Ah productivity. One of my favourite things to focus on and to learn about; and definitely one of my favourite things to attempt to master.
We’ve all had days when we feel super productive, and others when we get distracted by someone’s really beautiful Instagram account, and end up in a forever scroll.
For me, working productively is a combination of so many little lessons learnt. How to start my day. How to finish a day. When to say no. When to say yes . . .
You get the picture. There’s no one right recipe for how a day works productively for everyone. That being said, there are truly effective productivity tips which I’ve heard time and time again, which I’ve built into my routine. As well as little shifts I’ve discovered on my own.
For me, a productive day starts with a productive morning, and so today I thought I’d share how I structure my morning for productivity.
Alongside my routine, creating an environment which is conducive to me feeling relaxed, focused and inspired is the foundation of me feeling ready to tackle the work day.
I’ve partnered with The White Company to share some spring updates for my home office, so that you too can look to build a gorgeous office environment which makes you excited to head to your desk every day.
How I Structure My Morning For Productivity & Spring Updates For My Home Office
A Good Morning
6.30 – 7.30am (ish) – Alarm
I wake up at roughly the same time each morning. Sometimes it’s a little earlier if I have a yoga class.
Going to bed on time the night before, and getting enough sleep, is everything when it comes to my energy levels.
Good energy levels = a good start to a productive day!
Most evenings I plan on getting sleep which fits into a 90 minute cycle. Seven and a half hours is the ideal, and nine is a luxury, but even if I only manage to get six hours sleep, by sticking to the 90 minute rule I feel alert and refreshed in the morning.
This is a side note, but I used to hate the sound of my iPhone alarm in the morning so I changed it to a song I love. Now every morning the song plays, and I feel so happy to hear it go off. It’s a much nicer way to wake up.
7.30 – 8.30 (ish) – Health & Home time
Working from home, sometimes it is tempting to start work right away (I mean an extra hour can always help, right?!), but I’ve found that if I dive straight into work I am less focused.
I won’t necessarily notice the difference first thing in the morning, but as the day progresses I notice that my thoughts are scattered and I am more forgetful when I haven’t meditated.
For me, taking the time to look after myself first, means that my work day runs more smoothly and productively as the day progresses.
After my wellbeing practice I’ll have breakfast, shower and dress, get coffee for Oli and I, and settle into my work day.
8.30 (ish) – Set Up My Work Day
I’m so excited to write this bit! It reminds me of how much I love that ‘settling in’ period in the morning. Is that weird?!
Having a home office which is designed to assist my work flow helps hugely with my productivity.
Here are a few things which help to get me in a good mood for working:
1 Lighting a gorgeous candle – I currently have the Spring Signature Candle from The White Company burning
Lightning a candle signifies the ‘start’ of the working day for me.
As Jess Lively shared in episode #121 of the Lively Show, it is possible to make every element of our lives more pleasurable, simply by thinking what would make it so. So for me, that means creating a home office environment I truly love to settle in to.
2 Beautiful blooms within eye sight
I have written many times about my love of fresh flowers. For me, beautiful blooms bring a room to life.
Since I spend a large portion of every day in my office, it’s important to me that I bring one of my favourite home elements into my workplace too.
This gorgeous Small Bilbury Vase from The White Company is the perfect size for perching on the edge of my desk. I absolutely adore the colour combination of dusky pink roses and eucalyptus. I am re-buying this bouquet again and again right now.
3 A pre-prepared to-do list
I live by my to-do list, it’s the only way I can organise all of my thoughts and commitments.
I’ve recently got into the habit of creating a ‘master to-do list’ on a Sunday, which has all of the tasks I need to complete in the week noted down.
This then informs my daily to-do list.
Rather than starting my day writing a list, I like to prepare it the night before. This helps me to crack on with the tasks rather than the list-writing itself. It also helps to clear my head before bed so I’m not mulling over what I have to do the next day.
I love me a great mug of delicious coffee to get me into the swing of things at my desk. It goes back to my point about pleasure – the more at home I feel at my desk, the more likely I am to actually want to work, and work effectively.
“get the big things, or the things you dread doing, out of the way in the morning”
9 (ish) – Midday – Frog Time (I’ll explain . . . )
My friend Alex shared a tip with me years ago about ‘eating your frogs in the morning’. The notion being: get the big things, or the things you dread doing, out of the way in the morning and you’ll have a clear run for the rest of the day!
With this advice in mind, I try to use the energy I have every morning to tackle my biggest tasks. For me that might be a shoot, writing a lengthy email, or working on a proposal.
Anything which requires my undivided attention gets popped at the top of my to-do list as my ‘frog’ and this way I get the thing weighing on my shoulders out of the way.
This then leaves me clear to tackle things which aren’t as time-sensitive, or things which I want to feel a bit more relaxed for.
Trust me when I say, if you don’t tackle ‘that thing’ which is weighing on you, it will diminish your productivity. Avoidance only causes stress and distraction. Not fun!
The other thing I always do first thing is to schedule my social media. I shared more about the why and how of this in my ‘social media sanity rules’ here.
Midday (ish) – Lunch!
So this is where my productive morning tips close, but I couldn’t not discuss one of my favourite points in the day – lunch!
Actually all meal times are favourite times for me 😉
No matter how busy you are, taking a break is so important.
For one, stopping for lunch gives you a deadline to work towards, which I find helpful in terms of creating pace for my morning’s work.
And two, we all know that eating a good nourishing lunch, and getting a little headspace, allows you to head back to work in the afternoon with a renewed energy.
So stop when it suits you, eat something delicious, share it on Instagram (haha) and enjoy settling back into work in the afternoon.
Spring Updates For My Home Office
I’ve been working from the second bedroom in mine and Oli’s flat for the last eighteen months or so.
Each day I open the door to my office and can’t quite believe that I have a space all of my own to work from!
For years I have hopped between kitchen table, my sofa and a corner of my bedroom. Having a dedicated space feels like a total luxury and it also helps me to get into work mode when I need to, and to close the door on work when I am finished too.
You may remember my latest office tour which I shared here.
With that feeling of spring on the horizon I decided it was time for a spring office update. Sometimes it’s the smallest of changes which can make a huge difference, and I have definitely found this to be the case.
Here are a few of the simple spring updates which have made a big difference for me . . .
Spring Home Office Update #1 – I moved my desk
Firstly, I moved my desk into the centre of the room, rather than tucked into the wall. I don’t really know why I had previously tucked it away?! It feels so nice to have it placed centrally in the room, and it feels so much more spacious.
Spring Home Office Update #2 – I created dedicated spaces for everyday work items
I’ve been using the White Company’s white tray sets to create dedicated areas for the things I reach for most often. Including my stationery, hand cream, my phone etc. I love the balance which both of these trays affords my desk.
If you are a Pinterest fiend like me, you’ll most likely have noticed that every beautifully-styled space tends to feature a tray styled ‘just so’.
A tray is such an easy way to create a little vignette, and I loved styling up a tray either side of my desk. To my left I have my beautiful flowers, and to my right I have all of the stationery things I need for my day to day. By keeping everything within easy reach I find I don’t waste time getting up and hunting for a pen. Such a simple thing, but it makes a big difference as to wasting time.
Spring Home Office Update #3 – I batched things I need most often & stored them in one place
I am a huge fan of storage boxes. They keep things tidily packed away, and if you batch certain items together you always know where to go to for ‘stationery’, ‘batteries’, ‘chargers’ etc.
This gorgeous white rope storage box is perfect for keeping my chargers and equipment. I like to keep things like headphones, my camera and my various chargers and leads in one place, so having an attractive box which can house them all is super helpful.
Spring Home Office Update #4 – I got back to my mood-boarding roots
When I worked as an intern for a fashion brand years ago, I recall so vividly the mood boards which informed each season. I absolutely adored seeing the images which made up the inspiration for each collection.
Similarly scrap-booking used to be one of my very favourite things to do, and I miss it!
The moment I got my new pin-board I gathered my magazines, and my box of mementos, and got to choosing my favourite items to display.
I love having a physical mood board in my office which I can look to for inspiration. It reminds me of the overall vision for my business and I refer to it all the time.
Overall . . .
Overall, I ended up having a big clear out of things which had amassed in my office which I didn’t really need any more. I ended up filling two big black bin liners!
Spring cleaning is a real thing, and is just as important to do in your work space. After all, you spend so much time there, it’s worth creating an environment you totally love.
What’s your take?
Do you have any tips and tricks for a productive morning routine? How do you keep your work environment feeling as fresh and as welcoming as possible? I’d love to hear!
Love, Monica x
White Pencils With Quotes: The White Company
For a comprehensive list of all my office furniture – check out my previous Home Office Tour
This post was created in collaboration with The White Company, one of my very favourite brands. Thank you so much for supporting The Elgin Avenue’s partners.