How to Have the Ultimate Productive Day: I Try ALL the Tricks

By on June 4, 2014

I had an awful lot of work to do today and was feeling a little stressed about just how much it had piled up. Rather than cry about it though, I thought this could potentially present a good opportunity for me to do an experiment…

the ultimate productive day

Being someone who reads a lot of self-development and productivity literature, I thought I’d rack my brain for every last productivity tip I could remember and then follow them all to try and give myself the most highly productive day possible. On top of this I would use all the ‘natural nootropics’ (natural ways to boost brain power) that I knew of, and see if they could give me a bigger/as big boost in focus and creativity compared with supplements and medications like modafinil.

I’m now three quarters of the way into my day (it’s quarter past four), and I believe I’m ready to share how it went…

Prep the Night Before

In order to have the most productive day possible according to the literature, I couldn’t start on the day itself but would instead have to ‘prep’ myself by doing a few things the night before.

One of the most important natural nootropics of all is sleep. Sleep ensures you’re energetic and focused the next day and it cements and strengthens your memories and new neuronal connections from the day before.

The Best Possible Sleep

To ensure I could get the best possible night’s sleep then, I stopped drinking caffeine after 5pm, I removed all light sources from the room (even a little light can apparently make your sleep much lower quality) and I took a hot shower just before turning in. Having a hot bath or shower triggers a rapid cooling effect which stimulates the release of melatonin and growth hormone for deeper and more potent sleep. I also put on thin socks as this is supposed to help the body regulate its temperature better.

As I feel asleep I then tried meditating (simply removing all thoughts from my mind) so I would a) fall asleep faster and b) potentially skip the hypnagogic stage (where your thoughts go mental) and proceed more quickly to deeper SWS sleep.

Most importantly of all: I left my mobile in the living room.

Did this result in the best sleep possible? Well I must admit that I woke up feeling much more energetic than usual and have felt great all day. It wasn’t a perfect sleep quite though, because Hannah kept steeling the duvet (and apparently I was suffocating her with my pillow). I guess there are some factors you can’t account for!

Starting the Most Productive Day Ever

This morning I woke up at just gone 7am as usual after Hannah had her shower. We then had a small breakfast – bagels which is technically cheating – and then I made lunch.

Now normally at this point I would be checking and responding to e-mail while Hannah got ready for work. But another of the productivity rules I was following was completely avoiding e-mail until I had gotten some real work done. Productivity gurus like Tim Ferris recommend not checking your e-mail because it stresses you out and wastes your mental energy when you should be at your best. Further more, responding to e-mails is ‘reactive’ rather than ‘proactive’. It hurt, but I ignored my phone until nearly 1pm today other than to chat to friends on WhatsApp. Instead I spent this time reading and then playing ‘Rayman: Fiesta Run’ on the Surface Pro. Apparently computer games are good brain training, but that’s a pretty weak excuse. I just wanted to play me some Rayman.

After Hannah left, the next thing I did was to do a big workout. I usually work out, but not normally first thing in the morning. Training early though means that it’s out of the way, and it also means I get to benefit from improved energy, alertness and mood throughout the day. To get the most from my workout I used bodyweight training to improve my proprioception and strengthen my central nervous system. Exercise along with sleep is another thing people consider to be one of the best natural nootropics.

Next I showered, and then I had my ‘proper breakfast’: The Breakfast of Champions. Among other things this includes bananas for dopamine (mood boosting) and eggs for amino acids and choline. I also supplemented my breakfast with extra choline, with odourless garlic and some more amino acids. Choline is a precursor to acetylecholine which is in turn an important neurotransmitter that’s crucial for memory, cognition and sleep. Odourless garlic is a great supplement for getting lean, but it’s also a vasodilator which means it can help more blood and nutrients get around the body and to the brain. These are all substances found in food so they can be considered ‘natural’ nootropics unlike something like Piracetam.

The Day

The handy thing about my job is that it makes it very easy for me to measure my productivity. I am a freelance content writer for webmasters and SEO companies and I charge a relatively small fee meaning I need to write a lot to make my living. On the best days I write 10,000 words+, but often I fall short of this.

Today I took myself into a coffee shop so I would be completely free of distractions and had a white Americano to get a boost from some caffeine. I also wore a t-shirt I liked and gelled my hair, because another common productivity tip is to ‘dress for the job you want’.

I stayed good and didn’t check my e-mail until nearly 1pm by which time I’d already written 5,000 words. After checking my e-mail I still felt productive and managed to stay focused churning out a further 6,100 words. All this having already done my daily workout.

I returned home for a power nap. Studies suggest that we actually function better when we take small naps and this time the hypnagogic sleep can actually be a good thing in helping us to cement memories and stay focused. As long as you keep your sleep under 40 minutes you won’t enter slow wave sleep and won’t feel groggy (that also means you don’t get growth hormone benefits). I slept for 10 minutes and then returned to work. To begin with I wrote this: 1,043 words in 15 minutes.

In total then I’ve already written 12,100 words, answered e-mails, done a workout and edited two other articles that needed changing. I also ticked a few things off my checklist such as sending a message I needed to send and had been putting off.

I have two hours left now and I’m pretty sure I can get to 17,100 words by the end of the day. Even working back at home where distractions are rife.

Of course there are some confounding factors here: such as possible placebo effects. And it may be that tomorrow I’m too worn out to do the same thing again. On the face of it though, it seems to have worked and I’m actually going to introduce some of these lifestyle changes on a more permanent basis. The socks can go, but I’m keeping the room dark and my phone in the living room. E-mail checking is now something I will only do after 12pm. It turns out the productivity gurus might be right after all. I’ll let you know if the winning streak continues.

And if any of you have any other productivity tips you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments. Have a productive day!

Subscribe below for more!



About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!