How do you start your day? Are you already exhausted before you get out of bed, because your brain was in overdrive, keeping you awake thinking about your small business? How productive can your day be, when you’re tired at 7 am?
No worries, here are four simple habits to adopt that can transform you into a paragon of productivity.
1. Create—and use a to-do list. This habit really starts before you go to bed. The best time to create a to-do list is the night before. Getting your must-do tasks on paper or in your computer helps you clear your mind so you’ll sleep better. Before you dive into your day, glance at your schedule and prioritize your tasks. At the top of your list are the things you have to do that involve other people (like travel, meetings or sales calls) or deliverables with firm deadlines.
Unless you have a lot of open time, don’t add “just a few more things” onto your list. It’s important to leave buffer time to deal with all the last-minute tasks that inevitably come up when you’re running a small business.
2. Take care of yourself. Whether it’s going to the gym, meditating or even just taking a short walk, some type of activity that helps you get focused is a smart way to start the day. And make sure you eat breakfast—that’s the fuel that will fill your “empty” tank.
3. Have a routine. I’m not the most organized person, but I’ve observed a lot of people who are and they have one thing in common: a routine. Hey, it’s morning and you’re not thinking totally clearly. Having a routine helps you auto-pilot yourself through the basic tasks of the morning before you really dig into the tough stuff.
4. Start with something big … or small. There are two approaches to tackling your to-do list. One says start with the biggest, most important must-do of the day. The other says start with a couple quick tasks you can check off quickly to gain a feeling of accomplishment.
Personally, I like to mix it up depending on how I feel that morning. But I always start my day (despite some advice to do otherwise) checking email, to see if a client needs something. Then I decide if I have the energy to jump into a big project, or if I need to get my day going by easing into it.
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