Three simple methods that will bring order to even the most chaotic rhythm of life.
Much has been written about productivity and productivity. But the vast majority of tips are created with the traditional workday in mind: they’re designed for office workers who sit and write paper at a desk from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week.
But the thing is, many of us don’t work a structured schedule – freelancers and remote freelancers, for example. And those who sit in traditional full-time jobs don’t always do the same amount of work at the same time each week.
So what about those whose work schedule differs from what they’re used to? It’s simple: create your own schedule that’s right for them.
Why a daily schedule is necessary
The brain works best when it’s in a well-established mode.
Many successful people have been known to follow the same routine every day and perform the same rituals.
“In capable hands,” writes Mason Curry in his book “Mode of Genius. “The routines of great men,” daily routines are a finely calibrated mechanism for making the best use of our limited resources: primarily time, which we most lack, but also willpower, self-discipline, and optimism.
Creating a proper daily routine can help you increase your productivity many times over.
A daily routine is more effective than a strong will
Many people believe that being productive is a consequence of a strong will. “Just sit down and get busy,” they say. Yes, willpower can help you become more productive, but it is a limited resource. If you work solely through willpower (and, besides work, this resource is consumed in many other places, like school or the gym), you can’t avoid burnout and loss of energy.
A daily schedule is a more stable and constant motivator than the will, because it does not require any extra effort from you. The will is needed to create something beyond your normal accomplishments. And with an established mode of operation, you just go along like clockwork, without overexerting yourself. That way you save more energy for really challenging and creative work.
A daily routine reduces the need for planning
When you do a similar set of activities each day, you unload your brain, freeing it from the need to plan the next steps. Why come up with something when you already have a well-established algorithm? Here’s what you have as a result:
Less decision-making fatigue and therefore less stress.
Easier to get into a state of “flow,” where productivity increases many times over.
If your mind is not forced to make decisions about what to do next, it can concentrate more effectively on what you are doing now.
How to maintain productivity for people with unregulated schedules
- Create a routine in the non-work part of your life
Work is not the only part of your life that you should bring order to. Everything you do, from eating to working out, can be subjected to a regimen. At the very least, you should start by creating daily morning and evening rituals that get you in the right frame of mind.
Janessa Lantz, editor of HubSpot, recommends doing the same ritual every time before you start, such as taking a shower.
When you work at home on a regular basis, it’s worth developing the healthy habit of taking a shower and getting dressed before you sit down at the computer. That way it’s as if you’re telling yourself, “The work day has begun!” And when you put on your pajamas in the evening, you signal yourself, “The work day is over!”
Create a steady routine for the day, and it will be easier to fit new work tasks into it as they arise. That’s why writer Barbara Boyd, for example, advises following the same routine regardless of your current workload.
I try to stick to a certain routine regardless of whether I have a lot of work or little work. I always use the time strictly set aside for work, and when work tasks are not available, I can devote it to chores or creativity. So in my schedule, certain times are always marked “Work” – whether I’m writing for a fee or painting the kitchen.
- Ritualized Work
For people with unregulated schedules, it’s important to create rituals around your work to separate it from your free time. Develop cues that tell your brain when it’s time to start working and when to interrupt.
Create a workspace. Work in the same place in your home and do nothing else there.
Always listen to the same music (or background noise) while you work.
Set a time limit. Stop working when it’s a certain time of day.
I’m a freelance writer, and I have one thing I use to switch my brain into work mode: headphones. I can’t write anything unless I’m wearing them, even if the music isn’t playing. And I rarely use them when I’m not working. So every time I plug in my headphones, my brain knows it’s time to write.
- Stick to your own routine.
You’ll find that sticking to a routine only helps you be more productive if it correlates with your own rhythms. This is why studying the rituals and habits of famous personalities like Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein is interesting, but not particularly useful to put into practice. What worked perfectly for them won’t necessarily be right for you.
Katharina Wolf, a biologist and Oxford University expert on chronobiology and sleep, says that changing sleep patterns doesn’t have a very positive effect on cognitive ability.
People who stick to their usual sleep patterns feel better about themselves. They are more productive than those who try to outdo themselves.
So if you’re an owl, there’s no point trying to get out of bed at four in the morning just because that’s what Tim Cook does. If you can, adjust your schedule to your own circadian rhythms.