Do you constantly feel like you are busy and overwhelmed with the to-do lists and tasks to do that just never seem to end? If you do, don’t worry you are not alone with that. Now, I have to admit that this is something I have been struggling with in the past. I always made myself busy by taking up a lot of things to do at the same time. And then I started feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with everything and wonder – how come I am so tired all the time and never get anything done? Sound familiar? There a lot of articles about how to boost your productivity and I have looked into this topic a lot lately. But what I’ve noticed is that all of the tips are for people who actually have the same schedule every day and who can decide when they go to bed. So I am writing this article especially for you who feel like your brain is full of fog every morning you wake up due to irregular work shifts (like me, heh!) So here are eight simple actions you can start implementing right now and that actually work!
1. Set Goals for the next day the night (or day) before
This is important. I often find myself drifting away from the things I am supposed to do when I don’t have a set plan. It takes more time to orientate yourself in the things to do when you don’t know exactly where to start. So set goals that are achievable and you can even schedule one thing for a day. If you take too many things to tackle your motivation will go down when you notice you can’t do all of it in one day. If I have a lot of things to do, I set a time frame for each task in my calendar. So that way I have the whole day scheduled and it is easier to see if something just doesn’t fit. I’ll just move that then on the next day, for example.
Make a list of the most important things to do. The best way to do this is to use the Moscow technique. Divide your to-dos into four different categories. This helps you clear out the things that are most important from the ones that are less important or that really don’t need to be done at all. There are also other similar techniques to use with different names. You notice yourself being efficient – it’s like clearing the computer clutter from your mind! However, do not neglect your sleep. Lack of sleep can turn into a lack of productivity, and this is not what we want, we want your schedule to be well organized – not more chaotic and stressful.
3. Make your own miracle morning
Have you read the book Miracle morning? If you have, then you know the tips the book offers and how great it is. But what I have noticed is that most of these books and tips are for people who work 9 to 5 jobs. So I decided to create my own miracle morning routine and I hope this will help my readers also who doesn’t have 9 to 5 jobs. So first, decide what is the best time for you to start the day. For me, sometimes it might be 12 pm. I know that the early bird catches the worm but hey, you got to start from somewhere. Also, I allow myself to be jetlagged. Meaning; take your time and don’t worry if the whole world is up while you’ve been sleeping. Sometimes I do find myself feeling guilty but then again, it’s my life. Remember, it’s your life and you do what’s best for you. What works for someone doesn’t mean it automatically works for you. Whether you are traveling, recovering from jetlag (like me most of the time, heh) or just trying to balancing between your work and life, make a daily routine for your morning that fits into your life.
4. Spend time in nature
This is extremely important for me. Spending time in nature and doing anything outdoors will give you an energy boost. For me, it is taking care of my plants or doing gardening when the weather gets warmer. It’s a great way to unwind and release some stress. There are also numerous studies on the positive effects of spending time in nature and taking care of your green friends.
5. What is the number one thing I need to achieve?
Decide what is the most important task to be completed on that day. Don’t take too many at the same time. Think of just one, and start with that. When you do the conscious decision to have something completed, you are most likely to get that task done instead of just procrastinating. Sometimes I might have time for only that one thing. So when I don’t have time for other things, I make sure to get the #1 task done.
6. Create your own routine
It is proven that our brain and body love routines. It is almost impossible to create a routine while you work shifts. Sometimes you eat at night and sleep by day. This makes your body very confused. The best way to make it up for your physical being is to make a routine for the times you can. I have certain routines for my free days. I try to wake up as early as possible making sure I still get enough sleep. Sometimes this means that I wake up 10 am or even later than that. But I always try to keep a “normal” schedule for my days off, meaning that I go to bed as early as I can, listening to my body’s circadian clock. Even though I travel through multiple time zones several times a month, my body is still wired in the time zone I’m currently living in. So listen to your body’s own clock, it will always be connected to some time zone, even though it is sometimes disturbed by your irregular schedule. So create a routine that fits into your lifestyle, and if you feel like taking a nap, take a nap but don’t make it too long.
7. Use the Pomorodo technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a great time management method to be used to be more productive and stop you from procrastinating. It only needs some planning and focus! So what is the technique exactly, then? The basic idea is that you work in 25 minutes batches. I would recommend you to start with the most important task to be done and set a timer for 25 minutes. After that 25-minutes has passed, you take a 5-minute break. Really do something else during those 5 minutes. Stand up, get away from your laptop, or whatever else the task is, stop the work and drink some water for instance. When you set yourself that time frame, you will automatically be more focused on the task rather than letting two hours pass by without having that much accomplished. To boost your focus, set off your phone’s notifications that you won’t be distracted with messages, etc. I will list some apps to be used if you like such as:
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/be-focused-focus-timer/id973130201 (for iPhones and Apple devices)
8. Take time for yourself
One thing also to keep in mind is to nourish your mind and soul. Take time off and do the things you love. It is much easier to get drained out when working irregular schedules if you don’t get the right balance between your private life, sleep, and your work. Get a social media detox or whatever you feel like you need. If you find yourself and your mind drifting and feel like you are losing your focus, take time and reflect on things that matter the most. This way you won’t lose why you are doing what you are. Life is about enjoying and feeling fulfilled – not working hard aimlessly and not getting anywhere. Yes, there will be times when you are going to have to work hard but that will only be a phase. Besides, when you are clear about what you are working for, everything will get easier. When you are working for your own future you start feeling less stressed.
9. Use helpful apps and Softwares
Use apps to help you clear distractions
Controlled Multitb Browsing
I hope these tips will help you in managing your time (and life) and shifting your life into a more positive direction. And most importantly, don’t be so hard on yourself – you are the creator of your own life.