Think of the amazing feeling that you get when you look down at your list for the day and everything is checked off. Wow! What a productive day!! Well, I've had fewer of those days lately, and I think I've figured out why. I am making three key mistakes during my morning that sap my productivity. Here they are (in no particular order)...
- Limit Short-Term Distractions - It's so easy to turn the TV on after my kids jump on the bus. Or maybe I'll just see what's happening on Facebook. Oh, what did I miss in the news last night? Perhaps I should just check my neighborhood website to see if there are any dogs on the loose or grills for sale. And that laundry pile is looking awfully tempting right now. Ok. That last one doesn't really happen, but you get the idea...distractions are EVERYWHERE. I have a nasty habit of thinking that I'll just turn on the TV while I have breakfast, but then find myself looking for other things to do so that I can just be there on the couch for a little while longer. All of these distractions sap what is my most productive time of the day - morning. It doesn't seem like long - 30 minutes here, an hour there, but before you know it, I'm coming up on lunch, and I've accomplished little more than finding out what my friends ate for breakfast on Facebook and which celebrity is getting a divorce. My new strategy is JUST DON'T DO IT. Save the distractions for after lunch when I'm tired and groggy anyway.
- Eat Breakfast - Sometimes I'm so motivated to get to work that I skimp or ignore breakfast. That's a huge mistake when it comes to productivity. Not only does eating breakfast mean I'm not distracted by hunger an hour into my day, but nutritionists suggest that eating certain foods - bananas, oatmeal, and pineapple - can actually increase feelings of productivity. Something I'm looking forward to trying is the concept, pioneered by David Cain of the Raptitude blog, of eating the same food everyday for breakfast to try to eliminate the indecisiveness that I sometimes feel at that time of day. It will also provide my body with a consistently strong nutritional foundation for the day and eliminate the cravings and hunger I feel around 10am.
- The List - I am a list-maker at heart. I have washed up to do lists, grocery lists, attendance lists, and every other type of list littering my purse on any given day. It makes my husband crazy that I still physically write things down instead of putting them on the computer, but the act of writing somehow commits the lists to memory in a way that typing never will. There are countless articles about writing lists the in evening, and I do that fairly regularly just to get ideas out of my brain. However, what I need to do in the morning is prioritize that list. Come up with a plan for how to tackle the list, what actually needs to happen before noon, what can wait, what errands can be combined, what can I delegate, etc. This prioritization needs to be a morning activity because I can look at the day with a fresh set of eyes and overlay any appointments or other commitments I have on top of what needs to be done. Hopefully, if I set up a good plan, I'll be able to achieve that feeling of accomplishment by actually crossing things off of the lists.
So, I'm going to try these tricks for the next few weeks, and see how it goes. I hope that they will help me to keep focused during this holiday time when all I really want to be doing is sipping hot chocolate by the Christmas tree.