If you and I were to jump into a time machine (we have those, right?), and head back to this time last year, you would likely see me, passed out in bed, for at least another 2 hours. I was rarely up at the crack of dawn because sleep was my best pal. Waking up was like torture for me every morning, even if I got enough rest.
Now, I’m awake before the birds (between 4am-5am most mornings), and… I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I really do believe that getting up early has changed my life for the better. It has enabled me to accomplish so much more in my days, which then leads me to feel proud, happy, and positive (which of course, puts those around me in a better mood, too!).
Early rising is just one thing that I’ve done to have productive days. It’s the biggest, hugest, most important one, in my opinion – but it’s just one thing. In order to set myself up for an insanely productive day, I have a bunch of things that I do, in addition to getting up early.
1. Make a list and check it twice.
Every Sunday, I make a weekly to-do list. This list includes everything that I need to get done in both my business and my personal life. Everything from appointments, to cleaning the fridge, to writing a blog post, to ordering new light bulbs online – it’s all there.
Then, each night (usually right after dinner), I make a to-do list for the next day, pulling things from the weekly to-do list. In the morning, I can jump right to it, and get to work on crossing things off my list. I don’t always get to every single thing, but most of the time, I get it all done.
2. Prep meals for the day ahead.
Another thing I do each Sunday is my weekly meal prep. I make a menu plan for the week, and then prep as much as I can for the 3 or 4 days that follow (some stuff can last up to a week, but it usually won’t last more than a few days at our house!).
Often, I’ll make muffins, waffles, rice, quinoa, I’ll chop fruits and veggies, and I’ll also prep lunches for the next 2 days. This is usually salads and/or a rice or quinoa bowl, to keep things easy.
Since these lunches are done, and there are pancakes and waffles for breakfast (and/or our daily smoothie!), then the majority of our meals are done for the day and I don’t have to worry about making anything until dinner time. This allows me to focus on my to-do list and get most (if not all) to-do’s crossed off before dinner (if I’m feeling really ambitious, sometimes I prep dinner one or two nights in advance, as well)!
If you really want to have an insanely productive day, prep as much of your food for the next day as you possibly can. Having that food ready is really a life saver!
3. Clear out the clutter.
One thing I learned about a year ago is that I’m a clutter collector (at least when it comes to office materials). On my desk, you would often find giant piles of paperwork, dozens of pens all over the place (most of them not even working), notebooks and note pads scattered everywhere and, oddly enough, toys from the playroom (which is right beside my office).
I also noticed this problem in our dining room. The kitchen table was always littered with junk that didn’t belong there. It’s as if flat surfaces were just calling my name to drop stuff onto them and then walk away.
As you can imagine, it was hard for me to get any real work done. Setting the table for dinner each night was a real pain (where do I put this pile of socks?! what about these gardening seeds?! and the dog’s leash???), and getting business and financial work done in my office was a nightmare.
One day, I cleared off my office desk, simply because the kids were in the playroom and I had a few minutes to spare. The next morning when I walked in to do some work, I saw the naked desk and smiled – and had one of the most productive mornings I’d had in months!
I decided to try the same thing with the kitchen table. That same evening, I cleared off the table and decided it would always be cleared completely, except when we were eating. I’ve kept it up ever since (of course, I had a few days where things got piled up, but nothing like before!), and it has made dinner time a lot less stressful.
It’s amazing what a clear space can do for your mental health.
These are not hard things to do. They do take some time to get used to, but once I got used to doing them, they became routine, and now I don’t even think about them. They just get done – and when these 3 things get done, my days are extremely productive!
My business has been doing phenomenally well, and in my personal life, I’ve experienced some amazing things – all because I did these things regularly. If you want to start experiencing more productive days, I highly recommend giving at least one of these ideas a go!