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5 Supercharged Ways to Be Productive in Stressful Times Never underestimate the power of your mind to keep you highly-productive during your most time-crunched days.

By Ejiofor Francis

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

10'000 Hours | Getty Images

Ever wonder why successful people seem to have more hours in the day than you do? Obviously, they don't. They just know how to make good use of the 24 hours they've got. And you can too.

Being highly productive is easy. The secret is in how you're able to program your mind and switch up your habits. Here are five ways you can power your mind for a highly-productive year.

1. Exercise early in the morning

No doubt exercise comes with a lot of physical benefits, but it can help improve your productivity, too. When you exercise in the morning, you get a boost of energy that will keep you alert throughout the day. It also keeps your mind sharp, which will result in working more efficiently.

Action step: Incorporate exercise into your morning routine. Do some cardio to get your heart pumping. At least 30 minutes of quality exercise will do wonders to improve your level of productivity.

2. Keep a to-do list

Write a to-do list for the next day right before you go to bed. Planning is the foundation for being productive. With a plan, you have something you can immediately follow and execute. "One of the main reasons why successful people become successful – and why they become even more successful after they've reached one level of success – is that they plan." That quote from Sigurd Vedal gets me every time.

Related: 9 Things Ultra Productive People Do Every Day

To-do lists can give you somewhat of a blueprint to follow for the day. It's also easy to measure your progress with your to-do list.

Action step: Each night before you hop in bed to sleep, grab a pen and paper and write out all the things you have to do for the next day. Don't overwhelm yourself, though. Restrict yourself to 3-5 important tasks that must get finished for the day.

3. Take breaks regularly

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? But your productivity depends on it. Working non-stop may help you get things done, but you could break down, and it will not guarantee that you'll be able to get work done in the subsequent days.

Why? Because continuous work with no breaks will increase your stress level and make you lose enthusiasm and zeal to work. And you can guess what that does to your mind – it will make working unpleasurable and your mind will do everything to make sure you avoid work.

Related: 9 Bad Habits You Must Break To Be More Productive

Action step: Plan your breaks. Work undistracted and uninterrupted for 20-30 minutes then give yourself a 5-10-minute break. To make sure you take those breaks, set alarms in your phone and schedule breaks in your planner or Google calendar.

4. Set deadlines

According to Parkinson's Law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion. What this means, in essence, is a task that would have taken you four hours to complete, could be completed in half the time if you set a two-hour deadline for the same task. With this in mind, you can use Parkinson's Law to your advantage.

Deadlines get your mind to zero in on the limited time available such that you find yourself working a lot faster to make sure that you hit the deadline. As a result, you get more productive with the tasks you have to tackle.

Action step: Set a deadline for each task on your to-do list. Next to the task write an estimated time it will take for you to finish it. You can also schedule it that way in your planner or Google calendar. To increase your awareness of the deadline, you can also set a timer each time you start a new task. Knowing the clock is ticking will help increase your focus on the task.

5. Celebrate your wins

I'm a huge believer in the power of celebrating your wins. When you celebrate your wins, you tell your mind that you have what it takes to be successful. This helps raise your confidence in yourself and your ability to be productive. Plus, it makes you feel good and makes being productive a lot more pleasurable.

Action step: Pat yourself on the back each time you tick off an item from your to-do list. Literally tell yourself "you did a great job right there" or "I'm proud of how you were able to finish this task." Or you could give yourself a little treat as a reward. Works every time.

Related: 18 Proven Ways to Stay Focused That Increase Productivity

Time to get highly productive!

It's great that you've decided to ramp up your productivity. Hopefully, you understand that being productive is all in the mind and that little changes here and there can do wonders. But you won't get to experience the results unless you take action. Don't wait — start right now!

Are you ready to be highly productive?

Ejiofor Francis

Entrepreneur, Freelance Writer

Ejiofor Francis is a freelance writer, researcher, physicist and advocate of high-quality digital marketing. He has over five years of experience helping companies create winning content distribution strategies. You can check out his company website EffectiveMarketingIdeas.com for more information.

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