Aristotle said it beautifully, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” And if you want to achieve great success and produce amazing results in life, start by managing your days, not your weeks or months or years. And learning how to have a productive day, every day, is the key to living and creating the successful life that you desire.
If you want to change your life, start by changing your daily routine. Without changing what you do daily, you will pretty much live the same way you do right now.
I believe that successful people are successful not because of their talents or skills or knowledge, but it is their persistence in what they do daily that make them successful.
Yes, talent, skills, and knowledge do help, but without the persistence, it will be impossible to produce the outstanding success that most can only crave.
Successful people do what they have to do whether they feel like it or not.
On the other hand, unsuccessful people choose to procrastinate, delay, or do something that is more convenient when they don’t feel like taking action.
This is why having a productive day is important. You need to “engineered” a system or a habit so that you will work and take action regardless of whether you feel like it or not.
And that’s exactly the purpose of this article. You are going to discover the 30 useful and applicable tips on how you can have a productive day, each day.
Remember, success does not come easily and it takes time. Hence, the key is to maintain your energy, productivity, and level of motivation every day, if you want to produce outstanding results in life.
1. Start early
Notice that I said start early, not wake up early. This is because I believe that not everyone is a morning person. Some people work best in the morning while some people work best in the evening.
Plus, our most productive hours can switch. For instance, when you are in your twenties, you’re probably an evening person. You can stay up late and still feel fully alert and have a lot of energy.
But if you are at your thirties or forties when you have your own family, highly likely, you will become a morning person because you need to take care of your kids and send them to school.
Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, it can change according to your seasons and circumstances.
Regardless, choose to start early. No matter whether you wake up early or you wake up at normal hours, choose to do your work as soon as you start your day.
The faster you can start on your most productive tasks, the earlier you can get more things done.
2. Drink some lemon water as you wake up
Do you know that drinking lemon water the first thing in the morning improves your nutrient absorption in your stomach? Drink the lemon water with an empty stomach for best effect.
If you are doubtful about this, just read this article from Reader’s Digest. The article explains that drinking lemon water the first thing in the morning has plenty of benefits, including:
- Helps you lose weight
- Improves your immunity with vitamin C
- Aids digestion
- May make you look younger
- Prevents kidney stones
- It also keeps you hydrate
Indirectly, drinking lemon water in the morning makes your day more productive. How? Because it gives you a healthier body and makes you more awake.
When you are fully awake and you feel energetic, you can do more and accomplish more.
Thus, make it a habit to drink lemon water in the morning, with an empty stomach. Do it for a month and see how this makes you feel. I’ve been doing it for months, and I’ll continue to do it.
3. Exercise and move your body
Do you know that most highly successful people exercise in the morning before they start their day?
Read the book by Laura Vanderkam, where she studied what the most successful people do before breakfast and discovered that most of them spend some time to exercise and move their bodies.
I bet you understand the importance of exercise and working out, but the problem is that it is not an exciting idea to most people, let alone that they have to wake up a little early to do this.
Well, you don’t really have to lift weights or go for a jog if you don’t like it. By simply moving around and do some simple stretching will help your blood flow and kick-start your day.
Here are some examples of what highly successful people do to exercise according to this article from Trello:
- Kevin Kruse does a daily 20-minute HIIT session on the treadmill.
- Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square, jogs every morning.
- Howard Schulz, CEO of Starbucks, bikes first thing.
- Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi power walks before she sits down to work.
- Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk works out with his personal trainer.
- Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary gets on his elliptical or exercise bike.
- Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paaschen runs 10 miles each morning!
So, are you going to start your exercise session tomorrow?
4. Repeat your affirmations
Affirmation is one of the most powerful techniques that can boost your mood and put you in the right state of mind to jumpstart your day.
An affirmation can work because when you stated something to yourself and you believe in it, you subconsciously program the idea into your mind.
Your mind can’t tell if it is real or a fantasy. Like if you are watching a horror movie, you feel eerie and scared, although you know that it is just a movie and it is not real, your mind makes you believe it is real.
I bet you can clearly remember being told by someone, be it your parent, friend, or your teacher, that you don’t have the potential or talent to do something. These statements may not be true, but unconsciously, we make them true.
This is why Jim Rohn said:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Thus, start your day with affirmations. Create affirmations that motivate and inspire you. More importantly, repeat your affirmations with power and feel the emotions.
The key to having a productive day is to start your day strong with a positive state of mind. And affirmation can certainly help you achieve this.
5. Visualize the success you want
Can visualization make you more productive? Depending on what you are trying to visualize, the answer is a definite yes.
Try to imagine you are living the successful life that you want. How does that make you feel? Imaging going through a perfect and productive day, how does your mood change?
Visualization is powerful. It works like how affirmations work.
There was a study on visualization done on a group of basketball players. Those who practice through visualization had almost similar increased in their shooting skills with those who actually go through the physical training.
The crazy thing is that the basketball players who go through visualization didn’t even touch the ball! You can read the full study in this article.
Therefore, if you want to have a productive day, just visualize the success you want. Imagine that you are already living the ideal lifestyle that you desire.
This will spark your motivation and jumpstart your work. Whenever you feel down or feeling sleepy or have no motivation to work, just visualize the success you want.
6. Get a healthy breakfast
Before you start your day, make sure you don’t start with an empty stomach. Get some healthy breakfast, my friend.
It’s like driving. Make sure you fill your gas before you start your journey.
This is what an article from Entrepreneur.com said:
“Eating anything at all for breakfast puts you ahead of a lot of people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, they have more stable blood-sugar levels, and they tend to be less hungry over the course of the day.”
Not just that, the author also wrote:
“When you eat a healthy breakfast, the doors to a productive day swing wide open. A healthy breakfast gives you energy, improves your short-term memory, and helps you to concentrate more intensely and for longer periods.”
So don’t skip breakfast. Instead, make your time for a real, healthy breakfast. Healthy breakfast will serve as the foundation of your productive day.
7. Start with the right mood
If you want to make your day productive, you must make sure that you take care of your mood.
Imagine you start your day with a bad mood, do you think you can be productive the entire day? No, your thoughts will be distracted. It is difficult to let go of a negative thought.
Thus, the best solution is to avoid negative thoughts or bad mood from affecting you.
If you quarrel with your wife early in the morning before you go to work, the anger feeling or the regret that you have done something stupid will haunt you the whole day.
This distracts you and takes your power to focus away.
This also explains why affirmation and visualization are important. They put you in the right frame of mind before you start your day.
And when you are in the right mood and you feel good, you are able to get more done. Do you get it?
8. Focus on doing the most result-yielding tasks first
First thing first, find out what is the most important task that will get you the most result. The Pareto Principle is at play here.
When you first started a blog, your key task is to focus on creating valuable content, not on designing a beautiful logo or finding the best blog’s theme.
Most people focus on doing the wrong things. If you are in sales, your number one priority is to generate sales or leads, which means that your most important work is prospecting.
In the blogging world, your number one job is to create valuable content, be it to be published on your own blog or on other people’s blog.
I have seen a lot of people waste their energy and time on social media, trying to build an online presence, and they spend too much time on learning materials.
As a result, they don’t take much action on things that truly matter.
Thus, apply the Pareto’s 80/20 Rule to what you do daily.
Do you want to be productive? You must do the things that will give you the most result, not just anything.
Not all works are created equally, my friend. Being busy doesn’t mean that you are effective.
To get the most and best result, you must do the right work.
9. Time-block and schedule your priorities
The late Stephen Covey said it wisely:
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
This means that you have to first identify your priorities, and then organize your schedule and your life around them.
Most people get it wrong and they do it the other way round. This is because things that are important usually are not urgent. They can wait.
On the other hand, things that are urgent are usually not important, but most people will focus on doing the urgent than the important.
From the previous tip, you have already identified the important works that give you the most result, and the next step you need to take is to schedule the work.
Learn to use the time-blocking technique. When you schedule and time-block a certain task, that means you will do the work no matter what. All other things will have to give way.
This is the power of time-blocking. You can learn more about this technique in the best-selling book, The One Thing.
10. Plan your breaks and time off too
And when it comes to scheduling, don’t forget to schedule your breaks and time off too. A lot of people say that they are too busy for time off, but what they don’t realize is that time off actually makes them more productive.
A professor from the University of Mannheim in Germany, Sabine Sonnentag, found in her research:
“… that the inability to detach from work comes with symptoms of burnout, which of course impact well-being and productivity.”
She also says that when you are not at work and you are able to disengage yourself from work, it makes you more resilient in the face of stress and more productive. Read this article from GreaterGood.com to understand more.
In other words, you must make time to disengage from work. Time off recharges your energy, willpower, attention, and also creativity.
Hence, schedule your time off. All work without play makes Jack a dull boy.
11. Make use of a to-do list
Having a to-do list is one of the most powerful ways to have a productive day.
Richard Branson said it in his blog that he credited most of his success to having a to-do list.
The billionaire even published one of his to-do lists in 1972 on his blog, check it out here.
This is what Branson said on his blog:
“I’ve often written about my love of writing lists – and this one shows I’ve been at it since the very beginning. Lists not only provide a great structure for getting things done, but they also help us to set goals and achieve our dreams.”
I have personally experienced it myself. When I don’t have a list of things to do, I feel lost and sleepy because I don’t know what to do.
I become reactive and do things according to what comes to me rather than being proactive and make things happen.
This is why I often write down all the tasks that I need to do. Even though some tasks are repeated every day, I still choose to write them down.
The moment I put down my tasks into paper, I know that I will schedule my time to get them done.
This, my friend, is one of the biggest secrets about how productive people stay productive.
12. Identify your goals for the day
According to this article from Trello:
Kevin Kruse, the author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, starts his morning with five minutes of yoga stretches while doing the following:
- Mentally recitation of his personal mission statement
- Listing three items of gratitude
- Reminder of his three big goal areas (Health, Wealth, and Love)
For each of these goals, Kevin also things of what tasks he’ll do that specific day to get closer to achieving them. “All that takes about five minutes,” he says.
Kruse reviewed his goals each day before he starts his work. You have to do the same.
Know what you need to get done each day is the greatest way to be productive and get the right things done.
Without knowing what you need to accomplish for the day, how do you think you will spend your day?
So know your daily goals and understand what you need to accomplish each day.
13. Apply the Big-Five technique
Each day, ask yourself this question:
“What are the 5 small things that I can do today to get closer to my goals?”
And then get busy doing the work. The Big-Five technique will ensure that you are making progress to reach your goals each day.
The key is to make progress each day, regardless of whether they are big action steps or the small ones. The important thing is that you keep moving and keep making progress.
I know that this sounds easier than you thought, but when it comes to actually implementing this technique, it not as simple as you thought.
So take my challenge. Write down 5 things that you need to do to get closer to your goals, and then commit to complete those 5 tasks, every day.
Let me know your results by sharing your experience in the comment below. I’d like to hear from you.
14. Outsource tasks that you are not good at
If you want to be productive, one thing you can do is to outsource the things that you are not good at.
For example, if you are a blogger and you are good with writing great content that your audience love, then makes it your number one priority to write. And if you are no good with social media marketing, just outsource the task and let others who can do better than you to handle it.
This is how successful people become better. When Steve Jobs started Apple with Steve Wozniak, it was Woz that did most of the coding and programming.
If you are trying to do everything by yourself, whether you think that others can’t be trusted or you are the only one that can deliver the perfect job, there is no way you can grow your business.
You need to have a team to grow and make it big. Can you imagine running a one-man business? It is going to be tiring and boring.
Therefore, outsource the work that you are not good at and so that you can focus on doing the work that you can be the best in.
15. Remember to batch similar tasks together
Another great tip when it comes to living a productive day is to batch your work.
For instance, when I generate content ideas for this blog, I will try my best to come up with as many article ideas as possible. Usually, I will create enough article ideas for the entire month.
I don’t come up with an article idea, write the article, and then search for other article ideas again. I do the tasks in batches.
You check and reply all your emails at the same session. When you are writing content for your blog, that’s what you do. You don’t write articles and then stop half way to check your email.
Do things in similar batches can greatly improve your productivity because it removes the mental friction where you need to switch from one task to another totally different task.
If you want to learn more about batching your tasks, read this article from Michael Hyatt:
16. Get rid of all distractions when you work
How can you be productive if you are constantly distracted? So build a bunker or create a distraction-free environment so that you can work with 100% focus.
Either switch off your phone or turn it to silent mode whenever you are working, especially on your most important task.
I love to work in coffee houses and local cafes near my area. I feel more accountable because I feel that people are “watching” me work.
However, I hate it sometimes when the place becomes too crowded and noisy. I can’t focus when that is the case.
This is why creating a positive work environment is important. It gives you better focus and allows you to get more things done.
You need to build a place that can help you reach your goals, not against it. So create a bunker that shelters you from all distractions.
17. Turn your commute time into productive hours
Another great tip to save time and make your day more productive is to make full use of your commute time.
You can either listen to audio books or any learning program while you are driving or if you are waiting for the sub or MRT, use those minutes to complete easy tasks like reading and reply emails.
Do not underestimate the time you have while commuting.
They may seem like a short few minutes here and there, but if you use it wisely, it can turn out to be a lot of valuable time over the course of months and years.
Here’s an interesting article you should read about how successful people spend their time commuting:
18. Work according to your productive workflow
So when do you feel the most productive? Is it the morning or the afternoon? Or maybe in the evening?
When you are feeling motivated and during your most productive hours, do more. Ride the wave.
Sometimes when you are not feeling motivated, it is extremely difficult to fire up your engine. Thus, whenever you are feeling motivated and you can take on more, do that.
It’s like riding the wave of motivation and productivity. You work more when the wave comes.
This is why sometimes you don’t really have to stick to waking up at 5AM and work extra, but because what you need to do, really, is to work according to your own body clock and workflow.
Not everyone is a morning person and not everyone can wake up at 5AM and be productive.
Of course, the only way to find out is to test it out.
So work with your own productive workflow, not others.
19. Try to focus on doing one thing at a time
Focus is key to getting productive. If you want to do a better quality job, focus. Do just one thing at a time, especially if the task requires a lot of creativity and attention.
You can’t write and talk at the same time. Try to do that and you will notice that your brain is actually switching from one task to another, not doing both simultaneously.
Do not multitask because it reduces your efficiency. Our brain can only focus on one thing at a time.
When you are trying to do 2 things at the same time, what really happens is that your brain jumps from one task to another, back and forth. This ultimately lowers your performance and make you less likely to experience the “flow”.
This article from Time.com says:
“We are wired to be mono-taskers. One study found that just 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively. And when the rest of us attempt to do two complex activities simultaneously, it is simply an illusion.”
So try not to multitask. Choose to focus and do only one thing at a time. This way, it is easier for your brain to experience the flow and get into the “trance” zone.
If you want to learn more about how to get into deep work and stay focused in a distracted world, read this book from Cal Newport, Deep Work.
20. Use music and songs to boost your energy
While it is true that you should focus on doing one thing at a time, should you listen to songs or music while working?
Well, the answer is that it depends. It depends on what type of music or songs you are listening and it also depends on what type of work you are doing.
In my own experience, whenever I’m writing content, I can’t listen to songs with lyrics because my mind will want to focus on the lyrics and sing along.
But I do listen to music, without anyone singing. And I found that listening to music improves my productivity while writing.
On the other hand, when I’m doing less creative work that does not require much of my attention, I prefer to listen to songs, with lyrics.
Therefore, it all depends on what work you involved in and what kind of songs or music you are listening to.
Read this article from FastCompany.com to understand better:
21. Drink a cup of coffee if need to
Is it true that drinking coffee can make you more alert, and hence, become more productive? Or the opposite is true?
There is a great article covers this topic on Entrepreneur.com:
To save your time, here is the conclusion of the article:
“So, does caffeine help or hurt you? For the most part, it’s clear that caffeine will improve your productivity. It’s ideal for boosting cognitive function, lightening your mood and improving your health; and it can help you feel less tired on those long work days.”
Seems like coffee is helpful in making our days more productive.
Of course, I don’t suggest you drink too much caffeinated drinks. Too much of anything can be bad. Moderation is key.
Hence, drink a cup of coffee when you feel like your motivation has taken a dive.
22. Sleep early to fully recharge your energy
A lot of people read that successful people wake up early and they were even suggested to join the 5AM club.
While I have nothing against getting up early because I wake up at 6AM each day, which is considered kind of early because I work from home and I don’t have to go to the office.
What I want to say is that if you want to get up early, please make sure you sleep early.
Many people choose to wake up early, yet they sleep late. And this can be a serious issue for their health and wellbeing.
Lack of sleep is a big health issue in today’s world. People are busy working and they sacrifice their sleep time for it.
If you suffer sleep deprivation, you should seriously rearrange your life and change the way you live.
According to an article from Sleep.org, the article states that sleep can help you become more productive at work.
Without enough sleep, it is difficult for you to stay focus and allow your creative juice flowing. You need to have enough sleep to perform at your peak.
A Harvard report also showed that lack of sleep can cause many problems, including the reduction in productivity, more errors, and accidents.
So make sure you have enough sleep.
Don’t sacrifice your sleep time and think that you can be more productive because you have more time to do the work. That’s counterproductive, my friend.
23. Drink more water and hydrate your body throughout the day
If you want to have a productive day, it is important to make sure that you feel great all the time. When you feel good, you can perform better and accomplish much more.
So keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
Studies have shown that when you are dehydrated, you can feel sluggish easily, have a difficult time to concentrate and feel fatigue faster.
Drink more water, my friend.
24. Avoid the peak-hour rush if possible
Try to avoid the peak-hour rush whenever possible. If you don’t have to drive during peak hours, then don’t.
If you want to go to the laundry or the grocery, try to avoid peak hours.
When you have to rush in and fight over car park spaces, it won’t make you feel good. The negative energy field can quickly consume you and make you tired and sleepy.
If you don’t believe this, try to go to the shopping mall during peak hours when there are a lot of people. After you get back home, notice your energy level and see if you feel tired.
I talked about this with my wife and she agreed with me.
So to have a productive day, avoid the peak-hour rush. Maintain and use your energy elsewhere.
25. Follow a productive routine
To save your willpower and energy, build routines and adapt to them.
Some people call this ritual. You can create many types of rituals like a morning ritual where you do the same thing every morning before you go to work.
Or you can also come up with a blogging routine such as you will enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to a certain music as you write a blog post, each day.
Make it a routine so that you don’t have to waste time and energy to decide what to do. Furthermore, when something becomes a habit, you need less motivation to execute it.
Here are 2 additional articles to feed your appetite on this subject:
- 7 Best Morning Routine to Kick-Start A Great Day
- The 7 Best Evening Rituals for Success You Should Consider
26. Build a positive and organized work environment
Building a positive and organized work environment is extremely helpful to become productive. Like I said earlier, you want to build an environment that helps you, not against you.
Many people underestimate how their environment affects them. Whenever they are not getting things done, they thought that they need to increase their motivation.
In fact, the environment or your surrounding play a big role in determining your success.
Here is a superb article from my favorite blogger, James Clear, and I strongly suggest you read it:
James explains how our environment plays an important role in affecting our success in life.
And thus, if you want to make your days more productive, you must leverage and create a helpful surrounding that can positively affect your productivity.
For example, putting a water bottle on your work desk reminds you to drink water and this improves your overall wellbeing.
Consider another example. Changing your browser homepage to your blog’s homepage is a good method to trigger you to grow and work on your blog.
These may seem like a small hack, but they do play an important role in your surroundings. They can affect your decision and hence, your action.
Just like if you write your affirmation and put it on the mirror in your bathroom, you will see it every morning when you brush your teeth, and this makes you want to say your affirmation.
It is a great “hack” by leveraging the environment and the surrounding you are in.
27. Remember your purpose and review your goals
You can never be productive without knowing your purpose why you do something. Clarity is power, my friend.
This is why Kevin Kruse looks at his top goals in life before he starts his day. Reviewing your goals is a great strategy to inspire you to take action.
Why do you want to work so hard? And why do you even want to be productive anyway?
There must be a reason behind why you want to be productive and get more things done, right?
And your answer to the question is exactly what fuels you. The stronger your reason, the greater the motivation.
Just like the saying, “When there is a will, there is a way.” But first, you must find out your will. Find out why you do what you do.
The more clear you are about what it is that you want, the more your brains know how to get there.
28. Dress like you are going to work
Yes, to have a productive day, you must dress like a productive person who is going to work.
According to Dr. Karen Pine, a professor from the University of Hertfordshire says that dressing casually could cause employees to feel less focused and alert.
This article from Forbes also mentioned how you dress can affect your productivity. This is what the article says:
“So if you wear a t-shirt and jeans at work…and a t-shirt and jeans on the weekend, can you differentiate between your “work self” and “weekend self?” Does it mean you’re in work mode 24/7? Or conversely, are you likely to always be in play mode finding it harder to be productive?”
This is why we feel fitter in our sports attire. And when you put on a suit, you feel like a professional.
Study has discovered that your alertness is affected by how and what you put on. Can you imagine doctors wearing a t-shirt and jean and goes for operation?
This research has shown that when people put on a doctor’s lab coat, their attention heightened.
Do you now know why it is important to dress properly when it comes to being productive now?
Of course, you don’t have to wear a suit to work from home, but at least wear something to show that you respect your work and you are subconsciously telling yourself that you are working.
And when you are working, you need to be productive.
29. Clean up and organize
Do you know that the tennis superstar, Andre Agassi once said that he would never let anyone touch his tennis bag? He said that because if it gets disorganized, he’d get distracted.
So clean up and get organized. This is important both at your workplace and at home. You must make sure things are clean and organize so that they won’t block your thinking and distract you.
Each day before you get back home from your office, spend a couple of minutes to clean and organize your workstation.
And if you work from your home, do the same. If possible, try to differentiate your workstation from your living area. Don’t mix both of them up.
When you are organized, both mentally and physically (your workplace), you can save a lot of energy and jump to your work immediately.
30. Ask this one question
“What’s the one thing I can do right now such that by doing it I will progress to my goal?”
You want to put your mind to focus on the one thing that you can do right now so that you will make progress toward your goal.
Many people don’t this question. This is why they end up doing something else like watching the TV, playing games, or checking out what others are doing on social media.
When you know what you need to do and what you are supposed to do right now, you can then focus your attention and dive straight into doing that task.
So ask this question throughout the day.
This will make sure that you are doing the most important task that will give you the most result. And this is how you can have a productive day.
We have come a long way in this article. If you are reading up to this point, congratulations because this article is over 5,000 words long, and still, you are able to read until this point.
Here’s a quick recap of what you have learned to be productive:
- Start early
- Drink some lemon water as you wake up
- Exercise and move your body
- Repeat your affirmations
- Visualize the success you want
- Get a healthy breakfast
- Start with the right mood
- Focus on doing the most result-yielding tasks first
- Time-block and schedule your priorities
- Plan your breaks and time off too
- Make use of a to-do list
- Identify your goals for the day
- Apply the Big-Five technique
- Outsource tasks that you are not good at
- Remember to batch similar tasks together
- Get rid of all distractions when you work
- Turn your commute time into productive hours
- Work according to your productive workflow
- Try to focus on doing one thing at a time
- Use music and songs to boost your energy
- Drink a cup of coffee if need to
- Sleep early to fully recharge your energy
- Drink more water and hydrate your body throughout the day
- Avoid the peak-hour rush if possible
- Follow a productive routines
- Build a positive and organized work environment
- Remember your purpose and review your goals
- Dress like you are going to work
- Clean up and organize
- Ask this one question
It is a long list. I hope what I shared here is helpful and inspirational.
One final thing. Please understand that in order to be productive, you must do.
Merely reading these tips is not helping at all. Knowing is different from doing. If you want to make your day productive and achieve outstanding results in life, you must do.
Before you go, let me know which tip is the most helpful. And if you have any other tips to add, do give me a buzz. Leave your comment below. Cheers.