I turned on my computer as soon as I got to my office without even looking at my surroundings this morning. I was avoiding the clutter on my desk, the books scattered everywhere, shoes on the floor, dusty desktop monitors, and the list can go on and on. What I only had that moment was silence and a lot of To Dos on my list. If you were me and I know you too experience this, what will you do first? I listed five steps that I did today and so far it led me to writing this blog.
Ten minutes of calm can last you the whole day. To start the process, close your eyes and listen to the silence around you. Smile. Seek for that inner joy. Think about happy things. Be grateful. Offer a prayer to God. See what this powerful step can do to you.
2. Make coffee or tea
I assume you are a drinker.
Once you are in the zone, have caffeine help you to activate. I didn’t know what coffee did to my husband but he finally drinks it before he starts his day. I asked him to drink coffee one day because he prefers hot chocolate or milk tea over my brew. It is lonely to have coffee alone so I explained to him that coffee ain’t cliche! Don’t forget to drink water for every cup of coffee you intake to prevent dehydration.
3. Play classical music
I unlocked this secret about four years ago while doing product inventory. I usually sucked at it because it involves counting and tallying so I thought classic rock in the background won’t help. I turned the station to Classical WETA and little did I know my productivity shoot through the roof. So listening to classical music became a habit of mine whenever I needed focus. So what’s the science behind this?
Lacking in lyrics and often considered to be the apex of the craft, classical music is a popular choice for getting things done. One study in particular made it very clear that Baroque-period tunes appear to have a measurable impact on productivity. The study only had 8 radiologists as subjects, however all but one reported that the classical music had a notable improvement on their concentration.
Personally, I love listening to Tchaikovsky to perk up my sleepy senses. Sometimes Mozart is a little bit overwhelming. For starters, try Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.3 to test the waters. Have Spotify installed in your tablet or mobile.
4. Scan your room and tidy up
Focus your eyes to your favorite part of the room. In my case, I love looking at the window and see the silhouette of the plants behind that frosted window glass. I like how they move with the passing breeze. It makes me feel nostalgic instantaneously. Then I move my eyes to the clutter and back to the window. I treat this task like playing a Spot the Not game.
Start from the floor up. Pick up the books put them back to the shelves, arrange the papers, organize your wires, and dust the top of the desks and monitors. Don’t dwell too much on one side of the room. There’s no time for spring cleaning. Have that scheduled some time.
That one secret you need to start doing now is tidy up your desk before you leave work. Though you have a long list of To-Dos, it is always helpful to start a work day with a fresh desk and mind.
5. Prioritize tasks.
I love it old school. A pen and a pad that is visible to your eyes is the way to do it. When you have a thought, write it down immediately, then delete it from your mind. Ken Zeigler, a productivity expert says that we should allow our mind to be a strategic thinker, not a memory chip.
Write down all of the tasks that you need to complete. If they’re large tasks, break out the first action step, and write this down with the larger task. (Ideally, tasks or action steps should take no longer than 1-2 hours to complete.)
To use your list, simply work your way through it in order, dealing with the A priority tasks first, then the Bs, then the Cs, and so on. As you complete tasks, tick them off or strike them through. Many people find it helpful to spend 10 minutes at the end of the day, organizing tasks on their list for the next day.
When you’re prioritizing tasks, make sure you differentiate between urgency and importance. For more on this, see our article on Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle
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