Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I’ve heard many people complain that routines are straightjackets. Yet anyone who has been around a small child for extended periods knows the power of a bedtime routine.
In fact, bedtime routines are suggested for adults who are having trouble sleeping. Why? Because a repeatable set of actions before bedtime creates a mindset that allows for the onset of sleep.
Creating A Ritual
We can harness this power by creating a productivity ritual that will take you quickly into a productive space for any task. Here’s how:
Clear The Mind
The first step is to start gearing the mind toward the task at hand. A big hindrance to this is all the information and one-offs that are floating through your head.
It is best to write those thoughts, tasks, and bits of information down on a piece of paper that can be processed at a later time. If you make a habit of writing things down, and then processing those things later, your brain will trust that nothing will be lost and can let go of those tasks. Make sure to put a date on the piece of paper, so you have a frame of reference for items that have a specific date like tomorrow or Friday.
This can include things like “pick up the dry cleaning tomorrow”, “add raisins to the shopping list”, “talk to Joe about project A’s backup plan” and “schedule car inspection.”
As you gear up on your task, it is also good to keep a blank sheet of paper near you to jot down those things that occur to you as you work. Chances are you won’t have gotten everything out before you start your task.
Next up, we want to set the stage for doing your most productive work. The first part of this is to gather any material you need. Nothing can jar you out of a working mindset faster than having to stop and look for something you need.
Make sure your materials are available and usable. Your pencils should be sharpened or loaded with lead; your computer should be booted up and plugged in or fully charged; or your paintbrushes should be clean and dry. It is hard to get into a flow mindset if you have to stop and reload your stapler.
As a corrolary to this, remove anything from your working area that may impede your productivity. Clear your desk of bills if you are working on a scrapbooking project. Wash the dishes if you are trying to purge the cabinets and need the counter space to work. Taking care of hindrances means you won’t have to stop once you get started on your activity.
Reset And Shift
The next part is one that is overlooked, but essential. Take a moment and do something to reset your mind so that it is ready to go to the next task.
Running from task to task with nary a breath in between leads to sloppy boundaries, and some bleed-over between tasks. Find some symbolic physical activity to signal to your mind that you are about to shift gears.
This can include things like washing your hands (which I do every evening before leaving work to remind myself to leave the work in the office), or moving to a new physical space in your house. One person I know who worked from home took a walk around the block every morning to signal that she was going to start work.
Do Your Activity
Once you have done these routine actions, you should be in a good space to start your focused work.
Do you have any rituals that spur productivity? Or additional steps? Share below.
Photo by jason ilagan. Licensed under Creative Commons.