I believe that habits are formed through routines. Routines are simply actions repeated long enough. In this article, I choose to focus on the most basic — actions.
A majority of people struggle with how to make their time productive. You’ve probably heard someone say something like: “I’m not confident that I achieved anything yesterday.” I hope to help that kind of person here:
- Plan: Put up a personal daily schedule and you’re 50% more likely to end the day with some feeling of accomplishment, because you know what to spend your time on. Anything outside that is simply distraction.
- Focus: Ensure that you spend the allotted time for each of the items on your daily schedule fully concentrating on just that item. Unless the roof is on fire, don’t take out time to attend to something else. This leads to the next tip. (Oh! One more thing: if you work in an organization where the roof is always on fire, you should consider a job change. Hopefully, your boss is unaware that you’re reading this!)
- Breaks: While making your schedule, a smart thing to do is to include time for breaks. This helps to ensure that you have some breathing room and stay relatively fresh for the majority of your work. The pomodoro technique might be helpful here.
- Free Blocks: This is different from breaks. Here, you want to have a reasonable block of time marked as “free,” or anything you prefer to call it. This is a good time to help colleagues who might need your assistance, or have chats or brief discussions that do not necessarily fit into your primary responsibility but could be very helpful to others.
- Avoid Overtime: If you find yourself spending more time than scheduled on tasks or staying late at your desk frequently, you might want to look into how you make time estimates and improve that. Put up your A game when you’re working — don’t do overtime unless it’s extremely necessary. Close at the appropriate time, spend the rest of your day with people or on other things that matter to you. Yes, be punctual, but don’t resume too early! If you do, you probably didn’t do things right the previous day.
- Evaluate: Before you go to bed every day, take some time to go through your schedule and see the items you were able to check off: what went well and what did not. That should inform how you make your schedule for the next day.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if you stay consistent with this, you are headed in the right direction.
Each day is like a drop that makes the ocean of your lifetime — make it productive 😉