Increasing your productivity doesn’t have to be rocket science. No need for complicated productivity systems, new apps, or Navy SEAL-level habits. Some of the simplest actions and micro-habits can have the biggest payoff in mental focus, energy, and overall productivity.
That’s why, in this article, I’ll share 12 micro-habits you can easily apply daily to get more done and work smarter:
1. Plan Your Day The Night Before
Proper planning prevents poor performance. Therefore, as part of my evening routine, I always plan the next day in great detail using my productivity planner. This one practice has at least tripled my daily productivity. As part of my planning practice, I make a list of all the tasks I want to complete, rank them based on priority (the more a task moves the needle forward to my long-term goals, the higher its priority), and use time-blocking to create a schedule for the day.
I prefer planning my day the night before instead of in the morning. By doing so, I know exactly what needs to be done from the moment I wake up — and I can focus all my energy on executing the plan instead of still having to make the plan.
2. Review Your Long-Term Goals Daily
The most common reason people fail to achieve their goals is stupidly simple: They forget about them. When you lack a system to keep your goals top of mind, they’ll slowly fade away due to the busyness of life.
To avoid this, I recommend reviewing your long-term goals every single morning — before you start working. This way, your goals stay at the top of your mind and you stay focused on them. Besides, it will help you purposefully plan and design your days so that you’ll actually make progress towards your long-term goals instead of merely reacting to the busyness of the day.
3. Identify Your Top 3 Daily Targets
One of the simplest but most effective habits to increase your productivity is to identify your top 3 targets for the day. When you clearly identify your priorities, your entire day will be much more focused and purposeful. So, before the workday begins, take one minute and ask yourself the following question:
Which 3 things, if achieved today, get me a big step closer to reaching my long-term goals?
Personally, I never start the workday without identifying my top 3 priorities for the day. I know that if I don’t identify my top priorities, I’ll end up wasting a lot of time doing tasks that don’t matter much. All of this ‘busywork’ might make me feel accomplished, but it doesn’t get me much closer to my long-term goals.
4. Drink Two Glasses of Water Right After Waking Up
When you wake up, it’s important to immediately hydrate your body. After being without water for 6–8 hours, you’re pretty much dehydrated. This leads to feeling sluggish, unfocused, and maybe even a bit irritated.
Therefore, I always drink two glasses of water right after waking up — before I have my first cup of coffee. I’m not naturally a morning person, but this simple habit helps me kickstart the day. I feel more energized and awake, boosting my morning mood and productivity.
5. Do A 5-Minute Daily Review
As part of my evening routine, I perform a 5-minute review of the day using my productivity planner. I ask myself the following questions:
- Did I accomplish my top 3 priorities of the day? If not, why not?
- Which tasks occupied my time and energy, but didn’t lead to meaningful results?
- Which people and activities sparked the most energy and happiness today?
- What would I do differently tomorrow?
This 5-minute review has helped me immensely in improving my performance in my business- and personal life. Over the last few years, it has helped me optimize my daily routine, fix blind spots, and work much smarter.
6. Reach Out To Your Type-A Friends
Honestly, I could do much better with this habit. I’m naturally an introvert, so I tend to forget to reach out to my most ambitious and positive friends. I should do this much more often. However, I’ve noticed that those days in which I talk to my type-a friends (the ones who dream big, spark energy, and radiate positivity), I get infected with their energy. This automatically boosts my mood and motivation.
Remember, energy is infectious. The mindset and habits of the people you surround yourself with rub off. Use it to your advantage.
7. Avoid Information Overload Early In The Day
What’s the first thing most people do when they wake up? Check their smartphone. According to a study from IDC Research, about 80% of smartphone users check their mobile devices within 15 minutes of waking up every morning.
Within the first few minutes of waking up, they’ve already read dozens of opinions on social media, discovered five new to-dos in their email inbox, and found out about all the bad stuff happening in the world according to the news.
Instead of starting your days like this — which only leads to information overload, stress, and distraction — use the morning to focus on your mission. Your goals. Your priorities. Don’t be reactive to other people’s stuff, but focus on moving your life forward.
8. Use The Morning For Making
According to research, the morning is the most productive time of the day for 75% of knowledge workers. This is when most people naturally tend to be most energized, focused, and disciplined.
Therefore, one of the smartest moves is to use the morning for your most challenging and important tasks. These tasks require maximum mental performance, willpower, and focus. Since this is naturally at its peak in the morning (for most people), it’s the best window in the day to tackle your highest priority tasks.
One of my most productive rules is that the morning is for making, and the afternoon is for managing. In the morning, I do my writing, work on my courses, and perform other ‘making type tasks that require my maximum performance.
9. Use The Afternoon For Managing
In the afternoon, I tend to be more prone to distractions, have less energy, and tend to procrastinate more. This is why, in the afternoon, I perform ‘managing-type’ tasks such as email, meetings, admin work, and Zoom calls.
These tasks don’t require my maximum cognitive performance, so they can be done during those hours when I’m naturally not at my best. It wouldn’t be the most optimal use of my time to complete these tasks in the morning — when I’m at my most productive.
10. Put Your Phone Away During Focus Hours
The smartphone is the biggest distraction for most knowledge workers. If you want to regain your focus and get more done, you need to put it away for at least 2–3 hours per day. Put it in your bag, hide it, or place it in a different room. Do whatever you can to protect yourself from this major source of distraction.
Studies have shown that the average smartphone user unlocks their phone 150 times a day (once every 10 minutes) and spends an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones (the average millennial spends 5.7 hours on their phone). No wonder that a study by Microsoft found that, since the year 2000, the average attention span has dropped by 33%.
Therefore, during my morning deep work hours, I put my phone away and turn all notifications off. The payoff in extra focus and productivity is truly invaluable.
11. Have Fun
Some people are too serious about everything. All this seriousness stifles creativity and sucks energy. But it doesn’t have to be like this. I believe that chasing big goals and having fun can co-exist. In fact, they should co-exist. I mean, what’s it all worth when you’re not having fun?
Joke around. Act silly. Don’t get caught up in all the seriousness of doing business. The more fun you have, the more creative and energized you’ll feel. Fun fuels your success.
12. Focus On The Payoff, Not The Effort
I used to struggle a lot with procrastination and mental resistance. The problem was that I was overly focused on the effort while not reminding myself enough about the payoff of my work.
Instead of reminding myself how completing certain tasks and projects would help me grow my business, increase my income, or get me closer to my goals, I’d ponder too much over how much time and energy doing the work would cost me.
Only when I practiced ‘mental shifting’ was I able to beat procrastination and decrease mental resistance towards my work. Instead of focusing so much on the ‘pain,’ I started focusing on the ‘gain.’
For example, instead of pondering over the time and effort writing an article would cost me, I’d focus on how it would help me earn more money, grow my audience, and positively impact other people. This ‘mental shift’ turned out to be a gamechanger in defeating procrastination.
Now Do It
Remember, knowledge is only potential power. If you want to make a real change in your life, you need to apply what you’ve learned.
Therefore, as an action point for this article, pick at least two micro-habits and apply them in your life as soon as possible.