If you find yourself missing important appointments and meetings because they were written down “in your head,” wishing you could get motivated to accomplish more of your goals and generally feeling that your life is disorganized and chaotic, you could probably benefit from adding more structure to your daily life. In fact, successful time management and the need for increased productivity often call for imposing more structure on our lives, which also offers many benefits, including reduced stress levels, a calmer mind and increased productivity. Including daily structure and organization into your life will not only help you get more accomplished but will also help to free up more time to do things you enjoy. Here are some tips and tricks to successfully add more structure and productivity to your day.
- Unclutter your living and working spaces
It’s no surprise that clutter and disorganized living and working spaces can seriously interfere with our attempts to get more organized in our daily lives. Interestingly, research shows that clutter not only interferes with our productivity by making it physically difficult to find and retrieve the objects we need, but it also interferes with our mental focus. Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have discovered that clutter competes for our attention and takes it away from the important tasks we need to accomplish, making it difficult to stay mentally focused.
- Establish a routine
Our daily rituals can go a long way in helping us get organized. If you are trying to add more structure into your day, it’s only logical that the first step is to establish a routine that works for you. For example, getting up and going to bed at the same time each day can provide the much-needed structural base to our day. Other useful habits to consider include checking your email in the morning, since reading and responding to emails can be disruptive to the productive periods later in the day, and helps to establish goals and priorities for the upcoming day.
You probably already know at what point during the day you tend to be more productive, and you should use this knowledge to your advantage. Since different types of work demand different types of energy output, you can schedule the most energy-consuming tasks during the times of the day when you have “peak” energy and creativity levels. Subsequently, you can schedule the less demanding tasks which require less mental focus around these peak intervals of activity. Optimal use of your energy resources, such as identifying the times when your creativity is highest and the probability of distractions is lowest can help you get a lot more accomplished.
- Plan your week
Taking 10-20 minutes at the end of each week to plan the week ahead is a great idea if you want to get more organized and will actually save you a lot of time in the long run. You can try sitting down in a quiet place and writing down everything that needs to be done, including work projects, assignments, as well as chores and errands. Just as we have different energy levels during the day, the week also has its energy rhythm, and you can probably predict on which days you will be most productive (For most people, this is Monday and Tuesday) and the periods during the week your work energy will somewhat diminish (Friday afternoon and weekend). Use this knowledge to your advantage and schedule the most difficult tasks for the days of the week when your energy is at its peak.
- Eliminate unnecessary time-sucking activities
Critically examining your daily routine and productivity levels can help you identify unnecessary time-consuming tasks that you could do without. Do you have a long and exhausting work commute that you could avoid by moving closer? Or, do you spend hours a day browsing the feeds of your social media accounts or watching TV series? Identifying these sources of wasted time can help you free up your schedule and get more organized.
- Create reminders to keep you on track
Fortunately, there are many useful and free tools available to help us add structure into our daily lives and stay on track. For instance, keeping an online calendar can be very helpful to keep track of your meetings and appointments, and for creating very clear deadlines for the projects and tasks you need to get done.
When trying to maximize your productivity and add more structure to your day, caffeine can be very helpful in providing that much-needed jolt of energy. According to scientific studies, caffeine can help increase our memory function and attention span, which can go a long way if you are trying to get more structure into your daily routine. Although excessive caffeine intake can have some adverse effects on our health, moderate coffee or caffeine consumption has many significant health benefits, including protecting the brain from disease and decreasing the risk of certain types of cancer.
- Review your day before going to bed
The peaceful moments before falling asleep provide us with the best opportunity to revise our day, critically examine our accomplishments, and find room for potential improvements. Did you find yourself wasting significant amounts of time on tasks that were not necessary instead of accomplishing your goals? Is there an item on your to-do list that you keep bumping to the next day? Reviewing your day before going to bed can also be helpful to reflect upon the tasks you enjoyed doing to help you be grateful for each day.
Want even more tips? This article could help boost your brain power to get through your busy day:
Eugenia Petoukhov is a Canadian-based researcher and scientific writer. She is particularly interested in the inner workings of the brain, as well as in molecular and experimental medicine.
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