Learning how to structure my days as an online freelancer and business owner was (and still is) a mega challenge. So I figured there must be a way to train your brain so that it actually listens to you and doesn’t wander off into… wait, what was I saying?
I’ll be super honest here and just start by saying I am NOT a morning person.
I’m also naturally terrible at staying focused on one task at a time.
The reason I mention this is because you don’t want to be learning how to plan your days from someone who is naturally good at it. You want to learn from someone like me who has the attention span of a squirrel on LSD and has managed to find ways to be efficient and successful in running an online business from her pyjamas.
As a bonus, I’ll also give you a list of foods that help to kick your brain into overdrive.
No time to read? Watch the YouTube video instead!
When I started freelancing online and working from home it was the first time in my life when I didn’t have a teacher, a parent, or a boss telling me what to do and when to do it. I was in charge of my own schedule and as it turns out I wasn’t very good at it.
Eventually, I found a few things that helped to trick my brain into being more productive and organised.
So here’s what works for my crazy, overactive brain and hopefully for yours too…
Train your brain: Tip #1
Get up at the same time, every single day.
Personally, I aim for between 7:30 am and 8 am, even on weekends! Yes, it sucks, but it makes a world of difference. I used to have glorious sleep-ins on the weekend. My body would then absolutely not enjoy the earlier start on Monday mornings.
The only way to get over that punishing feeling was to start every day at the same time. My brain adapted over time and now it’s so much easier to get up and feel productive a lot earlier.
Train your brain: Tip #2
Have a hilarious, personalised alarm.
Getting out of bed doesn’t come naturally to me. So, I’ve found the two things that get me out of bed are a bit of humour and the sound of my own voice. (Weird, I know!)
I made a custom alarm with ‘The Circle of Life’ from The Lion King movie that also features me saying: “Get up, get up, get up…” Over and over again. It’s super annoying but there’s a science behind actually waking up to the sound of your own voice. Listening to yourself tell you to get up is a strong trigger for the brain.
You can just use a voice memo or a fun song of course, but I’ve found that combining them not only gets me to wake up but actually wake up happy.
Plus, The Lion King is just amazing.
Train your brain: Tip #3
Make the bed
I know, revolutionary right? It might seem like a small thing to do, but you can change the outcome of your day with the 30 seconds it takes to make your bed. It’s that small sense of accomplishment and an instant sense of pride that sets your day up for success.
A productive day requires momentum, so starting with a little win like this makes perfect sense and has helped me immensely.
Train your brain: Tip #4
Start with a tech-free hour.
I don’t touch my phone or computer for the first hour of the day. Aside from turning off my awful/hilarious alarm. Instead, I read for that hour.
Reading conditions the brain to be proactive – first thing in the morning – instead of being merely reactive to whatever is happening on your phone.
I used to have this urge to check my emails and Instagram notifications as soon as I woke up – it just wasn’t healthy. The result of that would be me staying horizontal staring at a little screen until I had checked everything. Only then would I drag my ass out of bed.
Instead, I now have no trouble getting up, cracking a book open and sitting down with a coffee to start my morning.
That covers my morning routine, so what about the rest of the day?
Train your brain: Tip #5
Do the hard stuff first.
From that point on, each day is different as far as client work or doing things for our own business, but the important thing for me is structure.
I plan at least a week in advance and plan each day from most difficult to least difficult because mornings are when my brain is most active.
By the evening I know that I’ll just want to be doing something low intensity like responding to people on Instagram while watching Netflix.
By doing the thing you hate most at the start of the day it helps to make the rest of the day feel like a breeze.
Train your brain: Tip #6
Scheduled meal times
Finally, I’ve also learned to treat myself like a lab rat and schedule my meals with an alarm, otherwise, I completely forget to eat. This is totally unbelievable to Nick, who is basically thinking about food 24/7. The fact that someone might forget to eat when they’re busy doesn’t really make sense to him.
Train your brain: Bonus tip
Eat brain foods!
As a part of my scheduled meal times, I try to focus on eating as many brain foods as possible. Just like the lethargic feeling you get after slamming down some unhealthy, fried foods – eating healthy, brain foods can sharpen your mind.
Here are my absolute favourite brain foods and how each of them helps:
Avocados – help with blood flow.
Blueberries – protect the brain from stress and aging.
Broccoli – full of fibre and vitamin K, also helping to improve cognitive function.
Coconut oil – helps your body create ketones.
Turmeric – keeps your immune system healthy and boosts antioxidant levels, also makes your brain more alert (especially turmeric lattes!)
Walnuts – improve your mood, protect your neurons and fight brain aging (they also look like a mini-brain)
Dark chocolate – improves focus, concentration and mood (and the darker the better!)
Water – the brain is mostly water so it’s a NO BRAINER that it functions better when you’re hydrated!
Other great brain foods include eggs, salmon, green leafy vegetables, pomegranates, nuts and seeds.
I hope these ‘train your brain’ tips help you to make some small changes in your daily routine that, through repetition, will help you be more productive.
Do you have any brain hacks of your own? Share them below in the comments!