8 Tips to Stay Productive (and awake!)

I find Mondays and Tuesdays to be the hardest days of the week. Those are the days when I feel that I need more sleep, more weekend and generally not looking forward to work. However, these simple productivity tips help stay motivated, organised, and, well, awake. Please note: all of these tips, particularly ‘how to stay awake’ section, are written for someone who 1) has an office kind of job (more relatable) 2) has breakfast but still not organized/energetic/falling asleep. Otherwise, having a breakfast is the first item on the list!

1.Have a List

As a big believer in lists, I keep lists of everything and for everything: things I need to buy, things I want to cook, things I need to clean, things I want to achieve, and of course, daily to-do lists for both work and home. I find having things in writing easier to remember, and also helpful to control. I start my every day at work by writing 2 lists: a list of things to do at work and a list of things I want to do at home (and at home I also have a list of menu options but I will save it for another time).

2. Categorize

I used to just start writing a list as soon as I got to work but often found it less useful and more stressful as my mind at 8 a.m. is as confused and coffee-deprived as myself. I started adding categories, and I find it really helpful at my work, where I work on multiple projects. At home, different categories can stand for ‘things to buy’, ‘things to book’, ‘appointments/events to remember’ and so on.

3. Prioritize

The downside of being a ‘list person’ is that the number of items on my list may not be realistic or doable in any single day. During particularly busy or stressful days I developed a tactic – after writing and categorizing my initial list, I would draw a star symbol next to the items that I absolutely have to finish today. After that, if I have 3-5 or more items with a star symbol, I would put number of importance for each of them based on how urgent and important they are.

3. Stay hydrated

Half of the time when people do not have energy, it is caused by them being dehydrated. Especially in the morning, especially after having a coffee. Keep a bottle or glass of water at your desk to remind yourself to drink water!

4. Take breaks

Attention span is only 45 minutes. Anything past this time reduces your productivity and may add effort to complete. Try having breaks or switching tasks every 45 minutes or less.

5. Stay awake

When I was studying at university I tended to believe that the less time I have to complete my assignment, the more effort I would place to do it (lies!). Anyhow, I did receive good grades and finished my Master of Arts degree, so believe me, these tips will help you stay awake:

-Smells: pleasant ones like coffee or citrus can be achieved by investing in an essential oil with a roller, or in an essential oil and a diffusier. You can also take another route and try to smell a particularly strong perfume – it will awake you as well.

-Air: sometimes your brain literally shuts down if there is not enough air. Make sure you window is open or have a fan next to your desk. Try taking deep breaths.

-Something to chew: there are a number of food items that can give you energy and wake you up – from ‘energy balls’ (i.e. dates in almond butter or something along these lines), to any kind of a nut (peanut, walnut, etc.), to chocolate or granola bars. Chewing makes your whole mouth work so you can definitely keep yourself awake (unless you are a toddler (weird but kudos for learning to read so early!))

-music: keeping some music in a background or in your headphones also adds work for your brain to process, keeping it from falling asleep. There are lots of good internet radio stations, I recommend ‘Beirut Radio Online’ (European dance music, check it out!)

-Funny/dramatic: nothing wakes me up as seeing or reading something funny or dramatic (i.e. shocking, for example news. I recommend to take the ‘funny route’ though, adds positivity to your life)

-Exercise: if you are working from home or have an opportunity, do some brief exercises to get your blood flowing!

-Add light! Us, humans, tend to fall asleep during gloomy days or when there is not enough light. It is a signal to our system that it is a good time to relax. Keep your desk/office bright and you will naturally wake up faster.

6. Stay motivated: know your why and remind yourself

It is good to remind yourself why you are doing it and how it ties to your long-term goals. Surround yourself with descriptions, images, and words – from motivational quotes, apps to posters, podcasts, inspiring Instagram accounts – there are so many ways to get inspired, just find yours.

7. Evaluate your priorities

Occasionally it is helpful to look at your to-do list from the point of view of ‘future self’, and ask how what you are doing today will help you to achieve your goals that you want to achieve tomorrow. For example, if your ‘home’ to-do lists only include a list of things to clean or buy, but your dream is to write a book, there is something missing from your daily tasks!

8. Reward yourself

We all give up and doubt ourselves from time to time but we also need to be our own cheerleaders and reward ourselves when we do well. Create your own reward system that works for you – whether it is a fancy latte or a brunch (I am sorry, I love food!) for every step closer to your goal, do something for yourself to make yourself feel good. Because you deserve it!

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