5 Easy Everyday Habits to Increase Your Productivity 

Author Laura Vanderkam dishes on five tiny changes to make to get more done in the day.

As I type this, it is 1 p.m. on Monday and I’m sure many of us already feel like our week has gotten away from us. It happens to the best of us: You oversleep, then the first thing you do when you wake up is look at Instagram, only to realize 30 minutes later — deep into the social media presence of “that guy who was on an episode of Friday Night Lights once” — that you’re about to be late to a meeting with your boss. Cue Monday-morning breakdown that derails your entire day.

Trust me, I have been there.

This is where the advice of Laura Vanderkam comes in. She’s the brains behind time-management and productivity books I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, and she is a vault of knowledge when it comes to upping productivity and avoiding feelings of “Holy crap, how did I waste the entire morning? AGAIN?!”

Vanderkam has spent many an hour researching how successful people squeeze as much as they do into a day, and she’ll be sharing her secrets to becoming the master of your time and living your best life, based on all that research, with us during her Empower Hour talk at this year’s Be Well Philly Boot Camp, our ladies-only day of all things wellness, going down Saturday, June 3rd. But because it’s Monday and Mondays are hard, today she’s sharing with us five tiny everyday tweaks we can all make to be way more productive this week. Check out Vanderkam’s super-useful tips below, then act accordingly.

»» Haven’t gotten your ticket to Be Well Philly Boot Camp yet? You can snag your spot to our annual wellness and fitness fest for women here!

1. Get a real alarm clock. 
“Most people use their smart phones as an alarm clock, but this is a bad idea for several reasons. First, it means your phone is in your bedroom with you (where you’ll be tempted to look at alerts when you should be sleeping!). Second, the snooze function is really easy, which makes it easy to snooze. Hitting the snooze button is almost never a good way to start the morning. And finally, when you do turn off your alarm, your smart phone will be in hand, so you’ll likely check email first thing, rather than starting the day with something more productive. Get a real, dumb, alarm clock that you have to reset to snooze. Then put it across your room so you have to get up to turn it off. Your mornings will go much more smoothly.”

2. Give yourself a bedtime. 
“Going to bed on time is how grown-ups sleep in. Count back the number of hours you need to sleep from the time you need to wake up in the morning. This is your bedtime. You can blow through it of course — you are a grown-up! — but knowing the time means you need to justify to yourself why you’re staying up later. If there’s a good reason, great. If not, go to bed.”

3. Track books and workouts. 
“When I ask what people want to spend more time doing, ‘exercise’ and ‘reading’ tend to come up most frequently. What gets measured gets done. So create a log of workouts completed and books read. You’ll probably like seeing both lists grow, which will nudge you to devote more time to these activities.”

4. Write tomorrow’s to-do list by quitting time. 
“We tend to be more focused in the morning, so if you know what your top priority tasks are for any given day, you can spend your energy on execution, rather than deciding what deserves your attention (and mistaking your inbox for your priority list). Making a to-do list for tomorrow is a good way to wind down any given workday. Even if something is undone, you know when it will get done, which can help you relax at night.”

5. Reach out to one person daily. 
“We all know we should spend more time networking, but it’s tough to make it a priority. So build the habit of sending one ‘How are you?’ or ‘I admire your work’ or ‘Let’s get together’ or ‘My colleague Joan suggested I reach out to you…’ email daily. Five a week is 250 per work year. If 10 percent of those result in lasting connections, that’s a major boost to a network right there.”

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