Every day we get up, go to work, go home, and go to sleep. Maybe our routines aren't quite that dull, but they're rarely perfect. Whether you feel the need to get more done or just feel better in general, we've got plenty of suggestions to help you upgrade your daily routine.
Note: This week's top 10 is in the order of your day, not by rank or anything like that—assuming that you start your day in the morning, that is.
1. Wake the F Up
You shouldn't need stimulants to wake up in the morning. A healthy diet (including breakfast) and a few tricks should be more than enough to get you going. I find that keeping my alarm in another room is really the only necessary trick, but there are plenty of others. If you want to go to the extreme, try this DIY money-shredding alarm clock. Alternatively, a video alarm may help. You could also just be too comfortable, need a simulated sunrise for a gradual wakeup, or some good, old-fashioned manipulation. If all that's not enough, you've had some great suggestions, too.
2. Make Breakfast Fast And Cheap
Most people don't eat breakfast in the morning because they feel making it is a pain in the butt or they're rushed and don't have time. But breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you should eat it, so if you're not (or it's just taking up too much time in your morning) there are plenty of ways to soothe your breakfast pains. Try no-bake cereal bars to take cereal with you to work, or super oatmeal. You can make breakfast in a mug in one minute or make breakfast for the whole week in five minutes. In an emergency, there's always this cereal omelette</a. For an extra bonus, work out first.
3. Go To Work Late (Or Early)
Yes, late. If you want to. Some of us have our most productive a little later in the day than others, and some people have them earlier. While office hours are traditionally from 9 to 5 (or later, these days), that doesn't mean they're set in stone. If you prefer to shift your work schedule earlier or later for any reason, often times you just need to ask. If it's not something easily negotiable, you can ask for it instead of a raise. Many companies cannot afford to give adequate raises to their employees, but you can get various benefits instead. While cutting down your work hours probably isn't one of them, you might be able to shift your schedule or even work at home for part of the day. Pick what works best for you and what will make your morning more productive.
4. Better Organise Your Work Day
There are many encumbrances in the workplace that keep you from getting things done. Sometimes it's clutter, which you can often resolve with the aid of a camera and a good re-evaluation of your space. Saving 5-10 minutes at the end of the day for straightening up is another good way to make sure you don't run into a mess first thing in the morning. Priorities are important, too. Just don't go overboard—that's counterproductive.
5. Cut Out Tedious Tasks At Work With Text Expansion
Assuming you're working at a computer—or reading Lifehacker when you should be working at a computer—there's plenty of software to help you cut out all the annoying, redundant stuff you have to do every day. Like type, for example. If you have yet to embrace the wonders of text expansion, your time has come. We have a comprehensive overview of the Mac OS X options to help you make your choice, our own Adam Pash made Texter (which is what you Windows folks ought to be using), and AutoHotKey works nicely enough for Linux. If text expansion is new to you, we've got a text expansion primer to get you started.
6. Enjoy Your Time At The Office More
If you're down on your job, your negativity could be poisoning the office. Or maybe someone else's negativity is poisoning you. First things first, identify that and cut it off. A positive outlook can make a big difference. If your unhappiness stems from a lack of energy, try a standing desk. (If cost is a concern, IKEA can help.) Or maybe all you need is more flexibility, which some people would even take a pay cut to get. If you're just bored, try to find ways to incorporate the things you love into the work you do every day. A little creative thinking can make your work day much better.
7. Stay Productive All Day
A timer can help keep you productive, as can your many gadgets (if you use them effectively, that is). Sometimes all you need to do is establish boundaries so you have balance between work and play in your life. You may just be bogged down by communication, so try sorting your communication through speed-appropriate channels. Don't be afraid to turn people away, either. You can use your door to communicate your availability so people don't bother you when you don't want to be bothered. And, of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention our favourite productivity tool: the endlessly versatile binder clip.
8. Upgrade Your Exercise Routine
Part of a healthy day often involves exercise, but exercise isn't exactly at the top of most people's lists. There are no tricks to convince you it's fun if you're already settled on it being torture, but whether you like it or not there are a few things you can do to make your exercise a bit easier. First of all, you should find the beats per minute of all your music in order to create the ultimate workout playlist. Basically, songs with a BPM of 120-140 tend to make better songs for exercise (especially running) because of their fast pace. If you want suggestions for great playlists for specific types of workouts, check out Jog.fm. Aside from counting BPM, you can also exercise better with the right apps for Android and iPhone, understanding the secrets of your gym, eating the right foods before, during, and after your workout, and using your breath and gaze to achieve perfect form. If all this hard work gives you a stitch in your side, quickly cure it by bending over and touching your toes for a few seconds to redirect the blood flow. If traditional exercise isn't right for you, there are always plenty of yoga options to try.
9. Do Your Chores Faster And Easier
Chores suck, but they're a necessity and they don't have to take hours to accomplish. It helps if you start from a clean slate, so de-crapify your home (if it needs de-crapifying). There are also plenty of MacGyver-style cleaning tricks to make chores easier and more fun.
10. Solve Your Sleep Problems
I hope you're not reading this before bed (unless it's on an eInk screen), because backlit screens are bad for sleep. If you're consuming caffeine before bed, that's a bad idea (as are other stimulants late at night). As previously mentioned, you need to eat a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is also when you should eat your heaviest meal, eating lighter meals as the day goes on. Also, we have top 10 dedicated to fixing your sleep as well as a comprehensive guide to ending your sleep problems.