Marlene Oliveira

Structuring your Day for Maximum Productivity

By: Marlene Oliveira | January 27, 2015 | 
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Maximum ProductivityBy Marlene Oliveira

Almost exactly a year ago, I was looking up at a mountain of work knowing it was going to take a special strategy to tackle it all.

I knew I was going to have to produce, produce, produce.

At the very same time, I stumbled upon an excellent model for structuring your day for maximum productivity.

Time is money and productivity is essential for all entrepreneurs.

And in my view, nothing compares to simply scheduling in time to produce. This is how I do it.

Maximum Productivity: The Structure of a Kick-Butt Morning

For me, achieving maximum productivity is really about scheduling a productive morning.

Here’s what a super-productive morning looks like for me, borrowing heavily from Ed Gandia and the tips he shared a year ago on his podcast.

8:00 – 8:50 a.m. 50-minute productivity segment (Project/Task A)

  • Choose a priority task that must be tackled.
  • Set a timer for 50 minutes.
  • Start working on that task and only that task until the timer goes off.
  • Stop working and take a break.

8:50 – 9:10 a.m. 20-minute break

  • 10 minute walk.
  • 10 minutes of responding to email and social media.

9:10 – 10:00 a.m. 50-minute productivity segment (Project/Task A)

  • Repeat above productivity steps until Task A is complete.

10:00 – 10:30 a.m. 30-minute break

  • 10 minute walk
  • Grab a snack
  • Remaining time on email, social media

10:30 – 11:20 a.m. 50-minute productivity segment (Project/Task B)

  • Repeat the steps listed above for Task A.

11:20 – 11:40 a.m. 20-minute break

  • Often lunch—I’m always hungry early!

11:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 50-minute productivity segment (Project/Task B)

  • Repeat above productivity steps until Task B is complete.

I find that if I start the morning this way, I can relax and be more fluid with the afternoon, fitting in other aspects of my work that can wait, such as:

  • Answering/reviewing less urgent emails.
  • Client phone calls.
  • Another 50 minute productivity segment.
  • Professional development: Webinars, videos, reading.
  • More time to respond to and schedule social media activity.

The Benefits of a Maximum Productivity Schedule and Structure

Here’s what I love about this schedule:

  • It fosters discipline and focusI honestly believe one of the best assets anyone who works from home can have is the ability to stay focused. We all know how easy it is to get pulled away from our priorities by distractions or more enjoyable tasks. But we need to train ourselves to stay put until the hard work is done, and repeating this schedule does just that.
  • It ensures priorities remain priorities. As you can see, the productivity segments are based on tackling two major projects or tasks per day—and making a serious dent in them. To hit the ground running in the morning, I need to make thoughtful decisions the evening before about how I’ll allocate this valuable time. If I get a little off-track in the afternoon, I know I’ve already made major progress on the most important work.
  • It keeps momentum going. Sometimes, when the work gets tedious or difficult, the desire to flee the scene—or just procrastinate—kicks in. Sound familiar? However, until the timer goes off, I don’t allow myself to give in to this desire; a break is coming and I just have to earn it. Also, with this schedule, returning from my break to a second hour on the same task allows me to quickly get back into the ‘zone’ and maintain the momentum I previously created.
  • It boosts creativity. Working for hours straight without a mental break can lead me into a creative rut. A quick break does the opposite, often giving me the shift in context I need to tap into new ideas and approaches. My breaks also always include a walk—even if it’s just a very quick one. Research tells us that walking boosts creative thinking and I know some of my best ideas—and solutions to problems—come to me out on the sidewalk.
  • It supports healthy habits. It’s healthy to get up from your desk once in a while. It’s healthy to keep active, even if just in small bursts. It’s healthy to give your eyes a rest from screens. And it’s healthy to fit in small, nutritious snacks. These are all built into my schedule!

This productivity-boosting schedule is rigorous, but worth it.

When I first adopted this schedule, it was a major crunch time and I implemented it every single day for months. But I’m not going to lie; it can be a bit exhausting.

At this point, I use this schedule most days, but not every day. Taking a less structured day or relaxing the structure once in a while keeps me from feeling like a slave—to myself!

Are you structuring your day for maximum productivity? How do you do it?

About Marlene Oliveira


Marlene Oliveira is a copywriter and communications consultant at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity. She specializes in helping nonprofits to produce better content and has worked in the sector since 1999. Marlene’s approach is to work with clients and community members, tapping into the knowledge and wisdom they already possess, to help their communications ‘flow’.

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