I had a really great conversation today about managing time, and ended up going over some of my most important learnings about productivity over the last year. These are some of them.

Start with self curiosity. Try to understand your daily energy levels (what time of day you are most productive), and design your day around that. That will be a quick win that will help you understand how to replicate productive times throughout the day. I started this by logging my time for an extended period to observe where it was being spent. Spend time to look back - I do retrospectives on a regular basis to find patterns and ways I can improve. When you find out time is being spent in a way, or a time you don’t want it to - try to take it back. It’s yours.

Improving yourself requires as much intention as improving your work. Remember that you and your work are two separate things. Externalizing yourself from your work allows you to stay calm. A good tool is to understand the emotional triggers that lead you into time-consuming thought patterns (stress, intense excitement). I do this with an anxiety journal where I write down “what happened” and “how it made me feel”. The act of noting these triggers itself relieves stress.

By nature, this list will get better over time as I learn more about myself and what makes me productive and happy.