and productivity in the crucial morning hours when your brain is the freshest it’ll be all day. But don’t discount the need for a healthy lunch. Without the right midday meal, you’ll tend to crash in the middle of the afternoon.
- Say No
Highly productive people know how to say no to the things that don’t fall within their realm of responsibility. In doing so, they free up their schedule to contribute energy to the things that do matter.
- Create a Plan the Night Before
Each night before going to bed, create a quick plan for the following day. It doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute breakdown, but it should contain some bullet points, goals, and reminders so that you can hit the ground running as soon as you wake up.
Take Control Of Your Life
While there will always be issues and challenges in life that we can’t control, you have more influence over your day-to-day responsibilities than you realize. Instead of complaining and sulking about how you can’t ever seem to get anything done, take the time to create a plan and attack each day with intensity. If you do this on a regular basis, you’ll see extremely positive changes in your career, health, relationships, and finances.