It’s funny how we all have the same number of hours in a day, but some people just seem to get more done. Sure, there could be a little bit of luck at play — that, or they’ve somehow broken the space-time continuum. But we’d venture to guess that it’s probably more habitual, in that they’ve established patterns to maximize the time available.
Here are six habits some of the most productive people do every day to ensure they feel successful:
1. Get into a morning routine
Consistency is key to starting the day productively. In other words, establish some sort of routine in the morning. Even making a habit of turning on the light when you wake up can help you get a jump on the day.
But don’t stop there. Incorporate a variety of other activities to get those engines running, like making the bed, eating a morning meal, meditating for five minutes, or moving the body (i.e. a few squats, push-ups, sit-ups, etc.). Just find a set of activities that make you feel proactive and prepared for the day.
2. Journal your gratitude
Journaling your gratitude may not sound like something that will boost productivity or increase the chances of success, but research has found that people who kept a weekly “gratitude journal” saw greater improvements in optimism, according to Psychology Today. They also experienced improvements in exercise patterns, fewer physical ailments, and increased determination.
3. Exercise daily
We all know the benefits of working out, but did you know exercise has a positive effect on job performance? When you work out, the brain secretes a chemical that helps “maintain a healthy brain.” Consider exercising in the morning to reap the benefits all day.
4. Make “if-then” contingencies
Most people just schedule their days and then roll with the punches as plans inevitably change. But when you build “if-then” contingency plans into your calendar, you’re two to three times more likely to reach your goals.
The reason: the response to change is now automatic, as you’ve built a reaction into your schedule. Let’s say you’re up against a tight deadline. To make sure the project gets done, you could think, “If I get a meeting request, then I’ll move it to a time left free on a different day.” Problem pre-solved.
5. Tackle the hardest tasks first
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Now, we’re not actually suggesting you eat a frog, but Mark Twain does make an excellent point. If you do the hardest task first, everything else will feel like a breeze.
The morning is when your mind is at its clearest — not to mention, when the workplace is at its emptiest — making it that much easier to devote your undivided attention to the hardest task. It also gives you the opportunity to have an early “win,” providing a bit more momentum for the day.
6. Establish “end-of-day” rituals
Like a morning routine, it’s also a good habit to create some rituals around shutting down for the end of the day. And one of the most important aspects to any “end-of-day” ritual is to get a jump on the next day by prioritizing tomorrow’s to-do list.
In fact, jotting down what needs to get done the next day has a dual purpose. It settles your brain as you move into the evening, allowing you to shake off the workday and theoretically get a better night’s sleep. Of course, this then helps you wake more rested and ready for another productive day.
What you choose to do before, during, and after work can affect your productivity and success. Take a look at the six habits above and figure out which ones fit in your routine. Although there is no secret to success, changing just a few habits can increase your productivity and help you end each day feeling successful.