I am one of the many 9-to-5ers who is guilty of a cardinal sin to productivity—I hit the snooze button, a lot. The bed is too comfy, the weather perfect for sleeping in, and that tile floor is going to be too cold for my barely awake body to navigate quite yet.
But research has proven time and time again that people who are wildly successful don’t hit the snooze button, but usually wake up earlier than I’d like to fathom. Their workdays are regimented, planned out with exercise, work time, and family time fitting together effortlessly.
So to bring a little clarity to the habits of those we wish to emulate, here are six things you should consider when planning your day.
1 – Have a Morning Routine
Benjamin Franklin would wake at 4am to accomplish all he wanted to in a day. Winston Churchill would eat breakfast, read the world’s newspapers and dictate notes to his secretaries, all from bed. More recently, folks like Executive Michelle Gass wake early every morning to run, which she believes boosts her happiness and business success. It doesn’t matter if you plan on checking email from bed first thing or carving out time for a quiet cup of coffee devoid of interruptions, a morning schedule not only helps you get motivated for a successful day, it helps ground you for the challenges that could be ahead.
The president shoots hoops. Vogue’s editor plays tennis before each day’s hair appointment. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s that you do it. Exercise makes you more alert throughout the day, giving you the energy to get through every meeting, hair fire, and slightly inappropriate email that gets forwarded to you. Richard Branson claims that he gets four hours of additional productivity out of his day from exercising. Even if you only get half of that, I’d consider it a win.
3 – Plan for When Hunger Strikes
Exercise is only partially responsible for making a healthy body—the fuel you put into it is just as important as exercise to keep things running smoothly. And while I’ll never admonish someone for enjoying on a cheeseburger and fries at lunch, lighter, more nutritional meals and snacks will benefit your work much more than heavy splurges.
Scheduling back to back meetings might look like it gets more done on the surface, but your attention in the third or fourth chat of the day is probably waning by now. Small breaks throughout the day to literally focus on your breathing, or removing your eyeballs from your computer screen can give you the productive boost you need. Oprah makes time to meditate during her day—perhaps it’s an option for you too? Also remember to schedule some time at home too—eat dinner with your family (President Obama does it every night), play with your dog, or do yoga with your partner. Although work-life balance is pretty much a myth, it doesn’t mean you should stop trying to reach that balance.
You can’t do everything. I say this to myself at least once a day but it hasn’t stuck yet. But in order to be more present and more productive in the things you can accomplish, this one’s a biggie. Saying no is just as important as saying yes and proves to yourself that you value your time enough to prioritize the truly important things.
6 – Get your Beauty Sleep
Without sleep, your body can not repair. And even if you did all of the things before now on this list, you still need to rest your mind and body. To me, a good night of sleep is better than a cup of coffee in the morning, and the days I don’t hit the snooze button are the ones where I went to bed at a reasonable time and slept undisturbed through the night.