Eight Days a Week (or Eight Tips for Boosting Productivity)

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Have you ever had a to-do list that was ten feet long and wondered what to do first? How about contemplating how late is too late to stay up doing one more thing?

Columns, Homepage Sub, Keri English  •  Feb 25, 2013

Have you ever had a to-do list that was ten feet long and wondered what to do first? How about contemplating how late is too late to stay up doing one more thing?

If there were eight days in the week rather than seven, these questions might not feel so pressing. Maybe you’re more of a thinker, as in thinking about what you should do and what can wait till later. We don’t like to say procrastinate, but we all do it so why not own up to it for a sec (perhaps it makes sense to want the extra day for simply having fun). If it was possible to do whatever we want and get a free reset the next week, why not have mint chocolate chip for breakfast and pinot for lunch? Might be nice…

I have been doing an insane amount of work this week and have repeatedly asked the universe for an extra day, to no avail. I mean why can’t we just have eight days once in a while? I don’t know about you, but it would really help me out. And on the eighth day we can sleep in and stay in sweatpants and eat whatever we desire without keeping any of the calories because really only seven days count. We could use our beloved Day Eight for catching up on the things that we need but don’t otherwise have time for. If writing, there would be a whole day that we could shut off the cell and just go do what we do best. If immersed in a good book, twenty four hours extra a week would be a gift! And if we have opposite work schedules from our loved ones or more than one job, we would all be off on Day Eight. Simply blissful.

Short of a miracle, it would seem that we will not be getting our lusted after Day Eight, but we can try to plan our week in a way that does allow more time for the things we love. Here are eight ways to improve productivity in our limited seven day week.

  1. Set a reminder to stop working at a certain time and begin to wind down. Tons of research tells us that a good night’s sleep is better than staying up all night cramming for a test or worrying about a meeting.
  2. Make sure that you do not have work or school materials in your bedroom. You will look at them. They will disrupt your relaxation.
  3. If you have multiple jobs, the best way to organize is to leave work at the office. For me that means only writing gets done at home and grading happens on campus and that’s it.
  4. Get a wall calendar and list every appointment that you have for the week.
  5. Fill in the weekends on that calendar! You MUST leave time for yourself. If that means your students will get their papers back two days later than predicted, so be it.
  6. Don’t wake up until you have to. I recently read an article that said having a solid uninterrupted night’s sleep (say till 7:30am without snoozing) is better than setting the alarm for 6:45 and snoozing several times. You are not waking up gradually. You are losing REM sleep that you need.
  7. Pack lunch the night before, lay out your clothes and set up the coffee to brew when you get up. Nobody wants extra morning stuff to do. Nobody.
  8. No eating in the car. This one may sound strange or even counter-productive. But you aren’t really saving time by hitting a drive thru, you are encouraging indigestion, anxiety and guilt.

In a world where we may not get what we wish for, we can try to make the best of what we’ve got. I hope these eight suggestions provide a little bit of solace that it’s possible to keep up. Even if our to-do lists never get all crossed off, we might at least stop self-sabotage to grab a healthy meal. We just might do it this week. Hey, a girl can dream.

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Keri English
Keri English is a native New Yorker with a penchant for pages both written and downloaded. Now a writer, editor and professor, Keri has also explored a bevy of mini career paths that have provided a wealth of literary ammo for the short story collection she is working on. Some of her favorite things include the scent of paper pages opened after a siesta on cedar shelves, blue Bic pens and black and white composition books. Keri's work has appeared in anthologies, newsletters, The Huffington Post, Indie Reader, Jezebel.com, USAToday.com, In the Powder Room and she blogs at kerialifeinwords.blogspot.com. Follow Keri on Twitter @WriteLoud

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