A joyful and productive day extends beyond work activities. It’s often the time in-between tasks that are the hardest times of the day to manage. Shifting between tasks can result in procrastination and often takes more energy than we want it to. We’ve found that these five non-work activities made us more productive:
1. Daily Walks
We have two dogs so we really have no choice in the matter. However, we’ve intentionally scheduled these walks to break up parts of our day. Our morning walk signals the beginning of the workday for me (Krista wakes up at least an hour before me, so she’s generally finishing up her first tasks of the day prior to our walk). We take another walk around lunchtime and often use it to reevaluate what we need to get done in the afternoon. And (in the summer) we end our day workday with an evening walk.
Walks are especially beneficial because they get us out of the office and moving around. I’ve found that if I am having an unproductive morning, our afternoon walk provides an opportunity to hit “reset.” It not only creates starting and stopping points throughout the day, but it also provides a little extra dose of exercise, too.
2. The Skimm & other reading
The Skimm is a comical daily newsletter that arrives each weekday morning with the most important news of the previous day. It’s easily digestible, only taking about 3-5 minutes to read. I found reading the Skimm prevents me from meandering aimlessly around the internet in the morning. Once I’m done reading, I move on to the day’s work.
Krista and I also enjoy reading, but read different types of things throughout the day. We both start our day with morning readings and devotionals from The Word Among Us. During the day I take some time to read professional development texts. And in the evening we both like to unwind with fiction.
3. Have Recess
This is a new revelation for me: I’ve found that if I do something fun in the middle of the day, I’m more motivated to achieve in the morning and afternoon. Maybe it’s because I treat it like recess—if I get my morning tasks done, I can go out and play a little in the afternoon. Who didn’t like recess?
I have found that doing something I want to do for 60-90 minutes in the afternoon—generally right after lunch—has helped me stay on task in the morning and keeps me motivated in the afternoon. This activity can be anything from catching up with a friend, playing 9-holes of golf, or working in the garden. Just remember it’s time dedicated for play.
4. Afternoon Workouts
I have found afternoon workouts are exactly what I need to get me through the day. By 4 in the afternoon, I am starting to mentally check-out and feeling a bit sluggish. Working out gives me a mental and physical energy boost (I wrote a little more about the benefits here). And afterwards I usually have created at least an hour of momentum before I have to call it quits for the day.
Finding the motivation to workout in the afternoon can be difficult, but doing Crossfit helps. The memberships are generally more expensive than a traditional gym, which helps get people to class (no one wants to feel like they wasted $150). The workouts are prescribed so there’s no mental energy spent trying to decide what workout to complete. And since the workout it completed as a class, there’s more motivation to work hard.
Healthy eating is important to Krista and me. But finding the time to meal plan, grocery shop, and prep those meals was difficult and a huge time suck. This past December we started subscribing to a meal subscription plan called HelloFresh, and we haven’t looked back.
HelloFresh sends healthy meals to your doorstep each week. Each meal takes about 15-20 minutes to prep, but it eliminates the time figuring out what to make and how to make it. There are different meal plans to meet different needs. We generally get four meals for the week.
We don’t get around to all five of these things every day, but we do our best to be intentional with our time and focus only on the most important things. What are some of your best productivity hacks when shifting gears throughout the day?
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