The most realistic advice when it comes to productivity
Wake up at 5 a.m. Meditate. Journal. Move your body. Drink a green smoothie. Take a handful of supplements. Cut out sugar. Cut out alcohol. Hustle (and side hustle) until nightfall. Go to sleep, wake up and repeat.
This is the kind of regime we’re hearing from all the major business leaders, influencers and podcasters when it comes to health, wellness and productivity and how they correlate. While truthfully, we’re proponents of much of the above, we know it can sound a little intimidating if you’re just starting out.
If you’re looking to be more productive but are feeling a little overwhelmed – you’ve come to the right place. We’ve broken it down to allow you to tap into your motivation with the most realistic advice when it comes to productivity.
Get to know yourself – what do you want to achieve?
The fact of the matter is most of us are not working our dream job. Whether it’s the typical 9-5 corporate career that’s stifling your creativity or numerous gig economy jobs that run you off your feet, we see you and know you’ve got a lot on your plate. When you’re working just to get by or pay off debts, it’s hard to feel motivated in what downtime you have left.
And if you’re not being fulfilled with your work, it’s easy to look for a quick hit of dopamine from less than ideal sources, like Instagram, a sweet treat, or Netflix, instead of addressing the underlying issue – you’re meant for so much more.
It’s time to sit down with yourself without the usual distractions. What lights you up? What is your passion? What is it that you want to achieve? Every single person on this earth has a unique gift to share, and it would be a shame to see it go untapped. If you can figure out what your soul wants you to know, it will make that early wake-up or your 5-9 hustle so much easier.
Set realistic, specific goals
Many of us face a problem: once we realize our goal, we leave it at that and don’t pursue it any further. As an example, a few years ago, we said, “We want to build a successful creative agency.”
But to achieve that goal, we had to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. We had to test and learn and try and fail, or we would have never been able to launch the agency.
This is where the not-so-fun part of goal setting comes in. Take your goal and break it into smaller achievements, with dates and targets attached to each specific piece. Once you slowly and surely start hitting those goalposts, work in mini celebrations and little rewards – a trip to your favourite coffee shop, a day at the beach, or a nice dinner with friends. Release that dopamine (naturally), baby!
Now, we get to the toughest part – how to stay consistent and disciplined. You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again: consistency is key. And there isn’t a “productivity hack” in the world that will replace it.
As with most things in this article, this is easier said than done. But, if it were easy, everyone would do it. So, here are our tried and tested best tips to stay consistent:
Physical to-do lists
When in doubt, write it out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with what you need to do in a day, writing a physical list is a huge help. The act of crossing something off your list is gratifying and gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. And if you ever have trouble sleeping because of stress, writing the list before bed can ease any anxiety that you’ll forget to do something the next day.
Early to bed, early to rise
This may be hard for the night owls to hear. Even if you work better at night, our society typically rewards the early bird.
If you’re not sold, look at it this way: the morning presents an uninterrupted opportunity to work on what lights you up before you get into the nitty-gritty of your daily responsibilities. It’s a time that’s all yours, and nothing can take that away from you.
Find and build a morning routine that works best for you, and remember it doesn’t need to be extensive at all. It could be as simple as breath work, a walk to stretch your legs, or a morning coffee date – but whatever it is, you’ll be setting the tone for your entire day.
Take care of your mental and physical health
In today’s modern tech-first world, taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical well-being.
Meditation is having a moment right now and it’s for a good reason! Apps like Calm and Headspace are great tools to help beginners get into the habit of meditation and reap the benefits. Taking five minutes out of your day to declutter your brain can leave you feeling less anxious and create more space for big ideas.
Things like walk breaks, time spent in nature, and relaxing with the people you love can also positively impact your overall well-being, so try to schedule those feel-good moments to look forward to throughout your week.
Take everything in stride
If you have a big win, it’s great (and human) to celebrate and enjoy yourself. But you’re also going to have some truly crappy days, and that’s OK too. Try to feel your feelings because if you don’t, they might just surface in some ugly ways.
If something good happens, do your happy dance. But if something bad happens, take five minutes to freak out and curse if you must. Just don’t let it ruin your entire day.
Limit drugs and/or alcohol
The pandemic saw the unprecedented consumption of alcohol in Canada. And, for every store that shuttered its doors during the lockdown, it seemed like a new cannabis store opened. We’re not saying don’t indulge (if it comes from the ground – it’s good with us!). But, overindulging can and will take a toll on your creative output.
Discipline = freedom
Like many millennials, we used to think that doing whatever we wanted was the ultimate freedom. But in reality, a toxic lifestyle prohibits you from focusing on what matters to you.
If you’re feeling a little lost, you can always check in with yourself and realign with your values to determine if you’re current activities are contributing to the bigger picture. If they don’t – and you experience a bit of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – you can take comfort knowing that it’s only temporary. The discipline now will make celebrating your next milestone even more memorable.
We know you have big ideas, and the world needs to see them. But if you’re just starting to find your path, you’re probably going to slip up a few times, so don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all simply trying our best in still very challenging times.
So above all else, be kind to yourself and others. Regardless of what happens, just remember that failing at something (and learning) is better than never starting at all.