My most asked question recently has been about how I manage to post a new article on the blog nearly every week. While some of you suspect that I am blogging full-time, this could not be farther from the truth. I work a full-time job in addition to keeping up with the website, maintaining good relationships with my husband and friends, planning trips, and having fun! Keeping up with these new responsibilities certainly is a challenge; however, I find these extra demands rewarding and they have the added benefit of encouraging me to choose my priorities more intentionally.
While writing tips for keeping up with the demands of a full schedule, I realized none of them made sense unless you prepare your physical and mental self to perform optimally. In order to be very productive, you need to worry about you first. Have you ever heard the saying “You can only give from a full cup?” It means that you need to be well-cared for first in order to offer your best self to others. This article is about boosting mental clarity to help you give full focus to the task at hand.
My strategies for high productivity will come in two parts: this part will outline what I do to ensure my body and mind are ready for the demands of the day, and part 2 will outline tricks and strategies I learned to prioritize tasks and get the most done in the time available (coming soon to the blog).
Let’s get started, shall we?
Tip #1. Honor your body’s physical cues, and take care of those needs first.
This is something that took me a long time to learn. Sometimes I would use my physical needs as motivation to work harder – I could eat lunch after I finished a task, or I could go for a walk when my work was finished even if I was feeling fidgety. It took the physical demands of riding my bicycle from Seattle to San Francisco last summer to understand just how important it is to listen to your physical needs first to perform optimally. During this trip, I found the stress my body experienced in response to hunger, thirst, or lack of sleep was amplified; caring for these needs prior to making big decisions made a significant difference in my mental clarity.
Now that I’m back at home blogging, working a full-time job, and planning big trips, I’ve incorporated this into my lifestyle with amazing results. The amount of energy, focus, and joy I feel in a day is significantly enhanced by putting my physical needs at the forefront. If I feel hunger, I have a meal or snack. If I need to stretch my legs, I go for a short 10 minute walk outside. I also make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and get enough sleep at night. I find that I need about 7.5 hours of sleep to have a really productive day, but each individual has their own number so you may need to experiment.
Tip #2. Fuel yourself with nourishing foods.
This is another tip that became abundantly clear to me while I was biking long distances. When you are very active, how you fuel your body is incredibly important and has clear impacts on your physical performance and mental clarity. I think it is easier to get away with eating less nutritious foods when you are less active, but the impacts on your energy and health are still significant. I choose to eat mostly nutritionally-balanced whole foods meals whenever possible with this method.
Since our goal is to boost mental clarity and limit distractions, it’s also important to address cravings. Cravings often come from being hungry or thirsty and can be satisfied by eating a healthy snack and drinking water. Many cravings, however, are for foods that are not considered “healthy”, like chips or cookies. A simple way to address these cravings is to ask yourself, “is this food nourishing?” Some days, a cookie or a handful of chips may be nourishing, but other days you may find that you are satisfied by a healthier snack. The important piece here is to be conscious about your choice before diving in and to practice moderation.
Tip #3. Create a morning routine.
Studies show that how we start our day is incredibly important to the day’s outcome. Creating a morning routine that fits your lifestyle is a great way for setting yourself up for success. I find that making my bed as soon as I wake up gives me a feeling of accomplishment and helps start my day on the right foot. My morning includes a walk with my dog and husband, a delicious London Fog, a filling and healthy breakfast, and a quick journal check-in. In my journal I write a brief note on what I’m thinking about, how I’m feeling physically and emotionally, my intentions for the day, and things in my life for which I am grateful. These healthy habits create a positive outlook encouraging me to begin my work with focus and intention. Everyone may have different morning priorities, so it is important to make a routine that fits your personal needs.
Note: In order to fit these routines into my morning at a relaxed pace, I shower, choose clothing/accessories, and do any breakfast/lunch prep the night before.
Tip #4. Find your Why-Power
Now that your physical needs have been met and you are fully ready to start your day, it is important to know why you are doing the tasks you’re working to accomplish. For me, I’m very passionate about pursuing a healthy and happy gluten-free life, sharing my journey with others, and connecting with a community of like-minded people. This makes it easy to motivate myself to work on these articles! What is your Why-Power? I promise you that with a clear why, the willpower to pursue action will come naturally.
For me, these steps are crucial to starting the day on the right foot. Once my routine became habit, I noticed huge benefits to my mental clarity. On days when I skip these routines, I notice more distraction, anxiety, and overall less productivity. It’s helpful to recognize that consistency can be challenging before any new routine has been established as habit. I recommend choosing one or two of these strategies to start with, then gradually adding the others as you feel ready.
I hope these strategies help you move forward on the path to fulfilling your goals. Stay tuned for my next article on strategies for working effectively when you’re ready to get down to business!
With love and gratitude, ❤ Jamie