The Routine Successful Women Follow for a More Productive Workday

Updated 04/20/19

It’s not easy being a master of all trades—but that doesn’t stop us from trying. To help you in the ever-ongoing pursuit of thriving in your career, your personal life and beyond, we’re debuting a new series called Keep It 100 in partnership with Dole Packaged Foods. Each week, we’ll share helpful hacks and tips on how to balance the various interests in your life, and help you keep it at 100 every day.

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Tell us: What does success look like today? Is it making it (and killing it) as a freelancer? Securing your first round of funding for your very first company? Or perhaps climbing the corporate ladder? Thankfully, these days success isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. And while there are plenty of creative ways to get to the top, there is one common denominator we’ve noticed: persistence. 

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our peers and from the inspiring female leaders we’ve interviewed over the years, it’s that you don’t reach success overnight. There’s usually a steadfast, nose-to-the-grindstone routine behind the shiny headline. To that end, we queried talented, hard-working women in our office and beyond on the rituals they rely on to be as productive as possible during their 9-to-5.

Keep reading for an hour-by-hour routine to keep it 100 throughout your workweek. 

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Yes, it can be hard at first, but becoming an early riser is the first step to establishing a productive workday routine. Take the time to set your intentions for the day, squeeze in a workout, and arrive at work early. “I’m a creature of habit and feel off when my schedule shifts, so I wake up at 4:40 a.m. to hit the gym—that’s the time I get to relieve any stress and get my creative juices flowing,” says Caitie Schlisserman, one of Byrdie’s senior editors. “I can get to the office feeling refreshed, knowing that all I have to focus on is my work (not squeezing in a workout afterward).” 

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Once you’re up and out the door, instead of commuting to work like a zombie, use the time to make a checklist of the important tasks that need your attention once you get to the office. And since committing things to memory actually can expedite decision fatigue, Jodi Cararas, our GM of client services, uses her smartphone to catalog her tasks. “I have a long commute, so I use that time to dictate into my phone the important tasks I hope to accomplish that day,” she says. “Then throughout the day, I review my daily to-do lists and delete each one once it’s complete.” There are a lot of helpful tools that service this need, such as bullet journaling. 

If you’re a coffee-only person in the morning and like to dive into the day’s tasks the second you get in, expect the cravings to kick in right around lunchtime. Skipping meals is not ideal, and what’s more, unchecked snacking at work is a slippery slope. But when you have a demanding job, there will be days when your schedule is less than forgiving, making the temptation to reach for the sugary snacks too convenient to resist.

For that reason, we recommend keeping a stash of nutritious snacks at your desk. If for instance, if you need a pick-me-up on the way to the next meeting, reach for options like raw almonds or DOLE FRUIT BOWLS®. This all natural fruit is convenient, non-GMO*, and is packed in 100% fruit juice—not syrup. Keep them close by throughout your hectic day so you have a nutritious temptation within arm’s reach.

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Spotify playlist not cutting it? Believe it or not, ambient noise (think background chatter) can actually make you more productive. “I start to lose my edge in the afternoon, so to keep myself going, I usually do two things,” says Deven Hopp, Byrdie’s beauty director. “First I step outside for a quick work-free vitamin D break. Once back at my desk, I plug in my headphones and listen to a white noise app. Morning Murmur (basically coffee shop sounds) on Coffitivity is my favorite for drowning out distractions and staying in the zone.”

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Later on in the afternoon, pausing to meditate or do a breathing exercise might feel like an inconvenience, but it’s actually a great way to refocus. One Harvard health study, Breath Meditation, says the mind is a noisy place, and it’s key to stay calm when stress starts to creep in. “One of the easiest ways to reduce stress is to simply focus your attention on your breath. It’s a form of ‘entry level’ meditation that anyone can do. You’ll notice an immediate sense of relaxation that could help protect your health over time,” the researchers suggest.

Karlie Everhart, CMG’s director of planning, finds that she is more productive around 4 p.m. after she winds down from a breathing exercise: “If I find the day feeling more stressful than normal, I will find a quiet/private place and do square breathing. You take four breaths in, hold, four breaths out, hold, and repeat. I’ll do this for two or three minutes, and afterward I feel so much more calm and ready to conquer the rest of the day.”

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Some jobs adhere to strict 9-to-5 schedules, while others are more flexible—either way, it pays to get a little adventurous when it comes to your workspace. If the view from your desk gets a little stale, venture out to find a common area or a mini field trip with co-workers for a change of pace. Creativity doesn’t adhere to a time slot on a schedule, but according to a Stanford study titled Give Your Ideas Some Legs, one activity does trigger new insights: walking. So if the confines of a conference room are feeling too restricting, set up a walking meeting instead.

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The more advances you make in your career, the more responsiblities you'll accrue, which also means more temptation to take your work home with you. Taking inventory of your time during the workweek by using lists or tracking apps is paramount to keeping yourself in check. Find the perfect balance between life and work by learning how to segment the workload that starts to seep into your personal life by creating smartphone-free zones at home or intentionally leaving your laptop at the office three days out of the week

How do you Keep It 100 during the workweek? Tell us in the comments below.

*No genetically modified (or engineered) ingredients.

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