This Sunday, Nov. 6, clocks turn back one hour at 2 a.m. That used to mean an extra hour of clubbing or partying... but then real life goals kicked in and I realized I was better served if I could find a way to make whatever extra time I could get my hands on more productive. When focusing on the goals we have to accomplish, the “new hour” that we get each fall then becomes a fun new opportunity, a delightful treat, a reason to stop making excuses. So what are you going to do with your extra hour this weekend?
Use this hour to wake up earlier than you usually do and tackle the least appetizing task you can think of. Get it out of the way and on with your day. Or sleep in. Indulge yourself in the extra hour of sleep you never get. Make a plan in advance and decide which one will have a more positive impact on your day.
Still, that one magical hour is only a start. With a renewed focus on productivity, start to plan the new healthy habits you will create to make all the hours you have more productive. Create habits that will benefit you way beyond this Sunday.
Make a to-do list. There is nothing more satisfying than checking off what you’ve accomplished.
Try “eating your veggies” first. In a time management workshop with the Day One Group, Donald Benenson proposed we are more effective when we get the least desirable tasks off our “plate” first. When the veggies are on your plate and you know you have to eat them but don’t want to, you can give yourself unnecessary anxiety and stress just from avoiding them. What better way to fuel procrastination then stressing about that hard thing you have to but don’t want to do? Don’t! Get the hard to-dos off of your list first so you can clear your mind for dessert/the things that get you excited.
Redefine how you work in intervals. Are there small tasks that you can get done when you have shorter breaks in your day? Think hard about which tasks you can work on in 20- to 30-minute spurts. That way when someone “throws 30 minutes back on your calendar” by canceling a meeting at the last minute, you already know what to do with that time.
Know thyself. When do you work best? Are you a morning person? Do you enjoy getting up at the crack of dawn and having most of your days chores done before everyone is awake? Or are the evenings, when the office clears out, your time to grind it out? Figure out what works for you and make a plan to maximize the time where you’re feeling the most productive and enthusiastic.
Take breaks. Creating a moment to relax may seem counterintuitive; however, giving yourself time to breathe and decompress can help you focus better when you sit back down and also give you a moment to come back to a task with fresh eyes. It’s also a way to treat yourself for what you’ve accomplished so far.
Don’t multitask. Focus on one task at a time. Sometimes multitasking works but if you have a long to-do list train all your focus into one task at a time. You won’t make as many mistakes and you’ll get done quicker as well.
Time yourself. Giving yourself a set time to complete a goal will stop you from falling off task and is a way to hold yourself accountable.
Eat! Food is important and can supply you with a great source of energy that coffee can’t. Plan your meal breaks in advance and whip up something healthy and filling.
Turn off social media and any other sneaky distractions. I’ve started off with good intentions only wanting to spend a few minutes answering emails, only to later realize I’ve spent an hour replying to things that weren’t high priority. The Self-Control App allows you to block distracting websites for an allotted amount of time that you designate, it won’t let you use the website until the clock runs out so even if you turn-off your computer or restart it, that site is still blocked. It’s a lifesaver. You can download it here. “Do Not Disturb” on your iPhone is also a game-changer.
Keep a notepad and pen around you. Ideas and tasks come up at any time, always having a pen and paper around is a surefire way to remember tasks and ideas and not hate yourself later. Writing down your thoughts is also a great way to de-stress at a moment’s notice.
Don’t wait for the next new year to “resolve” to do better. Make the most of your time now.