Sometimes crossing many items off of the to-do list is simple. Other times, being productive can be an uphill battle. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve the daily grind. The following tips will help you plan your week and optimize your daily schedule. 

1. Sleep plays a major role

In the newly released book, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype, Clinical Psychologist and Sleep Expert, Dr. Breus explains how people’s sleep patterns are tied to their personality types. He came up with different chronotypes to explain what helps each of the personality types function at their best in different aspects of life.

When it comes to work, the book reveals how aligning your schedule to fit your chronotype can allow you to work optimally throughout the day. Basically, you perform better at certain times of day based on your biology. His website offers a quiz to figure out what your chronotype is and gives suggestions for how to set-up your day for maximum functionality and how you can be the most effective based on your answers.
2. Plan out your meals

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance.” If you don’t fuel up properly, you won’t be as productive as you need to be. For this reason, I suggest cooking in bulk. Don’t run away yet. Now when I say cooking, it doesn’t mean you have to be a master chef. Throwing a bunch of drumsticks seasoned with salt and pepper in a crockpot doesn’t take much skill. It’s truly a “set it and forget it” (for about four hours) kind of cooking.

You can also chop up vegetables (or purchase already cut up veggies) to snack on during the week or have them prepared in advance to throw in a salad. Another option is to put together sandwiches during your preparing time. It doesn’t take a lot to make meals from home so you can quickly fuel up during the week. It makes life easier and can save you time and money. Pick a day to plot out at least a few meals for the coming days to maximize your time so you don’t have to waste any time figuring out what to eat. Ask people what they “fix and eat” that’s easy and write it down. This asking for ideas also gives you incredible insight that you are not the only person suffering from “un-chef-ty-ness.” This asking also gives you easy meals and great variety.

A friend recently offered to cook 2 meals and then I cook 2 meals (on Saturday), then we trade half of each meal. Fridays are for leftovers and [at least] the whole work week is ready food-wise. A dish of oatmeal for breakfast and a fruit or yogurt for lunch — done.

3. Make sure your mind is synced with your calendar

I like to plan for the coming week on Sunday. Whether the upcoming days are filled with back-to-back activities with little wiggle room or if I have larger cushions of time in my schedule, I’ll try to take steps to make my week run as smoothly as possible by finding out what I need to do ahead of time. Things wouldn’t flow as well if I didn’t plan ahead.

While it’s great to use tools like digital apps that sync with your calendar, if you don’t look at the calendar in advance, you will feel out of sync with what you need to do. For example, if I am scheduled to go to a conference or have an appointment somewhere I’ve never been before (even if it’s a town or two over), I make sure to leave myself extra time to get there. I also corral needed materials, pack snacks and see if I set aside enough money in my digital wallet. Depending on where I am, I might even carve out time to run an errand or get work done. Though things don’t always go according to plan, if I don’t at least attempt to map out some of these details, I won’t utilize my time as well as I can.

The Bottom Line

Take some time to plan the coming week. Be sure to take eating and sleeping into consideration when you schedule your time. You will feel more in control and get a better handle on time when these are factors are in place.

 

Karen is a Nationally Syndicated Personal Finance Writer who sharpens her skills at US News Money. You can also find her placing clients on podcasts and reading about home office organization, productivity and habits.

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