Setting up a regular routine will help you improve your concentration, keep you organised and enable you to maintain a high productivity level.
Time tables, notes, reminders, lists – these are just some of the tactics you may already know about but will they help you get the job done if you don’t turn them into a habit?
Especially in distracting settings, you will need all the help you can get to keep your focus, concentrate on the work at hand, and organise yourself into a successful online career.
It all starts in the beginning
The beginning of your day, that is!
If you follow a “morning routine” every day, you can create a short ritual (under 30 minutes) where you can complete a number of small habits that can improve your concentration and performance.
The trick here is knowing which habits to include in your morning routine!
Start your day with the thing that will help keep you focused for most, if not for the entire duration, of the day.
Drink your cup of piping hot coffee, read the newspaper, check your notifications on social media – whatever it is, do it.
What happens during your first hours will usually dictate the way the rest of the day will go so make sure to begin it in the right way.
Following are suggested habits that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you get you started in the right way, every day.
Habit 1: Let the natural light in
Remember when your parents would come into your room and open the blinds?
While it may not be fun to wake up to, natural light does help you get started on the right foot.
Natural light has a number of different advantages, including:
- Aiding in mood and perception
- Enabling the performance of tasks
- Controlling the body’s Circadian system
This tip is only helpful if the sun is up, but it’s an essential one that you should turn into a regular habit.
At the very least, it helps you lower your power bills because you’re not using as much light during the day.
Habit 2: Fix your broken windows
No, you don’t have any actual broken windows, but you probably have a number of small things that add to your stress levels if you don’t address them early on.
Some common broken windows include:
- Unmade beds
- Cluttered mail
- Unsorted laundry
- Messy kitchen
- Trash that needs to be taken out
Most of these can be fixed in a matter of minutes, yet we allow ourselves to ignore them and let them sit in the back of our minds for the rest of the day.
Take care of your broken windows and then you’ll see a dramatic decrease in your levels of stress.
Habit 3: Recite your favourite affirmation
Sometimes you just have to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are capable of tackling the world.
We spend too much time focusing on what we can’t do and not enough time building up our self-esteem.
Being an online worker is a challenging career path so take a minute to tell yourself these phrases:
- “I am a generous person”
- “I am making a difference in the world”
- “I will accomplish my goals today”
When you speak phrases like this, you begin to believe just how much you can accomplish.
Stand tall and look in the mirror before speaking. Nothing can hold you back!
On a personal note my favourite affirmation is “Stay true” as it helps me focus on the project that I have at hand without spiralling down into a mire of self-doubt.
The affirmation comes in the form of a beautiful paper postcard that sits on my desk, just next to my computer. It’s a nice reminder that is also subtle! No one else except me (and now you!) knows how much it means to me personally.
If you feel inspired in the same way, you can buy your own copy of the postcard here – https://hammerpress.net/products/pc078
Habit 4: Have a mint
Mints can do more than just freshen your breath.
You can suck on an Altoid, chew some strong mint-flavoured gum, brush your teeth with mint toothpaste, have a cup of peppermint tea or dab some peppermint essential oil under your nostrils if you want; the choice is up to you.
The reason you want to do something with mint is because it:
- Increases mental alertness
- Is a natural stimulant
- Helps with memory loss
Mint can be used in a number of different ways, and how you choose to use it will change what it does.
I know that chewing gum is not everyone’s personal preference but I use it only when I’m at work and trying to concentrate on something super-important.
I was told by a dentist to only buy chewing gum that contains xylitol. It costs a little bit more, but it’s a natural extract so apparently healthier than other options.
I picked up this brand (see right – Dogmatix is for scale) in the USA when I was there a few weeks ago. Search your local chemist or online to buy in your region.
Habit 5: Text something encouraging
Sometimes, it’s about doing something for others that will make you feel better about yourself.
Take a moment to send that special someone a few words of encouragement. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but you’ll feel better about yourself afterward.
Encouraging others is a core part of having a better outlook on your own life, and that’s why there are so many volunteers in the world.
We understand more about ourselves when we can see things from a different angle, and that helps centre our own lives. It only takes a few minutes and can make a world of a difference.
True happiness will never come from the things we “get” but how we view the world.
So why not try to make other peoples days brighter, and improve your own worldview.
Habit 6: Check-in with your online support group
Either connect with your online team or find an online forum or Facebook Group that matches your personal interests or habits.
Then spend a few minutes in the morning interacting with like-minded people on this website.
There are a number of reasons why this is a necessary step to success. Here are some of the most important:
- They hold you accountable for your actions
- You can connect with like-minded people
- You’ll find new tips
- It’s easier to track your progress
No matter what you hope to accomplish, having the right support group there for you can make a huge difference for beginning your day in the right way.
Habit 7: Assess your energy levels
Think about when you do your best work.
Most people have more energy for creative or complex thinking in the morning because self-control depletes throughout the day. So, it important to schedule your “big thinking” tasks into the time of day that suits you best.
With that in mind, here are some guidelines:
Mornings are about getting out the door, or to your work desk, which is itself a challenge, especially if you have children. Reserve the mornings for the tasks that require the most critical thinking and troubleshooting.
This is a very powerful time of day because your energy (and coffee high) has likely dissipated. This means you’re primed to do the really boring, routine stuff, in a really efficient way. Use this time for tasks like answering emails, processing smaller tasks, and concentrated research.
Afternoons are for planning and preparation for the next day: put your to-do list in order and finish up important work before you head towards your family for the evening.
Habit 8: Write your daily to-do list, every day
There are a number of habits you can follow to overcome procrastination and take action on a consistent basis. However, the most important of them all is the “Most Important Tasks” (MITs) list.
The idea here is to look at your work schedule and pick the few tasks that will have the biggest impact on your work today. Simply identify these tasks and start your workday by completing them before anything else.
Doing this regularly is also a great practice in learning how to prioritise your tasks and responsibilities.
Work down your list through the day. Revisit the list as often as possible and when the need arises, rearrange the tasks or bullets. This list will be your guide for the day and keep you organized.
Another personal note!
I use a fantastic little tool called TeuxDeux.com. I have kept coming back to this tool time and time again because it is so simple and it works well for me.
I use it to plan my week and to also focus on just a few tasks each day.
You can try it for free for 30 days. Or it costs a few dollars for a year.
Habit 9: Avoid or minimise distractions
This might be easier said than done, with all the distractions that are present in the home or workplace.
There are arguably times when distractions get the best of your concentration and focus. This is quite normal especially when you’ve been pushing yourself to work non-stop.
It is important, though, to minimise these distractions as much as possible.
Look back on your list and remind yourself of the important tasks you need to do and then refocus.
Habit 10: Take a breather
Go on breaks.
Contrary to being fully distracted, taking short breaks can be beneficial if you need to refocus.
Give your brain time to pause and rest. Staying too close to your work can sometimes even yield negative results, with you having the tendency to become a little careless.
Go on a break, take a breather, and refuel your mind and energy in order to take on the next tasks on your list.
As you can see, there are plenty of ideas for small habits that can be added to any morning routine. While you don’t have to do them all, I do suggest following a simple strategy that is called “habit stacking.”
With habit stacking you create a process flow where you put everything in a logical order where you go from room to room and complete one task after another. (Example: Start the day by making your bed and opening the curtains.)
The idea here is to establish a routine where you complete a number of positive habits without even thinking about it.
You can even write down this routine and follow it as a daily checklist every morning.
Your routine should include a great start, a list, and a break.
These are the most essential habits you need to help improve your concentration and organisation skills.
It’s a great way to get started each day and will get you one step closer to maintaining a successful online career.