I’m all about being productive and getting things done, but I also want to make sure that I feel joyful an happy while getting things done! After a decade of trial-and-error, I was able to narrow down some of the most impactful habits that help increase my productivity & happiness.
Make your bed first thing in the morning, ask yourself ‘who needs my A-game?’, take five conscious breaths, make someone smile, and use a timer when getting things done.
Read below to go find out about my 5 tips for productivity.
“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, mote motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.”Shawn Achor
1. Make your bed first thing in the morning
I know, I know… what a shocking tip. Whether it’s your mom, a partner, or a motivational video — at one point or another, someone told you: ‘Make your bed!’
My mom used to tell me all the time to make my bed, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York City and started living by myself that I actually started doing it. I don’t want to sound crazy when I say this, but this changed everything.
This small adjustment (& now habit) to my every day served as a catalyst for me being more productive, disciplined, and motivated. Admiral William McRaven says:
“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,”
Yup, it’s true. Something as simple as making your bed can set you up for success and make you want to be more productive and driven.
P.s. If this doesn’t increase your productivity and make you feel accomplished, at least you’ll have a lovely, made bed.😋
2. Who needs my A-game?
When I read Brendon Burchard’s book ‘High-performance habits,’ I was blown away. One of the things that stood out to me most was an exercise that Brendon does throughout the day. Whether it’s having this phrase on a post-it near his computer, or simply taking the time to stop and ask himself this question — he continually asks himself why he’s doing what he’s doing.
Whether it’s a goal you want to accomplish or a particular yearly milestone your company wants you to reach — ask: who needs your A-game? Who is relying on you to reach your full potential? Whom do you want to make proud?
When we connect our goal to something outside of ourselves, we feel more accountable.
If you reach a particular milestone at work, perhaps you will be able to treat your family on vacation or pay for your son’s college without worry. Maybe you need to get focused and finish writing your book because your family wants to see you excited and proud of what you’ve achieved.
It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus nowadays. However, when you get to work, when you sit down to write that novel, when you go for that run, ask yourself: Who needs my A-game? Who is counting on me to do this? Who needs me to be focused?
3. Five conscious breaths
Did you know that animals like elephants and alligators live so long because they breathe slow? An elephant, on average, takes only 4-5 breaths per minute, whereas a human takes around 12-20 breaths per minute. It’s not about the quantity of the breaths (little vs. a lot), but the speed and quality.
Quick, rapid breaths are shallow and don’t fully oxygenate our system. When we slow down and take longer breaths, it’s the quality and depth that makes all the difference. Our body is happy! Yay to all this oxygen!
Set a reminder on your phone that will go off 3 or 4 times throughout the day. Every time the reminder goes off, close your eyes and take five deep, conscious breaths. Focus on your tummy and lungs expanding when you breathe in, and contracting when you breathe out.
Remember to be grateful for this life.
Our body loves us so much; we don’t even have to think about breathing — we just do it. We’re only alive because of our breath, so take the time during the day to connect to your breath and focus on yourself. More importantly, take the time to feel grateful.
You’re alive. You’re breathing. That’s a gift.
4. mAKE SOMEONE SMILE
We’re so busy with our own lives that we often forget how much of a difference we could make in someone else’s life. Just one phone call, text, email, or coffee date could boost your, and a loved one’s day.
What I often like to do is send my mom a funny e-card when she’s at work. She never expects it, and it always makes her smile and laugh. It’s also very meaningful for us both because I used to send her these silly e-cards when I was 8 or 9 years old, so it always brings back memories. (I use www.123greeting.com, by the way. Such an old but funny website.)
Whether it’s sending your partner an ‘I love you & can’t wait to see you’ text, setting up a coffee date with a friend or calling a family member for a few minutes, let someone know that you’re thinking of them and that you want them to know they’re important.
Little things like these can make such a big difference not only in someone else’s day but yours too.
By making someone else happy you’ll also make yourself happy — and thus your day, week, and even month will be more fulfilling and joyful.
5. Use a timer when doing work
When I was still living in New York City and working as a video editor, I would have trouble focusing and would get distracted all the time. It wasn’t until I found out about this app ‘forest’ that my productivity game CHANGED. (p.s. you don’t have to use this app — any timer will work — but I’m just sharing my experience!)
You set a timer for 15, 30, or 45 minutes, and during that time, you ONLY focus on one specific task that you need to do. The goal is that you get laser-focused and stop procrastinating on whatever it is you need to do. The craziest thing is that you get things done much quicker because you actually use your time wisely and with intention — rather than constantly getting distracted. After all, a few minutes here and there add up.
I was blown away by how much I get done when I chunk my time into 15, 30, 45 or 60-minute chunks (depending on what it is I need to do.) After the timer goes off, I will give myself a 5 or 10 minute break, make some coffee, stretch, and then set another timer for another task.
Spoiler alert: You get hooked on being productive.
P.s. With the forest app, when you set a timer for a specific amount of time — it doesn’t allow you to use your phone. During the time that the timer is running, you are planting a tree in your personal ‘forest.’ Hence, the more productive you are — the more trees you have in your forest. It gets really addicting and does wonders if you’re the type to get distracted by social media apps.
Try these 5 tips for productivity
Try it out for yourself! You don’t have to try and do all of them at once; whether it’s taking the time to take five conscious breaths during the day or simply making your bed — you will feel the difference.