Stand up, get a coffee, go for a little walk, put some laundry on, and then come back to whatever you’re trying to focus on with a clearer head.
If you know your brain works best early, get up and get it out of the way. If, like me, your brain is fuzzy for the first three hours of the day until completely saturated with caffeine, pick up the trickier tasks later in the day and get some admin out the way first thing.
I’ve lost count of how many Pinterest posts I’ve read about cultivating the perfect morning routine. But here’s the thing: your routine doesn’t need to be the same as everyone else’s! Just because everyone on Pinterest says they do 30 minutes of Yoga, eat some fruit or quinoa or some shit, and then bathe themselves in coconut oil whilst burning incense, it doesn’t mean you have to. For me, a healthy morning routine is waking up before 9am and drinking enough coffee to open my laptop without crying at my inbox, cuddling my cat, and eating some Weetos. And you know what? I earn money just like everyone else. You do you, boo.
If you’re lucky enough to work from home, these breaks can be productive things like putting laundry on or meal-prepping dinner. But if you’re office based, you’re allowed to take a moment too. Go grab a coffee, chat to someone for five minutes, or just take a second to imagine how you would murder Kim Kardashian if you were trapped in a lift together, whatever feels good and helps you relax.
This one is a non-negotiable for me. If I don’t sleep, I cannot focus. But apparently Margaret Thatcher only slept three hours per night, so you might be a superwoman (or man) too. If you are, more power to you; just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap…
They don’t have to be huge achievements every day, but it’s important to know what you want to achieve that day, so that when you do, you can give yourself a nice little pat on the back and feel fulfilled. Also, gin tastes better when you feel like you deserve it.
Not every day, that would be super unproductive. But make sure you do take holiday time when you can. Even if you’re self employed, working 100 hours a week every week isn’t healthy, and you will burn out. You can only give your best when you’ve had a charge to re-charge and focus on things that make you happy, so whether that’s a stay-cation painting the guest room, or a yoga retreat in Bali, make sure you maintain balance: all work and no play makes you an asshole.
Whether you work from home or in an office, there’s always somewhere more inspiring than your desk. So, when you’ve got a new project, need to find a solution to a problem, or you’re a creative with writer’s block, grab your notebook and a pen, and go find somewhere you can breathe, and let your mind bounce around a bit. For me, it’s sitting on the beach looking at the sea, but I appreciate that may be a long commute for some, so figure out your happy place, and go there instead!
This one is key for me. A diary full of back-to-back meetings, travel, calls and deadlines might work for some people, but for me it is overwhelming and leads to everything being done quickly, and nothing being done well. I try and stick to one or two meetings per day where possible, giving myself plenty of prep time and follow up time, and I limit the key priorities for each day to the one or two most important tasks. That way, if I get more done, bonus, but at least I haven’t set myself up to fail!
That’s always the hardest part of any project, in my opinion. It’s so easy to get in your own head and set expectations too high, and wait until everything is perfect. But life’s messy and you’re busy, with lots of shit to get done. So if something needs doing, and you’re putting it off, just start.
Wisdom bomb: Doing the thing is almost always the best way to get the thing done.
"A couple of hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. Never leave that 'til tomorrow, he said, which you can do today. This is the man who discovered electricity. You think more people would listen to what he had to say."
– Meredith Grey, 'Grey’s Anatomy'