Scott over at Lifehack recently wrote about the rituals and how they help maximize time. There are two rituals that I think are especially important: waking up and working.
The Wake Up Ritual
The Work Ritual
Few things make as much of an impact on the day as when and how you wake up. Fighting with the alarm clock, not drinking caffeine, and not eating breakfast are a sure way to hamper the productivity for the day.
Whatever your full ritual is, get up when the alarm clock first goes off, drink some caffeine (if you’re one of those souls that have mastered existence without caffeine, I admire you), and eat breakfast. Do this everyday and you will program your body and mind to follow-up the routine with high-yield work periods.
The single most effective way to set yourself up for success during working is to define at the end of the work day what you’ll do the next day. This serves three purposes:
First, it serves to give you some perspective on what you’ve accomplished during the work day. It may have seemed that you didn’t get anything done, but when you review what you’ve done, you’ll often see that that’s not the case. If you truly didn’t get anything done, then take a minute and try to figure out why. What contributing agents were there that kept you from being productive?
Second, it makes you plan your work into actionable steps for the next day. It also gives a psychological “stake in the ground” to return to that may do some motivational work in the morning.
Third, you don’t have to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing first thing in the morning when your energy and motivation is usually the lowest. It’s hard to get to work in the morning when you both don’t want to and don’t really have a clear idea of what you need to be doing. With a plan in place, you can just follow the steps you’ve set up for yourself until (a) you get motivated to work or (b) you’ve done all the work you needed to do for the day.
Combining these two rituals is a powerful way to boost yourself into a productive mode. There’s a takeaway point to remember here: you’re creating habits and rituals even if you don’t intend to. Doing the same thing day in and day out programs your body and mind to continue to do those same things; you can either harness this fact and create rituals and habits that help you flourish, or you can leave it to chance.