Pushing open the heavy doors of the co-working space, I stepped inside and made a bee line for the beautiful, sun filled corner I fell in love with the week before. I set up my laptop, slid my headphones over my ears and cracked open my notebook to write out the day’s Can Do list.
Another co-working space inhabitant tapped my notebook and gave me the thumbs up. I took my headphones off and she said ‘I LOVE that!’
Her interest fascinated me because I’ve been writing Can Do lists for years, ever since my work wife Chrissy introduced them to me. Isn’t it funny how your own every day rituals can be so fascinating to other people?
Co-working space lady and I had a bit more of a chat and she wandered off to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. I noticed her over the course of day sitting in the communal area, completely still, not doing anything. Not looking at her phone, not reading. I asked about it.
‘Hey, when you’re sitting there like that what are you doing?’
‘Nothing.’ She replied. As a graphic designer she needs silence and stillness to solve problems so when she’s really struggling, she removes all stimulus and the solution will usually rise out of the calm moment.
How cool is that? I’m utterly fascinated by other people’s rituals and work days. You know those articles that show the timeline of a typical day in the life of Oprah or Bill Gates? I freaking love those. I even like knowing what they have for breakfast and when they work out.
On that note, I thought I’d share a few things that you should be doing every work day. You don’t HAVE to do these things but if you struggle with routine and you’d like some order in your work day, this one’s for you…
1. Be on time
Obviously there are extenuating circumstances where you can’t always be on time but you should always aim to be prompt. That last minute flap of flying in the door, grabbing all the things you need on the way to your first meeting and starting the day with an elevated heart rate is not helpful to anyone. If you start your day in a total panic, that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Allow yourself time to get ready in the morning, pack your things the night before and allow plenty of time for your car ride, walk or commute.
2. Plan your breaks
One of the things I miss the most about teaching was the forced breaks at recess and lunch. They were far too quick and not really ‘breaks’ at all but the routine of stopping the task I was working on and moving on to the next thing was very refreshing. I work for myself from home and I’ve adopted a similar schedule to a high school. I plan my breaks, I plan each ‘period’ of my day and I run it according to that schedule. If you have enough flexibility in your work to be able to do this, give it a try. I use Long Day app but there are lots of planning apps that do this. Even if this style isn’t necessarily your bag, planning your breaks is essential.
3. Eat your frog
The first thing you need to do is identify the thing that you’re dreading doing today and do it. Straight up, before you even have the chance to think about not doing it. Frogs taste MUCH better first thing in the morning when you haven’t had time to think about how gross they are all day.
4. Eat a ridiculously virtuous lunch
Offices are honey traps for treat seekers. There’s always a birthday cake, a tin of biscuits, a packet of lollies or some chocolate sitting around in communal dining areas. You won’t always be able to successfully avoid this stuff but what you CAN do is commit to a healthy lunch every day. That way you get all your nutrients, greens and protein in so it’s not THAT big a deal if you have a Tim Tam in the afternoon.
Need some inspo? Check out these posts.
5. Take 20 minutes to listen to or read something uplifting
Breaks are so important and it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure they happen for everyone in their work place. Take your breaks and spend them well. Read a chapter of a book on your Kindle, go for a walk and listen to an uplifting podcast. Choose an activity that will give you an energy and mood boost to take you through to the afternoon. Here’s some ace podcasts you might like and most are under 30 mins each episode.
6. Connect with at least one past colleague just to say hi
It could be as simple as sending a quick email or texting them an interesting article you found. Networking is more important than ever and just letting people know you’re still thinking about them is a very excellent way to spend your time. Even if you never end up working with them again, it’s a great way to keep all your business bridges in tact and well connected. Plus it’s nice to keep in contact with people you once shared your career with.
7. Have one joyful, not work related conversation
I’m 100% not a fan of people wasting time at work being social and not getting their work done but you simply must take a few moments each day to have a non-work related discussion. It could be about the latest episode of the Bachelor, a book you’re both reading or a chat about what you’re up to on the weekend. Make it an in-person discussion and take the time to move away from your work area to have the discussion. Also, make it brief. 15 minutes is enough.
8. Do one thing towards your long term goal
If you have a long term career goal, do one thing every day to reach toward that goal. It might be reaching out to a superior to ask for guidance on a project, it might be taking the initiative to implement a new system at work or applying for a job that you think is out of your league. It could be as small as sending an email to someone you’ve always wanted to connect with. One thing, every day.
9. Leave calmly
Everyone is busy and working to more than their capacity and it doesn’t seem like this will be changing any time soon. Know what time you’re going to leave every day and plan to leave at that time in a calm and collected manner. Plan your day carefully so you don’t have to race through to the end of the day sending last minute, badly composed emails or leaving your desk piled high with unfinished work.
Another bonus tip is to find your own work non-negotiables. For instance Lisa Messenger spends time outside in her office garden every day. Kelly Exeter writes for 30 minutes at the start of every work day. Find things that are necessary for your work day, write them into a gorgeous list and tick them off every day.
If you need a bit more productivity inspo hit up the list below…