The last hour of the day

Winding down before you go to bed will help you sleep better and prepare your mind for the next day.

Write down everything you usually do in the last hour of a typical day. How many activities involve a screen? Do you spend time with your family? Do you read a book? Do you think you have bad habits in the evening?

Consider what you want to change and implement it in your evening routine.

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Mindful productivity audit: 10 questions to improve your well-being at work

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Research suggests a knowledge worker should spend four hours of deep creative, highly productive work per day.

How many hours do you currently dedicate to deep work? Look at your calendar and count the hours spent in deep work.

If you have too many hours, try to unblock some time for lighter work or recharging your mental energy. If you have too few, try and rearrange your time commitments to make space for up to four hours of deep work per day.

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A huge number of productivity books have been published but very few of these books combine productivity, creativity, and mental health. How do you achieve more without burning out in the process?

Using a mindful productivity audit is one way to assess your current systems and evaluate if you can perform better while taking care of your mind.

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People working from home can be tempted to keep working until they feel too tired to keep going.

Creating habits, routines and rituals to frame your workday is essential for sustainable performance.

  • Create a hard stop at a specific time.
  • Another approach is to give yourself a specific number of work hours per day, which is more flexible as you can start and stop earlier or later.
  • Shift your focus from time to actual productivity by creating an adequate list of tasks for the day. Once the tasks are done, you are done.

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The first hour is the most important part of your day. It impacts your mindset by setting the tone for the rest of the day. A routine designed around your goals will always trump one that is based on habits you haven't thought about.

  • What is the first thing you do in the morning? Write it down. Be as detailed as possible: getting up, brushing your teeth... until you sit down at your desk.
  • What could be improved?
  • Do you have any bad habits you want to better manage?

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It is easy for knowledge workers to accumulate screenshots and random files on their computer "just in case". Performing an audit of your digital workspace can reduce your cognitive load.

  • What does your desktop currently look like?
  • What apps are installed? Which ones do you regularly use?
  • What tools do you use to manage your knowledge?
  • Take some time to consolidate, declutter and clean up the files on your computer. Explore potential tools for thought, such as a note-taking app.

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When we have lots of work, we can fall into the trap of neglecting to nourish our mind with enough high-quality input. Ways to cultivate curiosity include reading books, blogs, newsletters, taking online courses, joining learning communities, and more.

  • Do you make space for cultivating your curiosity, exploring new ideas, and expanding your knowledge?
  • Make a list of all the ways you cultivate your curiosity. Consider if these opportunities are aligned with your goals.

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Instead of mindlessly repeating the same action with little regard for how they impact your performance, ensure you have time and space to reflect and incrementally improve the way you work.

A weekly review is a powerful way to direct your life with intention. It may be in the form of journaling. Include questions to assess what is going well, what is difficult, and what your focus should be during the following week.

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Taking breaks restore your motivation, consolidate your memory, increase your creativity, and prevent decision fatigue. Research suggests we need to take a break for 5 to 10 minutes every hour or so and a longer break (more than 30 minutes) every two to four hours.

Look at your calendar, and ensure you have a combination of short and long breaks during the day. During a break, move your body, do some deep breathing, chat with your peers, or go for a walk outside.

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A calendar is a helpful tool to manage your time. It is there to guide you, not to rule you.

Review a typical week in your calendar.

  • How many events are there?
  • How many events did you create, and how many invitations did you receive?
  • Could any of these meetings have been replaced by email or a shared document?

Start exploring ways to improve your time management systems. It might be useful to block some time at the start of the day to adjust your calendar.

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Your working space can have an impact on your productivity. When working from home, are you crouching on the kitchen table or working from your sofa?

Ask yourself:
Is my chair is comfortable?
What is my posture when I am sitting?
Is the screen at eye level?
Do I get enough light?
Do I have access to liquids to stay hydrated throughout the day?
Do I enjoy my workspace?

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Your workspace matters

When you spend hours at your desk every day, even the smallest features of your workspace – such as the position of your monitor or the height of your chair– can greatly affect your productivity and even your health.

With a few adjustments you can improve your working environment and keep your desk from killing you.

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The desire to procrastinate is a healthy brain craving, a natural need for novelty and curiosity. We must stop the negative self-talk we have towards us not working as a machine all the time. The leisure ‘do nothing’ time is extremely important for the brain's creative juices to start flowing.

Our feeling guilty and ashamed will only hinder our progress.

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Your Desk: The Optimal Choice

The “sit-stand desk” is the optimal choice, because you can sit for a portion of the day and stand for the other portion.

Put your monitor high enough to keep your neck straight, set your keyboard position for 90 degree elbows, and your desk height for feet flat on the floor.

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