“If you have a 10-year plan of how to get [somewhere], you should ask:

Why can’t you do this in 6 months?” Peter Thiel

1. Develop a Morning Routine

While there’s no ideal morning routine that will fit everyone, what is true is that most successful people agree that developing your own morning routine is one of the key factors to a productive day.  If you simply Google “developing a morning routine” you will come up with dozens of articles and facts about this topic.  The fact is that whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, your day WILL start at some point.

The key word here is “routine.”  You don’t want to re-invent your day every day.  By the same token, you will always be fine-tuning and adapting your morning routine to your particular circumstances (i.e. new work schedule, new commute, getting married, having a baby, etc.). If you start your day every day already stressed out and running around like the world is coming to an end, you definitely need to re-assess your morning routine.

2. Exercise Before Going to Work

In my case, I don’t want to have any excuses at the end of the day NOT to work out.  I exercise to stimulate my creativity and to refresh my mindset more than to take care of my body.  My most effective ideas come while I’m exercising, be it running, swimming, biking, karting, or completing any other type of training.  Yes, I manage to stay in shape too, but the main result of exercising for me is the replenishing of my brain.  A healthy mind will find no limitations and no barriers to the goals that you set for yourself.  The byproduct of exercising on a regular basis is that you’re also staying in good physical shape and feel good about yourself.  In my case, a healthy mind leads me to a healthy body, not so much the other way around.

Think about this.  Humans are the only species that will sacrifice their own health in their younger years in the pursuit of money, only to spend all that money later in their lives to take care of their poor health when they get older.  See the irony?  Isn’t it better to invest in your own health today?

3. Don’t Over Plan Your Day

Having a long “To Do” list doesn’t make you more efficient or more organized.  Just like adding one more item to your “To Do List” shouldn’t be a reason to feel good about yourself.  Yes, I use “To Do Lists” mostly as a quick way to jot down a new idea.  But the key is to execution (doing it) is to schedule each of your “To Do List” items on your Calendar and allocate a definite amount of time to get it done.

And because your goal is to get things done, the other important part is not to jam your day with lengthy tasks that, realistically, you can never complete.  3-5 tasks per day should be it.  Select a limited number of tasks, knock them off your list and start a fresh list for the following day. You will feel much more accomplished each day and ready to tackle new tasks the following days.

4. Avoid Unnecessary Meetings

How many times have you attended fruitless meetings where nobody really contributes with any new ideas?  Meetings have become the most effective way to be ineffective one hour at a time.  Thank you very much Outlook.  Everyone feels good saying “I have a meeting…” as if it were some sort of social recognition.  Nowadays, I hardly ever schedule more than one meeting per week.  Of course, there are exceptions, but as a rule, when you can replace a meeting with a specific list of tasks, assignments and deadlines for each of the people involved, you will find out that it is a far more productive way to get projects moving forward.  And one added tip; keep your meetings to no more than 30 minutes.  It’s the same as one hour but without the unnecessary chit-chat.

5. Let Go of Your Complaining

Think about it.  We are a society that complains about everything these days.  We complain about our jobs and we complain about not having a job.  We complain about the weather, traffic, restaurant food, shopping, you name it!  I always tell my team that when you complain about something, if you don’t bring up a concrete solution, you automatically become part of the problem.  Let’s all quit complaining and instead enjoy each moment as a real privilege so we can live lives to the fullest and be happy about it.

6. You Don’t Need to Be Always Right  

That’s right!  Being right is not a victory.  When you’re right, nobody remembers.  When you’re wrong, nobody forgets. How many times do we get involved in endless arguments with our friends just to prove that we are right?  So what?  As you get older, you will notice how much arguing over stupid things with people just to get the last word in is noting but a complete waste of time.  Being kind and happy is far more important than being right.  Think about that next time you find yourself arguing…

7. You Don’t Need to Be Always in Control

Trying to control everything and everyone is a sure way to “UN” Happiness and lack of productivity.  Let other people control other situations in your life, chances are, they will do a much better job than you would.  Show them your trust and they will make YOU happier and more productive.

8. Lose Your Fear

Fear of failure, fear of criticism, fear of what other people think… stop the madness!  Be yourself, do what you love and love what you do.  The heck with fear and all those intangible feelings that keep tying you down.  Liberate yourself from your own fears and you’ll find out how much your own drive and productivity will increase right away.

9. No More Self-Defeating Ideas

Do you realize how many times we create these invisible hurdles and obstacles in our minds that end up obstructing every goal we set along the way?  We are our worst enemy when it comes to defeating ourselves.  Keep moving forward, swat those thoughts away and help others around you do the same.  Productivity can be contagious!

 10. Choose Family Over Everything

And finally, save time at the end of the day to enjoy pure quality time with your family.  When you’re lying on your deathbed, will you be thinking about money or fame or career? Most likely, you will simply be savoring the good memories you have with the people who matter most to you and maybe wishing you could add more to your collection. The love you share and the relationships you have built will be your most rewarding possessions in life.

Remember, nothing in life is free, especially your time.  Everything has a cost.  And when it comes to your time, the cost is heavy.  You can never get even one second back.  Think about it… if you’re happy and healthy you can’t really ask for more in life.  You can’t force happiness and you can’t buy health.  But what you can do, is find ways to become more productive so that you can have more time to invest in your own health and happiness.

Thank you for reading.  Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)