I don’t think anyone with a busy day ahead of them wakes up and says to themselves, “let me see how I can waste time today.” Nonetheless, it’s easy to fall into habits that distract us from what matters the most.
Good intent isn’t enough. We have to evaluate ourselves and our lives honestly. It’s important to be mindful of how we approach every day, so that we don’t waste precious time that could be used to our benefit.
“Productivity” has become a gimmicky concept in the entrepreneurial community, and a lot of tips that are suggested aren’t feasible for our lifestyles. I get it. Let’s try to make changes that are intentional, but not drastic. I teamed up with McDonalds to give you five practical, sustainable ways you can improve your productivity every day. Get you a hot Caramel Macchiato from McDonalds, and let’s get into it.
1. Work out in the morning
Whether you go for a run, hit the gym, or knock out a brief exercise routine at home, working out is a fantastic way to start your day. If you’re working a 9 to 5, you know that you’re going to invest a significant amount of time and energy fulfilling your employers’ desires. Why not start the day investing in yourself?
Taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional well being is essential for a happy, productive lifestyle. Physical activity can contribute positively to all three of those components. Exercise will energize you mentally, improve your mood for up to twelve hours after your workout, and counter the effects of a sedentary desk job lifestyle.
2. Make the most of your Sunday
I grew up thinking of Sunday as a day of rest. I like to sleep in, catch up on my favorite tv shows, and eat to my heart’s content. That will never change. However, the purpose of my Sundays has expanded as I’ve come into my own, both as an adult and an entrepreneur.
I’ve come to view Sunday as both a day of rest and a day of preparation. Taking a few hours to plan out your focus for the week, prioritize your schedule, meal prep, and clean your house is time well spent. It will help you to hit the ground running on Monday morning, instead of feeling like you’re already scrambling to keep up.
3. Stick to a diet that will energize you instead of tiring you out.
Food is amazing, and nobody wants to be eating air, quinoa, and kale all day. As a man who loves his family’s southern-influenced comfort food to death, I completely understand that health isn’t always the first priority when it comes to diet. Eating healthy every day can potentially be expensive and inconvenient. That being said, you have to understand that food is fuel. The quality of fuel that you put into your body is going to directly affect how your body runs.
Everything from how sleepy you get after lunch to how sharp your mind stays in the last few hours of the workday depends partially on what kind of food you’re putting into your body. At the bare minimum, I encourage you to commit to a balanced diet with a significant amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, and to drink more water in lieu of sugary beverages throughout the day. Give your body the quality fuel it needs to power through long days.
4. Make counterproductive habits inconvenient to maintain.
Social media apps. Texting. Email. Talking to coworkers. The world is full of distractions, some of which are unpreventable. A number of them can be controlled and limited. Figure out which habits you’re wasting time on during the day, and make them more difficult to sustain.
Does your phone constantly buzz, vibrate and ring while you’re trying to work? Take the time to turn off all unnecessary notifications. If you want to take things a step further, put your phone away in a drawer, purse, or briefcase, and just check it every hour or so. Do you find yourself constantly checking email and losing focus on the task at hand? Turn off those notifications as well, and just check your email every half an hour or so. Do coworkers constantly want to engage in meaningless banter while you’re trying to get things done? Don’t be afraid to politely tell them when you need to get work done. When it’s time to work, be as efficient as possible so that you can truly enjoy your downtime when all is said and done.
5. Drink coffee (strategically).
I’m convinced that if my last job hadn’t had a well stocked supply of coffee available every morning, there would have been at least one sleep deprivation induced brawl in the break room every month. Thankfully, we didn’t have that problem. I don’t advise you to take the risk, either. A well timed cup of coffee can make most people more open to human interaction before lunchtime. That’s just one of coffee’s benefits, though. Coffee also has been shown to improve mental performance and alertness and enhance willpower.
Don’t think of coffee as some sort of magic serum that you need to always be sipping; but strategically drinking coffee after lunch, when you’re likely to be tired, or when you need to quickly absorb and process a lot of new information can be incredibly beneficial.
Speaking of coffee, the new McCafe Espresso menu is a great way to get charged up before work, or in the midst of a weekend writing session. The Hot Caramel Macchiato is a staple - dark roast espresso and milk, with caramel syrup to keep things interesting. The marketing student in me also loves the new McCafe aesthetics and branding. Stop by a participating McDonald’s near you and try any small McCafe for just $2.