Have you ever stopped to analyze the things you do every day, and why you do them? Most of these things – the ones we repeat over and over each day- are what we call our daily habits. But do these daily habits make you productive, or are they holding you back? In this post, I share the daily tasks that increase my productivity, why I do them, and the rules’ exceptions.
There are certain things I like to do every day that I like to call my non-negotiable things. These are daily habits that are an important part of my day, and without them, I feel as if something is missing. They are part of a bigger picture that shapes my day and my life in general.
Here are 10 daily habits that can improve your productivity.
1. Start with Self-Care
When you start the day with self-care, you set your (good) mood. You are doing something for yourself, and it’s not selfish; it’s necessary. One of the things I do every day, first thing in the morning, and it is absolutely non-negotiable, is taking a shower first in the morning before I even have coffee. And that says a lot because I love coffee more than anything. 🙂
Doing something for yourself first thing in the morning sets you up for a productive day. For some, it’s exercising; for others is prayer or meditation. For me, it’s a nice, refreshing shower, followed by a hot cup of coffee.
- Why? It’s a daily habit that I have since childhood, and it’s definitely the catalyst to a productive day. A nice shower in the morning means getting changed into clean clothes, which means being ready for the day. Whatever the day wants to throw at me.
Whether I have it all planned (with appointments, errands, or virtual meetings) or not, I like to be presentable and ready. When I am showered and dressed (yoga pants or not), I feel refreshed and alert. It’s a daily habit that sets my day on the right track to be productive at home and work.
If I have a long day with a lot of exertion (long errands in public places, workout, or dirty jobs like sanding, painting, gardening), I take another shower right before bed.
- The exception. Weekends, holidays, or vacations. The only days when I break the habit, it’s when there are changes in the cue. Usually, when my husband is home from work, or there’s no school (virtual or brick and mortar), we like to have coffee in our pajamas and watch TV.
2. Accomplish One Small Task to Feel Productive
Pick a task, any task. Something that you can do every day from start to finish. There’s nothing like the feeling of satisfaction after accomplishing your duty. Whatever that duty is, get it done. Nail one daily habit that can make you feel productive and motivated throughout the day.
My daily habit is making my bed. And if I am feeling generous, I will make my 10-year-old son’s bed.
- Why? It’s a simple task that gives me a great feeling of satisfaction when it’s done. I love seeing my bed made, my bedroom picked up and organized. It takes me only 5 minutes to complete (talk about feeling productive at least once a day!), making a big impact on my day. Every time I walk into my room and I see a well-made bed, I smile.
- The Exception: Lazy Sundays when we wake up late and hang out for hours in our pajamas. If it’s past noon, I just fluff the pillows and pull the covers. I do not go all the way out.
Here’s some food for thought:
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed… If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed, will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.William Harry McRaven
Or if you want to get ‘the chills’, watch this.
3. Get Your Ducks in a Row
Nothing makes me feel more productive than the daily habit of getting my thoughts together. In other words, I like to ‘get my ducks in a row’ before I start tackling the day. You see, some people tend to work on whatever the day (or other people) demands from them. It’s what I like to call putting out fires, and doing favors.
And don’t get me wrong, I am at your service when you need me. But I like to plan my days to accomplish my goals. I am a big believer in writing things down to make them feel real, and somehow, it forces me to stick to my plan. And I don’t let anyone or anything determine what I am going to do with my time.
- Why? Planning makes you productive. Get in the daily habit of organizing your thoughts, whether on paper or a digital agenda (I prefer paper), and you will boost your productivity. When you don’t have a plan, you spend the day on random acts of trivia. I use a daily planner, and in it, I keep track of my goals, schedule and even write down random thoughts each morning. Even if I don’t follow my schedule down to a T, I feel productive because I’m putting my priorities front and center as a reminder of what matters and what doesn’t.
- The Exception: weekends and vacation time. I don’t look at my planner; I enjoy my day off.
4. Get a Head Start on something
I feel most productive on those days when I get a head start on something due soon or happening later. If you can do one little task that can make things easier or run smoother later, go for it.
The non-negotiable daily habit that helps me get a head start is setting the dinner table anytime between 10 am and 2 pm. Around that time window, I am usually making myself a second cup of coffee or cleaning up after lunch. My habit is to unload the dishwasher, and while I am it, I set the dinner table. So, instead of putting all the clean dishes away, I set the table: two birds, one stone.
- Why? I am never idle. While the coffee is brewing, I can unload the dishwasher, and if I am going to walk three steps towards the kitchen cabinet, I can walk five towards the table. It all happens fast and automatically.
- The exception: weekends, of course. My entire routine is different during the weekends.
5. Reward Yourself
You have been working hard through the day; you need a reward. Rewards are motivational, and the right reward at the right time can increase your productivity. The expectation of a ‘treat’ gets me fired up.
My daily habit of a 5 o’clock treat keeps me motivated and productive. Whenever I am working on a project, whether in front of the computer, behind the camera, or in the garage painting something, I always look forward to my coffee break.
And my cookie, or cake, or a stroopwafel.
- Why? Because why not? And, we are talking coffee. When I think about the warm feeling of a coffee cup and the sweetness of a treat, I push a little harder to finish one more paragraph, one more coat of paint, one final picture…and then, I can go and have my coffee.
- The Exception: none. I always treat and reward myself with a warm cup of coffee.
6. Strive for Organization and Cleanliness
Want to boost your productivity even more? Strive for organization and cleanliness. Get into the daily habit of keeping your home and work areas tidy. A tidy space is less distracting, and when you reduce distractions, you can focus and be more productive.
For example, each night, I end the day cleaning all the kitchen counters and scrubbing the sink. It’s a habit that brings me joy.
- Why? Because when I come downstairs every morning to prepare my longed-for cup of coffee, I love to see a clean -and empty – sink as well as clean and sparkling counters. It helps set my mood for the day.
- The Exception: no exceptions. Even when we entertain and guests leave the house late at night, I do not go to bed without cleaning the kitchen.
7. Schedule ‘Me Time’
This daily habit goes without saying. It’s probably listed in every list of productivity habits.
Schedule or plan on ‘me time’ to recharge your batteries and continue being productive. Whatever the idea of ‘me time’ is for you, plan on it. At whatever time is convenient for you.
My idea of ‘me time’ goes like this: get into my pajamas, wash my face, apply face, neck, and hand moisturizer, watch at least 1 hour of Netflix. Alone. Perfect! Enough to feel like I did something for myself and freed my mind of all the crazy work and home-related thoughts.
- Why? You can’t pour from an empty vessel. You are the vessel, and you are pouring yourself into others every day. You need to refill and recharge.
- The Exception: nope. Maybe when we are on vacation, and we are all couped up in a hotel room.
8. Save Some Time for Reflection
Nothing leaves me more inspired than some reflection time. If you want to see a change in your productivity, start this daily habit. There’s something ‘magical’ -for lack of a better word- about prayer, meditation, and reflection in general.
- Why? Because prayer and meditation bring peace to my soul. And when it’s hard to fall asleep, Tamara Levitt (from Calm) has the magic wand that puts anyone to sleep. Try it!
- The Exception: there are many nights that I am exhausted, and I just fall asleep.
9. Get Up and Stretch
It only takes 5 minutes to practice a few stretching exercises that will make you feel like new. Less than 2 years ago, I started practicing PiYo. Although I am not too good at following workout routines, I know all the Yoga poses and Pilates moves by heart. So, whenever I feel tense or have muscle pain, I stretch my body.
- Why? Stretching requires focusing and breathing. When you breathe intentionally and set some time to ‘air out’ your brain, you recharge your mind, and a recharged mind translates into a clear and productive mind.
- The Exception: I stretch at least 4 times a week, but when I am not feeling physically strained, I forget that -regardless of how I feel, I need some muscle stretching.
10. Get a Dose of Laughter
Finally, every day, aim for at least one dose of laughter. Relieve your brain of all the bad and the ugly that the day brought you. Make it a habit to laugh a little. Use social media to find funny videos, memes, or funny quotes.
I love to watch @chalenejohnson reels like this on Instagram. My son and I have a blast watching funny cat videos on @catloversclub
- Why? Because who doesn’t like a good laugh? Relieve some stress and get happy!
- The Exception: no exceptions, I love love love watching and sharing funny stuff on Instagram stories