The best habits for a productive workday

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The benefits of a productive workday go far beyond the task at hand. If you’re efficient and effective at work you’ll earn more money, feel more satisfied and have more free time.

A productive workday doesn’t just happen by accident. You’ve got to set yourself up for success, and that means deploying great routines and habits until they become second nature.

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Many of the habits we’ve listed here are trusted by some of the most successful people on the planet – and by many of the most productive people you know, too – so you should follow their advice if you want to improve your output.

You’re not short of productivity advice elsewhere on TechRadar, either, thanks to our guide to being productive when you’re not feeling your best and our practical self-improvement secrets.

Get started earlier 

No one ever got anything done by sleeping in late and starting slowly. If you want to wring the most out of every day in the workplace, you should start by waking up earlier and ensuring that time is consistent.

If you wake up early and consistently, you’ll have more time for a better morning routine. It doesn’t matter if that routine includes mindfulness work, exercise, healthy eating, or time with your family – starting the day well will lead to productivity later.

Waking up earlier, at the same time every day, tells your mind and body that it’s time to get up and get going. It’s the first step to consistent productivity.


We’ve all had days where plans fall apart, stressful situations arise and things go wrong. And when everyone has busy professional and personal lives, that’s inevitable. But if you start your day with meditation, you’ll be better-placed to handle problems with a calm, measured approach – and stop the day from running away from you.

If you spend a short amount of time every day meditating – it only has to be five or ten minutes – then you’ll improve your mental health, focus, energy levels and mood. It’s the kind of daily habit that can boost every area of your life, including your productivity.

Take regular breaks 

The most productive people you know don’t sit at their desk and work relentlessly for hours and hours – they know when to stop, too. You should take that advice if you want to build habits for a productive workday.

Studies have shown that human brains only have the capacity to work consistently for between ninety minutes and two hours. After that, our performance drops quickly. To stay productive for a whole day, you should schedule breaks into your workplace routine to rest and refresh your brain.

Whether you have a walk outside, take a short nap, grab a snack or talk with friends, you’re actually helping yourself stay productive by stepping away from work. We guarantee that if you take breaks you’ll get more done than sitting at your desk for hours at a time.

Get the hard stuff done first 

Energy levels change throughout the day but, for the most part, we’re at our best at the start of the working day – so you should ensure that you get the difficult jobs done first.

This habit isn’t just about crossing difficult or important tasks off your to-do list. If you finish them as early as possible, you get a psychological boost for the rest of the day because you’re not distracted by that looming job, you’ve already made a significant accomplishment and the rest of the day will seem easier.

Eat and drink properly 

No productive people spend their days snacking on chips and guzzling fizzy drinks. If you want to stay productive for the longest time possible, make sure that you drink lots of water even if you don’t feel thirsty – keeping your brain hydrated is key. It’s arguably a better boost than a cup of coffee.

If you want to ensure that you build this habit and stick to it, consider using an app to log your water intake or using a bottle that measures how much water you need every day. And pair good hydration with another habit, too: ditch the fatty, sugary snacks and unhealthy meals for nutritious meals and snacks and you’ll be more productive every single day.

Be smart with your scheduling 

Most of us jump around between loads of different tasks during the average workday. But, if you want to be more productive, you should limit this approach and try something different.

Instead, group similar tasks together – even if it means doing things in a different order. By “batching” similar jobs, you keep your brain focused on the job at hand. That’s more efficient than switching around, and by scheduling this way it’ll help you get more done throughout the day.

Limit time-wasting 

We’ve all spent too much time on our emails or social media pages, and if you can limit wasted minutes in those areas, you’ll be more productive.

Give yourself thirty minutes or an hour every day to answer your emails, reply to messages and handle social media notifications and, for the rest of the time, close those apps and browser windows. You’ll remove distractions and instantly give yourself loads of extra time.

Give yourself downtime 

If you want to develop habits to ensure productivity then they should go beyond your desk. Make sure that you give yourself time to relax, socialize and enjoy your hobbies – whether it’s something creative, something sporty, or even just sitting down with video games or a movie.

If you can do that, you’ll be happier, your brain will have time to rest and recharge, and you can switch off from the workplace. This is the sort of habit that encourages better mental health, and that will improve your productivity as well as your general wellbeing.

End the day properly 

If you want to improve your productivity then you should start your day properly – and if you end it properly then you’ll set the next day up well, too.

Stay away from electronic devices, don’t eat anything too late, and don’t have any caffeine. Reflect on the day you’ve just had, consider what’s coming tomorrow, and go to sleep at the same time every day – and make sure it’s early enough to allow you enough hours of rest before your alarm the next morning.

If you want to be productive, you should start and end each day the same way. Those are two of the most important habits and, if you follow those, they’ll make all of these other habits easier to heed.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.