In a world where working remotely or working from has now become a part of our mainstream culture, staying productive has become so much harder. We are constantly distracted by our home or social environments. We mismanage our time throughout the day and week. We're guilty of choosing to catch up with friends, scroll through social media, or engage in almost anything else that prevents us from owning our day. And we're not one hundred percent wrong for this. Americans are known to be overworked and burned out. It's only now we are catching up to the world in adopting a better work-life balance. But it doesn't mean we should drop everything and forget about our priorities.
So, how do you boss up and own your day when we live in a society that is made to distract you? Boundaries. Strong boundaries. Creating boundaries for yourself is key to managing your day. Boundaries apply to productivity the same way they apply in friendships, relationships, and family. The problem we run into is standing by our boundaries. It takes a level of discipline and consistency. This requires continuous commitment and practice.
Here are 7 boundaries you can set for yourself to be more productive and slay not only your workday but all your goals.
1. Limit Social Media
You can't tell me you're not mindlessly scrolling through the 'gram or TikTok throughout your day. Because I do it too. We are all guilty AF of this. It's like an addiction or some type of FOMO. We have to constantly be in the know. We have to ensure we are not missing out on someone else's life. Read that again. Someone else's life. When we should be paying attention to our own life. Some people will spend 4-8 hours a day on social media like it's a whole job. I mean, if social media is your job, you're exempt from this conversation.
Thanks to app updates and Apple, we have the tools to physically limit social media. It's called Do Not Disturb. It's a setting that can be turned on or off to your choosing. But if that doesn't work for you, consider deactivating your social media accounts or deleting the apps from your phone. In 2019, I took a social media break for a whole year. And I'm currently on a social media break now. Trust me, you're not missing anything. And I have been able to manage my time better, complete my to-do list, and do more of what I love.
2. Limit Communication
If it's not work-related or an emergency, it can wait. There's no need to respond to every single call, text message, and/or email. Those people in your DMs can wait too. We are also guilty of this. We feel like we have to be responsive to everything and we don't. If it has nothing to do with your time or money, it can wait. This goes for work emails, messages, and meetings as well. If it has nothing to do with you and your position, kindly excuse yourself from the meeting. Set time aside in your day to respond to work messaging platforms and emails. Ask to schedule work communications for certain days and times of the week. There is no need for daily meetings if it's not an urgent matter. Provide updates on pertinent projects through emails and/or project management apps.
3. If It’s Not Written Down, Don’t Worry About It
Plan out your workday or workweek with a daily planner. I typically do this on Sunday nights or Monday mornings. I even go so far as to color code events, projects, appointments, and deadlines. If a task is not written down in your planner as a to-do for that day, or week, don't worry about it. These tasks can be done when you have time and energy to complete them. And don't go adding more things to your day when you know you may not have the time to dedicate to it. Worrying about what you didn't complete only adds more stress. Minimize stress by setting this boundary.
4. Break Down Big Projects
Large projects can be daunting. It's hard to know where to start and where to end. The key is to break down large projects into smaller parts, then assign estimated due dates for each part of the project. You want to also track project completion using a gannt chart. A gannt chart is a project management tool that displays project activities set to a timeline. You can adjust the timeline based on external factors or dependencies. This way, you are not overwhelmed about completing the project on time. If you only have 2-3 hours a week to work on parts of the project, that's OK. Honor the time that you're able to give.
5. Set A Routine And Stick To It
Day drinking or weekday bar hopping is not it. Do not expect your day to go your way with a hangover. I yelled at my client for this. Shout out to him because he was the inspiration for this whole article. Having a daily routine will help you move through your day effortlessly. Your daily routine should include habits like eating a good breakfast, waking up early, going to bed early, drinking water, and daily exercise. Habits like these help you prioritize and understand what is important.
6. Take A Break
Being productive does not mean working 6 to 8 hours straight without a break. We are not robots, and we are not made to constantly be on. We are human, we need to rest and recharge daily. Don't skip breaks or lunches, take them. You would be surprised what a 20-minute break can do for you. It allows you to reset your energy levels. Research shows that our minds naturally need a break after 90 minutes of intense work. Science doesn't lie. Use your breaks to practice mindfulness or take a walk. Research also shows spending time outside helps relax our minds.
7. Know When To Call It Quits
Listen, I stop working at 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. On a good day where I checked everything off my to-do list, I call it quits at 3 p.m. too. And I don't work weekends unless it's necessary. We have to end our day. How else would we know when a new day begins? Again, we are not meant to be one hundred percent on. But this is America – we live in a capitalistic society that expects high-performance 24/7.
I know some of us don't have the luxury of controlling our schedules. Not all of us are exempt employees or self-employed. With that being said, I would suggest taking 30 minutes before you go off the clock to start preparing for the next workday. This is called a shutdown ritual. Organize your desk, close tabs on your internet browser, write out your to-do list, or check your calendar.
The goal is to be productive, not busy. We often use the word busy to imply we don't have time, but it doesn't mean we are productive. According to Google, to be productive means achieving or producing a significant amount or a result. To be busy means having a great deal to do. Do you see the difference? Productivity is associated with a result or outcome.
With that said, I think it's time to change how we use our words when it comes to managing our workdays. If we can master this, we can transform our day.
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