1. Adjust to your natural rhythm. Each person’s body has a different natural schedule, or circadian rhythm, that helps determine when that person feels tired or alert. Try to create a routine that uses your most alert times of day for activities that require mental and physical effort, and give yourself time to relax during the times of day when you feel tired or have trouble thinking.
2. Find a way to start your day. If your mornings feel rushed or confused, they may be the weak point in your daily routine. Experiment with different options until you come up with a very specific routine that you can start every day with: Start the day out with a glass of water to rehydrate and wake up, followed by coffee or tea if you drink it. Use a stretching or light exercise routine to wake yourself up. The sun salute is a popular example in yoga. Have the same breakfast ready each day, or at least decide what you’re eating for breakfast the night before.
3. Think about your routine twice a day. Take at least 10 minutes each morning to look ahead to your day. If you have an extra obligation today, a temporary source of stress in your life, or another reason today is unusual, decide which activities can be skipped today if you need to. At the end of the day, look back and think about how that decision went, and whether you could improve your routine.
4. Find activities that refresh you. You should have at least a couple 5–15 minute breaks scheduled even in the busiest day, to refresh yourself and get you ready for the rest of your routine. If you tend to feel stressed during these breaks, or if they suck you in and end up taking much longer than they should, find a different activity.
5.Motivate yourself with sound. If you often lose track of time, set an alarm on your mobile phone or watch whenever you begin an activity, so you know when to move on to the next one. You can use music instead as a more pleasant motivation, organizing your music into playlists or categories based on the type of task you’re working on.
6. Prevent procrastination. Get rid of distractions in your work area. If you work on a computer and procrastinate online, block websites that waste your time.
7. Use electronic productivity tools. There are all kinds of tools out there that can motivate you, remind you, or give you virtual rewards for staying productive. Try HabitRPG if you are motivated by games, or any number of calendar programs to remind you of the next task.
8. Avoid disruptions to your sleep schedule. Blue light from electronic screens can prevent your body from releasing sleep hormones. Minimize computer, phone, and television use late at night, or install Flux to change the color of your screen at night. Caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs can also make it much harder to get a restful night of sleep.