Many successful people are creatures of habit in some way; these routines to add to your workday are sure to crank up your productivity. Add one of these in each week until they all become intuitive.
- Batch process email. Carve out two periods in your day dedicated to email (if you receive a ton of email or are gun-shy about cutting back to two, start with three and cut back to two later). Adjust these periods as needed -- obviously, someone who gets 30 emails a day will need less time than those who get 100 or more -- but remain laser-focused as you're checking email and resist the urge to get lost in your inbox. Eventually, you might find that you handle time-sensitive email in the morning and nonessential email in the afternoon.
- Focus periods. Dedicate a separate block of time to cranking out work. Start with one hour and see if you can get away with two. If you have a shared work calendar, schedule this period as unavailable and, if necessary, explain to your colleagues what you're up to during these blocks. Use your focus period wisely and protect it dearly -- for many of us, it is the only distraction-free part of our workday.
- Weekly automation audit. Schedule 30 to 60 minutes once a week and use this time to review your most-frequent tasks and look for ways to automate them. Do you use the same phrases or answer the same questions in written responses? Create boilerplate text and use a text-expansion program like TextExpander to program shortcuts for that text. Do you send thank-you tweets when you're mentioned on Twitter? Consider programming IfTTT to do that for you.
- Exercise. If you schedule exercise and make it an essential part of your daily routine, you won't put it off when more pressing issues take over your day (as they always seem to do). I dedicate the middle part of my day to exercise, but folks with more-structured schedules may instead opt for an hour in the morning or evening.
- Active rest. The term "active rest" may sound like an oxymoron, but not all of us can escape during the day for a nap (my second preferred mode of recharging behind exercise). Step away for 10 minutes a few times each workday, if you can, for a mini-meditation session. Get into the habit of breathing deeply while you're working, especially if you're under pressure or experiencing stress.