1. Set your alarm half an hour earlier
Half an hour less sleep won’t make a huge difference to how tired you feel but with that extra time you can squeeze in a morning workout. Just a 20-minute run or at-home yoga practice will leave you feeling much better (and more alert) than if you’d snoozed the alarm all that time.
Regular meditation has been found to improve mood, energy levels and productivity, so taking 10 minutes out of your day to sit quietly could add more into it than you might imagine. Try to find a few minutes early in the day before your mind gets full of to-do list items.
3. Front-load your days, and weeks
Always do the hard things first, when you have the most energy. This might mean scheduling important meetings for first thing in the morning, or blocking off time to write reports early in the week. Save smaller, easier jobs, such as replying to emails, for later in the day and for Fridays, when your attention, and energy, is waning.
4. Work ‘smart not hard’
This sounds like a clever phrase but what it simply means is prioritise ruthlessly. Accept that you only have a set amount of hours in the day and gas in the tank and work out what are the most vital things to get done first. Anything else is a bonus.
5. Ditch perfectionism
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg advises that ‘done is better than perfect’. While it can be hard to accept that we can’t do absolutely everything to our exacting standards, in some cases, perfectionism can hinder a project. Be aware what standards are required and hit them. Don’t go above and beyond when it’s not necessary.
6. Always take your lunch break
You might feel like there’s not enough time, but eating lunch al-desko is a false economy. Taking proper time out at lunch has been found to improve concentration and productivity for the rest of the day, so chances are you’ll get more done than if you slaved away all through lunchtime. From a physical perspective, it’s important too. Your eyes need a screen break and your body needs to stretch out.
7. Use your calendar wisely
Want to make sure you leave work on time? Block out the last half hour of each day on your calendar so you know you always have the last 30 minutes free to finish up anything important and plan for the next day. This ensures no one can accidentally push you into overtime, with a surprise last-minute meeting.
8. Schedule official family time
It’s easy to let our family relationships and friendships take a backseat when deadlines pile in, but they require work too, and it’s important to give them as much respect as your job. Take your loved ones seriously by scheduling in uninterrupted time with them.
9. Have switch-off time
It’s increasingly clear that we humans need to unplug. We’re not designed to be connected every waking hour and being glued to a screen is bad for our physical and mental health. Set strict no-tech time in the evening, after which you don’t check your phone.
10. Write a life grid
Sometimes we forget that work is not our entire lives. It isn’t who we are and it doesn’t have to define us or how we spend our time. To help you get everything in perspective, draw a square separated into nine boxes. In each box, write something that’s important in your life. One will be work, but the eight others are yours to play with.