Most people have had the experience of seeing their day disappear, of "wasting time," with television or the internet and then wondering where the hours went, before they feel like they've gotten a chance to accomplish their plans. Many people feel like their lives are very busy and would like to accomplish more in their day.
Fortunately, there is a secret weapon to dramatically increasing your productivity – routine. By setting routines and scheduling time for the same thing at the same time every day, you can dramatically increase your ability to get things done.
Here's how to unlock the power of routine to increase your productivity, and why it works so well for many different people.
Getting off to a good start in your day
It can be hard to get off to a good start during the day. Many people just wake up as quickly as possible, shower, and grab a quick bit before heading out to work, or, if they have a day off, zoning out to computer activities or other time wasters, and not accomplishing.
In either case, our natural tendency may be to just jump straight into whatever feels urgent, and then procrastinate on whatever we feel like we can wait on. Having a morning routine, a time for prayer, meditation, exercise, or some other enjoyable, centering activity, helps regulate our lives and give purpose to our day.
Following that, you can approach the day with a clear head, thinking about the time you have, the things you must do, and the things you would like to accomplish. This moves directly into one of the best routines that can make the biggest difference.
The first step – capture
One of the biggest productivity killers is moving without a plan. If you simply jump spontaneously from one project to the next as you think of it, you can end up with a lot of wasted time, because your mind will invariably take your mind off whatever you are doing and think about everything else you have to accomplish.
That's why it's important to do everything you can to focus your energy on only one thing at a time. Before you actually do anything else, collect all the ideas, commitments, and checklist items you need to do, and write it all down in one list.
Then break it down into simply, manageable pieces, and figure out a time and a place to work on that one task, and nothing else. This is one simple routine helps to organize and clarify your time, and will help you move through the rest of your day knowing what you need to do.
The Pomodoro technique
Pomodoro literally means "tomato" in Italian, and was named to honor the tomato-shaped kitchen time FrancesscoCirillo used in inventing the system. Essentially, you work for 25 minutes, taking a 5 minute break after each segment, and then a 30 minute break after four segments.
There are many different variations and alternative methods, but all of them regulate your time on the principle of working non-stop for a set period, and then doing an alternative activity as a way to break it up. This sets up a pattern of routines, of spending set amounts of time to work on different projects or different ideas.
The human brain naturally can only handle focusing on one thing for so long, before you will start to loose focus and either get distracted or produce work of less quality. So setting up a pattern of working on something, and then not working on it gives you a set space to devote all your mental energy, and therefore using the time you have at maximum productivity.