As freelancers and entrepreneurs, the onus is on us to schedule our time, buckle down, and get stuff done. But it’s no secret that this is easier to do on some days than others. On those other days, procrastination can grab even the best of us by the collar and send us spiraling down a rabbit hole full of Buzzfeed videos and YouTube Karaoke (OK, maybe that last one is just me).
Luckily, there are some great tools and methods available that we can use to help keep us on track—not only during business hours but also in life. Here are five of my favorites.
1. Make your bed
I managed to skip making my bed for 33 years by the time I discovered this information; since making the change, my life (and my home) has become a lot more organized with what seems like almost no effort. Who knew!
2. Use lists and take notes
My favorite way to make a list and take notes is still the good old pen and paper method. I’m much more likely to retain and understand information if I physically write it down. And it turns out I am not the only one: Research shows that writing things down leads to better learning.
One of the biggest challenges with paper and pen is that text is not easily searchable so as the weeks progress, looking for unattended to-do’s can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. After trying many to-do list type apps, I have finally landed on Todoist and no longer feel I have to look for an alternative solution. Not only is it easy to use, it has a feature that reminds you what you have finished and scheduled, as well as anything that’s overdue. That extra bit of information adds a sliver of accountability to my day.
To stay organized, I quickly jot notes in my notebook as things come up that will need attention at a later time. At the end of the day, I go through my notes and enter action items into Todoist and set a deadline. First thing in the morning the next day, I look at the list and use it as a guide to decide how my day will go.
3. Take a shower
It’s been reported that showering during the workday can make people happier, more productive, and improve creativity.
If this isn’t up your alley, you can get the same benefit by making time for breaks throughout the day. Take a walk at lunch time. Do some yoga or have a bike ride in the afternoon when you are in a slump. Call a family member to see how they’re doing.
Breaks serve to clear your head, unclog any mental blocks, and keep your brain functioning in prime condition.
4. Eat well
Eating well is hard to do no matter what your profession. It may seem like working from home encourages a better diet by giving you full access to your own kitchen, but those of us who have been doing this for a while know we’re just as likely to grab something fast and nutritionally questionable so we don’t lose momentum when hunger strikes.
To combat this, avoid going to the grocery store hungry so you don’t fill your basket with convenience foods, and take the time the night before or in the morning to prepare yourself a nutritious lunch—just as you would if you were going to leave the house for work. (For more ideas, see 5 Healthier Ways to Save Time at Meal Time.)
5. Get enough sleep
In my productivity arsenal, sleep is probably the thing I take the most seriously: I’m absolutely useless when I don’t have a good night’s sleep, and I recognize that. Because of this, I’ve forced myself to become more responsible when it comes to planning my evenings.
If you have trouble getting the proper rest, these sleep habits of successful people might help.
What do you do to keep your day on track? Share your advice in the comments!