Structure Your Day To Be More Productive and Enjoy Your Downtime
Ever had moments of downtime when all you could think about was a project or task still waiting to be completed? We all have, and it ruins the precious time when our brain should be relaxing and rejuvenating. Adding structure to your day can help.
Last week I wrote about “wasting time” and how it’s OK since your brain needs downtime. Now I’m talking about adding structure to your day. It seems contradictory, but hear me out.
We work more hours than ever – at the office and later, at home – take less time off, even retire later. So, it augurs that if we don’t structure our day, we won’t have any time to properly relax.
It starts with a structured week. In A Structured Day Can Keep Wasted Time at Bay, the author referred to Scott Dinsmore’s eight-step approach to planning your week:
- Carve out some time to plan your week before it begins
- Mentally focus on your long-term goals
- Celebrate your successes from the week before
- Identify lessons learned in the previous week
- Take note of things that were planned that didn’t occur and determine why
- Call out the most important goals for the current week
- Schedule everything — yes, everything — formally on a calendar
- Schedule everything else, including the planning itself
Most of us probably won’t follow all eight steps, but taking some time on Sunday night to plan the week (#1) and schedule everything (#7) will make a huge difference in your productivity – and real downtime – for the week.
Going Granular: Structured Day
Just as carving out time to plan a productive week before it starts is essential, so do productive days begin the night before.
There is no shortage of productivity advice around the web, and there is no single way that will work for you. This is where you adopt your own routine or put your own twist on a proven method to structure your day.
One method I use is creating checklists (in Evernote) the night before for morning stand-up meetings.
Then I prioritize using the 3 + 2 rule, with three big tasks and two smaller ones, blocking out time for each. After completing these primary tasks I can tackle the others on my to-do list (these things never get to zero), whip my inbox into shape, or plan for the next day.
This has resulted in more relaxed and creative evenings and weekends. (I’ve even started planning weekends, but keeping it loose and flexible.) And when I stick to this “planning my week and day” routine, my downtime is more enjoyable and creative.
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