Many entrepreneurs use morning and nighttime rituals to help unlock their potential. Finding the routines that work best for you will help you turbo-charge your productivity, efficiency and well-being.
However, simply winding down well at night and preparing for work in the morning doesn’t ensure you’ll have a killer productive day. Eight or more hours of work can be grueling, no matter how well rested you are.
Here are five specific things to do in the hours before work that will help you streamline productivity and achieve success all day long:
1. Do something that builds energy and positivity.
It takes serious energy to sit down for hours on end and chip away at your task list. Showing up to work feeling positive and energetic goes a long way towards a sustainable day that doesn’t crash halfway through.
At night, before drifting off to sleep, or in the morning, right before work, I like to write down things I am thankful for. It doesn’t have to be a comprehensive list. You might want to list only three items. What I’ve noticed is that, especially after consistently doing this for months, you wake up more thankful for what you have, which boosts energy.
There are other things you can try that build positivity before work. Try a morning run or listen to energetic music. Talk with a loved one or eat a tasty breakfast. Taking at least a few minutes to get into a good frame of mind gets work off to a stronger start and keeps you going throughout the day.
2. Have everything around you that you need to create productivity.
There’s nothing worse than sitting down to get to work, or being 30 minutes into high productivity mode, and then realizing you’re missing something crucial. Being interrupted, whether it’s by hunger, lethargy, needing to use the bathroom, or missing an important document, can be a frustrating and disheartening experience.
Get into the habit of checking to ensure you have coffee, food, water, or whatever else you need for the day now to prevent these interruptions from forcing you off task. Think ahead to what the day will have in store and set out whatever you need in your immediate vicinity so that you can continuously work hard without unnecessary distractions.
3. Pick the right space.
If you want to increase the length of time you’re able to give to uninterrupted work, take a few extra minutes now to find or create the right physical space.
I always imagine myself doing what I need to get done in a given space. When I cannot picture doing my work there, I choose a different spot. I might struggle to be highly creative while working in a bland cubicle, for example. By the same token, when I have to go through emails and work on relatively mind-numbing tasks, I enjoy going to cafés in order to feed off of the energy around me.
4. Plan the day and set daily productivity goals for yourself.
As much as you might want to jump right into your work and achieve that feeling of accomplishment, take a few minutes to map out the day before you dig in.
Doing so helps you both prioritize tasks and motivate yourself to move more quickly. If I tell myself I want to accomplish a specific task by a given time in the day, for example, I may shift what I’m working on in order to help me reach the goal most efficiently.
When it comes to prioritizing tasks at the start of the day, it’s easy to emphasize simple items that don’t require much energy. Instead, go for the most critical items on the to-do list first. Perhaps you can break them up with a less intense item, like answering emails. This will help you allocate energy towards tasks that deliver the biggest return of investment.
5. Clear your mind of all thought.
If you sit down to work on a report for your boss but find yourself thinking every few minutes about other tasks, colleagues you need to speak with, or your kids at school, your productivity takes a drastic hit.
Maximum productivity happens when you can focus full attention and energy on the task at hand. To do this, clear your mind before you start working.
Simply writing down the items you need to complete that day can clear your mind. Also, meditation is an effective option. Sit and do nothing for even just a couple minutes before you start work. Slowly build up that number of minutes to 20. I once did a three-day retreat in which I didn’t talk at all. If you stay consistent, it won’t be long before your more relaxed mind can set you up for a higher-output, more focused day.