How to get the most out of your day: An efficiency guide

By Grace Duffy / July 8, 2021
efficiency guide

So, you want to get organised but don’t know where to start? In this short guide, we’re going to tell you how to become more efficient and the various methods that will help get you started. 

Let’s get to it. 

efficiency guide

Plan out your day 

This seems the most basic way of becoming more efficient, yet so many people struggle to successfully lay out, and stick to, a schedule, long term. By planning out your day, you get to make the most of your precious time and it helps you to see just how much time has been wasted through procrastination. A tip, when doing this, is to always be realistic when it comes to making a to-do list. People fall into the trap of trying to cram as many things in as they possibly can and are left feeling disappointed when they’ve only accomplished 4 out of the 12 tasks they set for themselves that day. Relax! You’re human, remember. 

It is also best to separate tasks that are similar so that you are not tempted to do them all at once. For example, too much sitting down in the same place can be boring and lead to a person seeking distraction. Therefore, to avoid burnout, you should mix things up with, perhaps, exercise in the morning, desk time afterwards, then move around again and do another task that takes you away from your laptop or phone.

This way you have had a series of mini-breaks from your screen, which will allow you to look at your work with fresh eyes and you’ve been able to get some exercise in. This is essential to becoming more productive as it helps to clear your mind. 

 

No multitasking

It has become all too common for people to get wrapped up in the idea that, to get more work done, you must do two things at once. Multitasking pulls people in too many different directions which only causes them to focus half of their attention on a task and can actually eat up more time than it’s worth. Therefore, to avoid this common pitfall, you must be cutthroat with your tasks and dedicate yourself to focusing on one thing at a time.

efficiency guide

Use pen and paper

A surprising tactic, but one that can help kickstart your journey to a more efficient lifestyle, is to use reliable old pen and paper for your to-do list. After all, it is an excuse to buy new stationery, and who doesn’t love crossing things off a list. Whilst there are many wonderful online planners and apps, it has been discovered that physically writing out your plans and goals has some surprising benefits. 

The first being that you are less distracted, it can help to improve your concentration, and those who write out their tasks are more likely to complete them. It can also be therapeutic for people who feel overwhelmed by pouring out all of their thoughts, stresses, and tasks onto the blank page. You can effectively start to separate those jobs which require your immediate attention from those that don’t, thereby improving your efficiency. 

Pomodoro technique

Another great way of getting the most out of your day is by using the pomodoro technique. This is done by picking one task, such as a report for work or cleaning your room, and setting a timer for 25 minutes. In these 25 minutes, you dedicate yourself entirely to that task and, when the timer is up, you take a 5-minute break. This has been proven to increase work efficiency as people tend to become overwhelmed at the idea of a large piece of work and so this method helps to break it down into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

This method also acts as a springboard and encourages people to carry on with an additional 25 minutes. The other bonus is that, because it’s less than 30 minutes, you’ll be finished with your task before your brain has had a chance to switch off. 

efficiency guide

Meditation

Meditation has long been hailed for its calming effects and, more recently, as an effective tool towards leading a more productive and satisfying life. With a calm mind, you are able to think more clearly, focus your attention, reduce stress, and enhance your creativity. And the best part? It’s free! Meditation is also easy to do in that you can meditate whenever and for however long you want, depending on your mood.

Putting aside just 5 minutes a day for meditation could help you to recall tasks or commitments that you would have forgotten about had you been in a rush, and can set you up for the day. Can you say “Om”?

Say no to things

A major disruptor to efficiency is in our inability to say no to things and the amount of screen time we consume. It can be tough to ignore, after all, they don’t call it the fear of missing out for nothing, and, when your phone is pinging away at all hours of the day and night, it can wreak havoc with even the best-laid plans. Given that the blue light from our screens can disrupt our natural circadian rhythm, it is best to stop using your phone at least 30 minutes before bed so as to prepare your body for sleep.

To stay on track with your plans, it is also wise to turn off notifications on as many apps as possible. Yes, there are times when it is an important email from work or a call from a family member, but do you really need to know when someone reacted to your photo? If you can streamline the amount of time you spend on your phone, you can wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead. 

efficiency guide

Reward productivity

As the saying goes, “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy” and so, if you want to maximise your efficiency in life, then you need to know when to relax. After all, there is only so much work the human body can take before it crashes. The trick is learning to balance both work and play so that you avoid going overboard on the rewards and binge-watch a series for 3 days straight.

A reward could be something small, like going for a swim, painting, practicing that song you’ve been aching to play on the guitar since Christmas, or even just watching an episode of Love Island. Whatever you’re into. By doing this, you associate hard work with a positive feeling at the end and a sense of satisfaction which will then encourage you to carry on with the cycle of efficiency. 

Absorb new habits one at a time

Lastly, it is all too common for people to try and reinvent their entire lifestyle overnight only to fall off the wagon a week later. If this sounds familiar, then you know what I’m talking about. To stop this from happening, you need to pick one habit at a time and, once you have established that firmly into your routine, absorb another habit. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, perhaps do not overhaul your entire diet and add in an intense exercise regime.

Instead, you could start small with a simple action, such as cutting out snacks and fizzy drinks or going for a walk every evening. Or perhaps, if you are trying to make more time for hobbies, you could batch cook meals on the weekend and freeze them so that you have some extra time in the evening. Consistency is the key to achieving your goals, not sporadic bursts of motivation, so it’s important to remember this if you want to be efficient. 

This ends our efficiency guide on how to get the most out of your day. Perhaps you could try some of these and let me know in the comments below if you have found them to be useful. 

 

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About the author

Grace Duffy

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