How to Boost Your Productivity in Five Simple Steps

stopwatch productivity
Written by Chandler Harris

Productivity is an essential part of a fulfilling life. But it can be difficult to get going. Here are five tips to wake you up and get cranking.

aNewDomain — Any chance you’re someone who stumbles out of bed and wanders through their morning routine looking more like a refugee from “The Walking Dead” than an actual human? If so, you might want to change up your morning habits. Productivity is essential to a fulfilling life, and the morning is the best place to start. With a few adjustments you can dive into a productive and active zone the moment you wake up.

There are thousands of tips out there designed to help you jump-start your morning and increase productivity, but here are five that stand out as great research-supported methods.

1. Establish Morning Habits

productivity bedSet up a routine for yourself that helps you get out of bed and get focused for your day. Some people choose to meditate, which is a mellow start with myriad benefits, including stress reduction, improved memory and increased focus.

Other folks start the day with exercise. Moving in the morning, like going for a run, helps your body burn calories more efficiently through the day, and gives you an endorphin boost from the get-go.

Navy Seal Admiral William McRaven always includes making his bed in his morning routine:

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.”

The key here is establishing a routine and sticking with it every morning. No skipping that daily jog if it’s raining outside — find a way to follow through on your routine so your body and brain get in the habit of getting up and going. Oh, and don’t forget to include a healthy breakfast. Your body needs to start the day with energy.

2. Embrace Visualization

Visualization is a powerful tool you can use to achieve short-term and long-term goals. Athletes all over the world have used this technique to help them achieve success. According to the 39 Power Habits of Wildly Successful People, Michael Phelps used visualization during the 2012 London Olympics when he won six medals. He visualized the entire race the night before.

During the Wimbledon Men’s Final, after the champion Novak Djokovic lost the first set, he took a bathroom break to visualize the remainder of the game. He then went on to defeat Roger Federer and win the title. Visualization impacts attention, perception, planning and memory.

3. Build a Daily To Do List

productivity listIt may sound old-fashioned, but a simple and straightforward to do list is incredibly effective for increasing productivity. Start by writing a quick brainstorm of all the things you want to accomplish for the day. Then split the task lists into two columns and identify your “80/20” tasks for today. In the “20” column, list out the most important tasks for your day, and in the “80” list out the ones that can be delayed for a day, a week or more.

This idea comes from the 80/20 principle, which states that 80 percent of your profit comes from 20 percent of your customers — focus on that top 20 percent to make the best use of your time.

4. One Small Step at a Time

The biggest productivity killers are typically distractions. They include noise, Facebook, your own thoughts, emails or games. No matter what tends to draw you away from the task at hand, try to prevent it from sucking your attention. Some people turn off their Internet connection to avoid the compulsion to check emails or Facebook.

5. Set a Timer

Instead of working for hours on end, set a timer for about 25 minutes to work on a project without stopping. Once the timer goes off, take a five minute break. A timer motivates you to work harder because you know you’ll be able to stop and take a break. This method, known as the Pomodoro Technique, is based on the idea that frequent breaks improve mental agility and help to refresh a person.

There you have it. Ready to get started?

For aNewDomain, I’m .

Ed: The original version of this article ran on aNewDomain’s BreakingModern. Read it here

Images in order: Stopwatch by William Warby via Flickr; Big Bed by Joel Kramer via Flickr; Kid To Do List by Carissa Rogers via Flickr.