You’ve looked into productivity tools (check out a few of our favorites here) and tried to implement advice from time management gurus to get more done during your workday.
But business ownership and freelancing aren’t run-of-the-mill jobs, and the people who gravitate toward those paths tend to think outside the box. Yet no matter how many plates you’re spinning, there are things you can do—daily and weekly—to maintain focus and improve productivity. Here are five that work for (almost) everyone.
Schedule regular breaks (and take them)
Plan for at least two 15-minute breaks and a lunch break that stretches at least 30 minutes every day. Then, step away from your workspace and take a walk, put on some music, grab a snack (or lunch) or kick your feet up outside for a bit.
Regular breaks give your mind a chance to decompress so you’re ready to get back to work with renewed focus. And, taking time to grab food keeps energy levels up so you can power through the rest of your day.
Spruce up your workspace
Research shows that creating a visually pleasing workspace increases productivity by up to 15%. No, you don’t have to completely redecorate. But making room for a plant on your desk, lighting a candle and/or hanging a few pieces of wall décor that get your creative juices flowing makes a world of difference.
Prioritize recreation time
Much like breaks, taking time just for yourself gives the “work” side of your brain a much-needed rest. Try to give yourself at least 30 minutes a day where you do something fun, and then a bigger chunk of time every week to truly let go.
Maybe end every workday with a walk through the park or get up just a half-hour earlier so you have time to sit and drink a cup of coffee sans rush. Then, go join that yoga class on Thursdays, take an afternoon off to catch a movie with a friend or camp out at a coffee shop with a good book for a few hours. Or, play a board game with the kids, settle on the patio and call your mom or go lazily explore that new antique shop in town.
You get the picture.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you’re carving out time for activities that fuel the “you” part of you, not the “work” part of you.
Rethink snacks and lunches
Studies have found that overeating carb-heavy foods measurably lowers productivity. And, dealing with low blood sugar (from skipping meals, not eating enough or eating too many carbs and not enough protein) make that afternoon slump start earlier and have a more dramatic impact on your output.
Don’t be afraid to have a cookie with your afternoon coffee or order takeout for lunch once in a while; but, do prioritize healthy snacks and lunches.
Spend a bit of time on your day off to prep so you aren’t trying to fit elaborate cooking into your day. Next weekend, pour a drink and turn on some music. Wash and prep produce, boil some eggs, grill up a bunch of chicken and make a big batch of rice. Throw in some sliced cheese, crackers and pre-portioned nuts, and you have quick breakfasts, healthy snacks and all the makings for lunch salads, burrito bowls and 10-minute stir-fries.
No, you don’t have to wake up before the crack of dawn to head to a boot camp. There’s no requirement to sign up for a gym membership. And, you don’t have to run 20 miles every week.
Exercise doesn’t have to equal “drenched-in-sweat-and-maybe-I’m-dying.” Take a walk with your morning coffee or tea, do sets of squats and lunges before you hop in the shower, go for a swim or hit up the driving range. Studies show that regular exercise increases energy levels, creativity and productivity, all while reducing brain fog.
And, another study found that low-intensity exercise offers all of these benefits at nearly the same rate as moderate-intensity exercise. So, while you should take up CrossFit, weight training or running if those activities interest you, a daily walk will still make a world of difference.
The main takeaway: Prioritize yourself. Self-care to a self-starter is the equivalent of putting your oxygen mask on first before you help the person next to you. And if you’re ready for even more productivity ideas, check out this exclusive article from Biz.me.
Now—go take a break. 😊