Morning Hacks for a Productive Day.
I am ALL about productivity. I mean, I’m a nurse. Aren’t we all?
We have a TON to do and little-to-no time to do it in.
Many of us have families to take care of in addition to our nursing roles. And, couple the actual job we do with the “other duties as assigned” – yup, we are all very busy in nursing!
And let’s point some terminology out right up front – this post says “morning”, but I get it. If you are a night shift nurse (and I was for about a year before my body/mind gave up on me) then use your time frame that works best for you.
Morning, noon, or night… whenever you start the day… that’s when these “hacks” are suggested for!
So, let’s get to these tips, now shall we?!
Make It a Productive Day.
Before I get into the productivity tips, let me first point out that this is all up to you.
No one is going to make your day productive for you. And, on the other hand, nobody stands in the way of your productivity other than one person that’s very close to you… YOU!
Excuses, distractions and all of that other nonsense aside – you are the only person in your life that you are accountable for. And so that’s why I want to point this out right up front…
These productivity hacks won’t work if you don’t use them. And there’s no sense in blaming others for not getting shi!t done. Because, it’s all on you!
The very first commitment you have to make? Commit to having a productive day.
If you start out something like this: well, I will try. I just never know what is going to come up. Gosh, my whole day was a wash because I had to help my sister…
NO, NO, NO. You made those choices yourself, my friend. You are the only person that can choose productivity in your life today!
Morning, noon, or night… let’s get to it. Tips for you to enjoy a productive day!
Go to Bed. Now, what does going to bed have to do with my day?
Well, if you’re staying up staring at your phone or watching Netflix, you won’t have the energy on the flip side of the pillow!
You need to get a good night’s rest in order to enjoy a productive day.
Go to bed sooner. Drink less fluids a few hours before bed so that you’re not up to the bathroom all night. Turn down the lights. Create a soothing sleep environment. Get a good rest!
Eat. Yes, I do mean breakfast (even if you work night shift).
You need to eat a healthy breakfast, full of nutrients, before you start your day.
During my training with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I learned something very interesting about why my energy levels crashed during the morning.
I was eating sugary cereal, with milk, and washing it down with orange juice. I don’t know about you, but have you seen the amount of sugar that is in OJ??
My energy would peak shortly after eating breakfast (if I ate it at all) and then I would crash mid-morning.
These days I eat a salad, hard boiled egg, non-sugary cereal with almond milk (unsweetened) and a smoothie. Gotta tell you, I have been eating this breakfast almost daily (unless traveling or sick) for about 9 years now. I enjoy energy all morning long and have never looked back!
Use a List. As a nurse, this should be an easy hack for you. In fact, you may already do it. But here’s a twist…
If you have the time and are able to do so, consider listing out what you are going to do the next day the night before!
That’s right. Similar to the “rest well” tip, this one happens the day before you even want to be productive.
Think about your upcoming week and list things out at the start of the week. Then, each night before bed, make a shorter list of just what needs to happen that next day.
For example, I recently worked on applying to graduate school. At the start of the week, I knew that I had to get three things done for the program application (e.g. transcript retrieval, reference letter requests, and personal statement).
So, at the start of the week, I had all three items on my to-do list. Then, each night before bed, I wrote down the exact thing I was going to tackle the next day. Not three things. Not well maybe that one or that other thing. No, the exact thing.
Tuesday I reached out to my desired references with an email. Thursday I called universities to obtain transcripts. And, Friday I wrote my personal statement. All three things got done – just one day at a time.
Start with Presence. You will NOT have a productive day if you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off. And a nurse who does not practice some kind of mindfulness technique or centering exercise is going to be distracted. It’s just how it is.
Science has proven that mindfulness decreases distraction. So, start your day with just a few moments of stillness.
Focus on your breathing, while sitting still. Or, if you really, really dislike stillness can you use your morning shower as a mindfulness activity?
Rather than thinking about the laundry list of things that you have to get done over the course of the upcoming day – feel your feet fully connected to the shower floor. Smell the scents of the soaps, bath washes, or hair products that you use. Notice the sensations of the water hitting your body. Breathe deeply in and out of the nose.
You have to take a shower before heading into work, correct? Why not use it as a purposeful experience that allows you to start your day with a mindful pause?
Multitask Where Appropriate. Now, this hack is in total opposition with the one above. And while I do not believe multitasking works (in fact, it has been proven ineffective by research) – I do believe that there is a time and place for multitasking.
Do you have a commute to work? Unless you live inside of your job (gosh, I hope not!) – we all have even a few minutes of movement to get us from our home base into the work place.
Rather than screaming at the car in front of you or zoning out with Candy Crush on the train, use your commute to work in a productive way.
Maybe you need to read the documents for the upcoming quality improvement meeting. Or, you can check your email and respond to items that don’t require a large amount of context or thought. Finally, you may consider listening to a podcast that will educate, inspire you, or prepare you in some other format for the productive day ahead.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the above list and what you’d add to the docket? Tell us by commenting below, what helps you stay productive throughout the day?
About the Author: Keynote speaker and podcaster, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, HNB-BC partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the host of the Your Next Shift podcast, Elizabeth supports nursing organizations in celebrating and recognizing their staff in a meaningful way. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.