In this post, I will give you my three most important tips on how I make the most out of the 24 hours we have every day. To put it in a nutshell they are:
- Always wake up with an alarm
- Write down your three most vital tasks before you go to sleep
- Schedule and prioritize your time
Always wake up with an alarm
According to the majority of research, seven to eight hours of sleep are necessary to maximize productivity. Sleeping less leads to a loss of mental clarity and brainpower, but can also lead to a loss of well-being as well as a lack of regeneration. There are many more reasons why you should sleep enough. Thus, having enough sleep is crucial in order to make the most out of your day in the long-run.
Nevertheless, I would rank “always getting up early with an alarm clock” among the top three of my most significant habits in terms of productivity. When you win the battle with the alarm, you have already almost won your day. This first achievement of the new day gives you the power over your life and time budget. In my view, it is a massive gain of freedom when you have the discipline to wake up whenever you want to. It allows you to design the life you want to.
Most people have the discipline to wake up early when others make them to do so
Most people around the globe, though, only wake up with an alarm when they are forced by external circumstances. It is pretty common for most of us to wake up with an alarm clock from Monday to Friday because of work or school. At the weekend, however, most people do not even think about setting an alarm. I think this is pretty sad. Most people have the discipline to wake up early when others make them do so. They let others determine how their days are designed. As a result, the majority of their life is dictated by other people. But when it comes to schedule the time on weekends, most of us do not have the discipline to create a life they desire.
It is not necessarily about waking up early
In my opinion, the most important part of this habit is that you limit your sleep to an average of seven to eight hours per day and make setting an alarm every day a fixed component of your life. It is not necessarily about waking up early, but rather it is about gaining control over the limited time you are given in your life and make the most out of it. When you partied till 3 am, you do not have to set an alarm at 8 am. The goal is to set an alarm that allows you to sufficiently regenerate but prevents you to oversleep. Every minute overslept is a wasted minute of an invaluable lifetime.
I wake up every day at 7 am even when I would only get three hours of sleep after a long party night. I do not want to persuade you to adopt such a habit, because it has some requirements that the majority of us do not meet in order to make it as a gain in productivity and happiness as I perceive it. If you are interested in the reasoning behind this habit, click here to read more about it.
Write down your three most vital tasks before you go to sleep
As an integral part of my evening routine, I always reflect on the past day as well as prepare myself for the upcoming 24 hours. One meaningful part of this is to think about the three most vital tasks/events of the next day. This has several reasons:
- It helps me to prioritize my schedule
- Doing it before going to sleep allows my subconscious to work on a solution for problems overnight
- People writing down their goals are from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals
- Supports scheduling my day the next day
It takes about three minutes to accomplish, but the effect is enormous. Since I started this habit, I have been able to accomplish more in less time and set myself even bigger goals. This habit allows me to break big goals into smaller ones since I am forced to think about what is possible the next day and what is not. Moreover, it helps to prioritize.
What is most important about this habit is the process itself and not the outcome. The three minutes you spent on thinking about tomorrow makes you more conscious about your scarce lifetime and to value you it more. Actually, I do not only write down goals or challenges, but rather upcoming events or activities. For instance, when there is a party, meeting with friends or a particular gym session the next day and this might be one of the most important activities the next day, I set those as one of “the most vital tasks of tomorrow”. By doing this, I think about how I can make this even better. How can I make the most out of this party, meeting or workout; how can I improve this part of my life even more. What can I do to enjoy this time more? The process itself leads to a more conscious decision-making process and, eventually, helps me to achieve the happiest and most fulfilled life I can have.
Schedule your day after waking up
It is no wonder that the great achievers of our century precisely schedule their day. It makes it possible to prioritize and focus as well as become conscious about what matters this day.
Every morning when I wake up, I take my bullet journal (a kind of significantly expanded to-do list book) and think about what I have to accomplish today, what is upcoming, how long each of the entries approximately takes and in which order I want to deal with them (prioritization). The goals I set myself in the night before that day is, of course, part of it. In the following picture, you can see today’s schedule:
Today is a rest day, this there is no workout scheduled. Moreover, as I hung out with friends a lot in the past days, I did not schedule something I could do with them, but I also usually include “free time activities” in my schedule.
As you can see, I prioritized my tasks (starting with writing this article) and estimated the time takes me to accomplish them. Having an estimate of how long they take helps me a lot to keep focused and stick to my plan. I do not like wasting time when I have an ongoing task.
This scheduling activity takes about 5 minutes in the morning and it is definitely worth the effort. Additionally, it is a dynamic process. If I find out that a task is not that important anymore or there is an incident, I will adjust the plan. However, I usually do not deviate from my schedule. Forcing myself to stick to it, helps me to stay focused. For me, there are not many things that make me feel more satisfied than having a fully accomplished schedule.
All in all, these three habits greatly contribute to a more efficient and productive life. I can only highly recommend trying it out for yourself. However, do not overtax yourself and be patient. All these habits show their real benefit after a certain time of practicing them (approx. at least a month).
Let me know if you want to know more about my evening or morning routines as well as if you have remarks, feedback or questions. Highly appreciated!
All the best to you and yours,