Top 5 To-Dos Before 9am to Kickstart a Productive Day
Summer is in the air! In New England, we’re just days away from ending our school year. For some, school vacation is a time when you can slow down and relax. For others, it can be a mix of relief and stress. Our schedules have changed with kids having less structured time in school, and parents are often balancing a variety of different camp schedules or sorting out having little to no schedule at all. As a result, we may experience the inverted effect of a “relaxing summer”, where us adults need to be even more productive, so that we can be available to pick up from camp, or simply enjoy those bits of summer outside of our daily work schedule.
As a new business owner, over the last few months I have been asked “How are things going?” my cheerful response is: “Great! I only wish there were more hours in the day!” Well, the fact of the matter is my friends, there are no more hours. Just 24 to be exact. Taking a hard look at my day, I had to think about how to make the most of my time. The organizer side of me immediately time blocked and color coded every waking hour. I was proud! Not only was it visually stimulating, but it was efficient! Kudos to me. Well, then I tried it — and while it worked well, I didn’t account for the “variables”. Variables being: sick kids, unexpected phone calls and technical difficulties to name a few. While none of these are catastrophic, I had to remember that I needed to loosen up a bit — these things will happen.
In my quest to be “productive” and create some continuity even with school vacation approaching, I did a little research and shifted my focus to a few key areas where I could regularly have control and start my day off productively. My organizing-self felt better already! During the mornings, I focused on 5 achievable to-dos before 9:00am, which not only helped me feel organized and in-control, but also set the pace for a smoother day.
1. Make a list the night before
I once asked my husband’s grandmother, a former cover model who raised 9 children, “Grandma, how did you do it raising NINE kids?” Her response was, “A lot of patience and a lot of love.” I paused, while that was nice…it wasn’t the concrete answer I expected. She knew it too. She then followed up and said “Well, I made lists. Every night.” Grandma is right. By making lists of goals and to-dos the night before, you can easily roll into your day and begin tackling them. And if you like to check the box, which I do, it provides great satisfaction to cross out a few items as you start your day.
2. Make your bed
It’s somewhat ceremonious but also just a good practice to start each day by making your bed. In the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Duhigg writes that making your bed can lead to a productive day, which is driven by a chain of good decisions. Plus, who doesn’t like to get into crisp sheets at the end of a long day?. I do!
3. Carve out 30 minutes of alone time
Wake up early enough where you can have 30 minutes of time to yourself. Yes, I said it TIME TO YOURSELF! Use that time to review the list you made the night before, send emails prior to the day, and even have a coffee in quiet. Perhaps a full cup! If you’re a morning exerciser, get a workout in. Confession: I’m still working on getting better at morning exercise, myself.
4. Do one household chore before you start off on your day
Similar to making your bed, set the pace for the day by completing one household chore. For me, I make sure to unload the dishwasher every morning. It helps to avoid the backlog of breakfast dishes, which eventually I’d have to clean up. Run your dishwasher in the morning? Then perhaps fold a load of laundry or tidy up a space in your home. In any case, pick one, and you’ll feel better at the end of the day.
5. Leave your space the way you want to return to it
In the same vein as unloading the dishwasher, take the necessary steps to leave your home the way you want to return to it. Try to leave enough time before you dash out, or head to your home office to wipe down crumb-filled or sticky post-breakfast tables and counters. This way, when you return after a long day, you can transition to what’s next, rather than playing catch up from the morning.
See! Easy peasy. It only takes a few changes to make a big difference to kickstart a more productive day. With those morning achievements under your belt, you’re starting the day off on the right track. Now go get your summer vacation on. You got this!