10 Daily Habits that Will Make You Incredibly Productive
By 9:02pm, it’s hard to hide the frustration of a day gone wrong.
This particular day, I got off to a late start, fielded multiple phone calls and texts each hour, had to run errands that afternoon, and felt like I was spinning in eight different directions without crossing a single task off my to-do list!
As much as I would rather wallow in self-pity, blame everyone else, and fuel my emotions with a bowl of chocolate peanut butter ice cream (Turkey Hill, please), my analytical brain can’t help but contemplate what went wrong and why my day didn’t go as planned.
In other words,
Are there practical things I can do differently to prevent this from happening again?
Even though I may not do all of the following habits every day (overachiever I am, but perfect, no), I’m less likely to experience the day I described above as long as I practice most of them. In fact, whenever I implement these 10 best practices, my day runs so much smoother, and I feel way more productive than before!
So if you’ve ever had a day that can only be summed up with the word “UGH!”…there is hope!
These ten powerful habits will keep your day running smoothly, help you learn how to transform your life, and minimize any possible mishaps along the way. (A few habits may even surprise you!)
1. Write out your to-do list the night before
Mornings can be stressful! (Amen?)
Take away some of the stress by creating your to-do list the night before. Not only will you feel ready to start working right away (because you already know what to do!), you also establish a definitive end to your current day and can relax, knowing that tomorrow’s list will be there to tackle…tomorrow.
I personally spend 10 minutes before bed going over the tasks I didn’t finish that day, and I migrate them to my next day’s to-do list in my bullet journal using a time-blocking method I’ll explain more about in #7!
Related: Weekly vs. Daily Logs: How to Pick the Perfect Bullet Journal Layout
2. Get Enough Sleep
While writing out tomorrow’s to-do list is great way to clear your mind before bed, I would argue that the most important thing that helps set any day up for success is getting enough sleep the night before. It’s also often one of the first things to go when life gets busy!
But a good night’s rest makes all the difference between a “stumble through everything in a fog” type of day and one where you have energy, clarity, and focus. Your body craves this time to renew itself. Plus, you won’t need as much concealer to cover up the lasting effects of night gone wrong. 😉
Have trouble falling asleep? Try one of these 11 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight.
3. Make the bed
Knock this simple, one-minute task off your list the moment you wake up and you’ll instantly feel like all is right with the world and you can tackle anything you set your mind to.
Okay, maybe not to that extent, but you’ll be ready to tackle anything with a neatly made bed jumpstarting your day! In fact, make this part of your morning routine so you don’t have to even think about doing it anymore—you’ll just do it.
Speaking of which…
4. Create a morning routine
The difference between a day that starts with a morning routine and a day that doesn’t proves how effective a morning routine really is. Without it, I’m toast. With it, I create a foundational support system that helps everything else fall into place and helps me have a productive day.
The first thing to ask yourself when creating a morning routine, is WHY do you want to do it? Those WHY’s will carry you through and motivate you to crawl out of bed each morning.
I share more about my own morning routine (including my WHY!) HERE.
5. Look presentable
I’m not saying you can’t be productive in your pajamas or workout clothes, but if you’re like me, you’ll be even more productive if you get dressed, do your hair, and put on a little makeup.
Here’s why: looking your best helps you be more confident about yourself and your abilities, which means you’ll be inspired to tackle your to-do list rather than tempted by the thought of scrolling through social media or watching “just one episode” on Netflix.
I know it sounds crazy, but it totally works. (Even if you just put on a little mascara and lip gloss!).
6. Do the most important things first
Brian Tracy recommends you tackle the hardest things first in his popular book, Eat That Frog, but I disagree.
You should actually do the most important things first. And sometimes, that is the hardest task on your list! But when you make this distinction, you switch your focus to your priorities versus what feels urgent but isn’t necessarily important.
No matter how many tasks land on my to-do list each day, I prioritize just 1-2. In fact, I trick myself into accomplishing more tasks by only giving myself those to complete because 1-2 feels much more doable, and I’m ready to take on more when I have a couple wins under my belt.
Bottom Line: Accomplishment fuels motivation!
7. Try time blocking
This post goes more in depth about time blocking, but in short, time-blocking means you batch certain tasks at certain times of the day or on certain “themed” days in order to be more efficient and get more done. Basically, you segment your to-do lists.
And it works!
When you know exactly what you need to get done and when you’re going to do it, you stop “spinning your wheels” and make actual progress toward that one thing, rather than getting distracted by all the things.
online “Crash class”
Time Blocking: The Distraction-Free Way to Structure Your Day
More of a visual learner? Don’t miss this deep dive teaching about Time Blocking (the powerful productivity method you need to take back your day!)
8. Resist the urge to multi-task or you won’t have a productive day!
Believe it or not, multi-tasking is a myth. And believe me, I understand how frustrating that is for someone who just wants to get more done!
The truth is: our brain can literally only focus on one thing at a time.
That means doubling your efforts by opening another browser tab while you wait for the current one to load (totally guilty!) doesn’t help you have a productive day. Clear out the mental clutter (and the physical clutter too!) so you can give 100% of your attention to that one thing and finish what you start.
9. Get Moving
Whether it’s a 10-minute walk outside or a 30-minute workout, get your body moving! I’m no biology major, but when your heart-rate increases, it sends a feel-good signal to your brain that motivates you to tackle a task or project right after (even if it doesn’t feel too awesome in the moment!).
Even though I hate running, I make myself do it 3x a week because not only do I feel better afterward, I also have more energy.
If you struggle to stay committed to exercise, I suggest getting a Fitbit. It’s an investment up front, but it keeps me moving more often than I did before—I want to see my heart rate and steps increase! The device also “buzzes” my wrist when I’ve been sitting for too long as a reminder to get up and walk around. Sometimes I hate that interruption, but it does work.
10. Do a 10-minute pick-up
Ever since I established a 10-minute evening pick-up routine, my house has continued to stay cleaner and less cluttered than before. It’s not always completely clutter-free, but dedicating just 10 minutes a day to putting things back in their place, washing the remaining dishes, and tidying up the living room keeps you in total control.
So how does this relate to productivity?
Because clutter in your physical space translates to clutter in your mind. A clear countertop = a clear head. (And you’ll be able to get more done because you’ll have more space!)
With these ten habits as a part of your daily routine, the next time 9:02pm rolls around, you won’t look back on your day in frustration and wonder how you managed to accomplish so little. Instead, you’ll take a proactive approach over a reactive one and stay on track a lot easier than before. You’ll have a productive day!
And while they’re not miracle workers for a perfect day—life is LIFE!—these habits will set you up for greater success in the long run. So much so, that you’ll be ready to create another amazing day again tomorrow!
Let’s chat about your day:
What habit helps you keep your day on track?
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I am so motivated by this! I make lists already and feel my life is organized chaos. This has been so helpful. Thank you!
You’re welcome Kim!
Organized chaos is the first step of getting out of pure chaos. 🙂
Most days I write my to-do list the day before. Some days I am so into what I am writing or creating that I end up burning the clock at both ends.
I know that feeling so well! I get up to do that one last thing before I go to bed, and the next thing I know it’s past midnight and I’m kicking myself knowing that tomorrow is going to be harder because I didn’t get enough sleep.
Kalyn, I just fo to battle daily with a und your blog. I have to battle daily with a rare illness. It is often hard for me to feel motivated to do much of anything. I am battling very hard to find organization and purpose for my life.
Thank you for giving me motivation to get on track for my life. I have been boosted up by this first artice and will be reading more.
I’m so sorry for the difficulties you’re facing. I hope that anything you find here will be helpful in your journey forward and continue to be an encouragement for you to keep pressing forward.
I do a lot of these things too. Making the bed in the morning and taking a few minutes to tidy makes it easier to get into a work routine.
Morning routines are so key. When I get out of my routine I find my days, and weeks begin to crumble.
I also make my to-do list a day before. This gives me direction for the next day and allows me to finish a lot of things. I always make it a point that I will be productive every day.
That is a fantastic habit! Lately I’m discovering that I need to either do it in the late afternoon, or wait until the next morning. If I do it at night, I end up with my mind keeping me up going over the list.
Hiiiiiiyyyyyaaa!! Oh man I can’t tell you how hard all of this resonated with me!! I am literally having that exact day and the same instinct was waving over me that I needed to streamline and prioritize to avoid this feeling//day from happening again, and so prompted a ‘brain dump’ search on Pinterest and I found your site, it is literally EXACTLY what my soul was asking for, the universe is beautiful and exhilarating, and so are you!! Keep inspiring and creating and sharing your truth, it is so so abundantly needed in this word and beautifully inspiring !!
Aw, thank you Grace. I’m glad you popped in and your encouragement was just what I needed to read this afternoon. 🤗
I really appreciate the tip on creating the to-do list the night before! Time blocking has been a huge help in helping me manage time. Great post 🙂
Yes! Getting everything off my mind before bed is a HUGE help! I’m glad you found it useful as well. 🙂
Wowww!!! This blogpost has truly helped.me.and I can’t wait to practice everything tomorrow. I’m guilt of always feeling unproductive everyday and I agree that multitasking is a myth.
I’m so glad!! Yes it’s so important to stay focused for sure.
I haven’t been organized since we had our 3rd child – 14 years ago! Being a military family, we’ve had to break down a home and set it back up in a new house lots of times, making what worked in one place fit another. It’s so tough! I have tried over and over again, but nothing seems to work. Now, I need medication, and I have started a morning routine to make sure that I get my medicine taken in time and take my vitamins an hour later. Starting a new routine with taking care of myself seems to be sticking! It seems selfish, but I have to stick to a schedule, and therefore, I am. Before I floated on a whim because we are stuck at home with no schedule.
I appreciate the reminders of how to get stuff done – I’m adding getting presentable early to my new routine – baby steps!
Wow, it sounds like you’ve made amazing progress! I’m so glad you’ve found my tips helpful, keep up the good work!
I do list the night before some times if having appointments needing to take things I put the all in a bag or folder. By my bag or even pre load them in the car so they will be with me when I go to places. Ahead of time so in the last minute rush to get out the door. Leaves me to focus on routine. And I don’t forget to take those papers or things ad they are already in my car from or bag from the night before. This tip also helps me to be organised. Plus doing a bake up. The night before a 3 day summit mental health issues. Which is 15 hours in 3 days. Helps me get easy food and healthy food. So doing things in block times.
Yes! Having a great evening routine is so key to making the mornings go more smoothly.