You Can Basically Condense All Life-Coach Advice to Three Simple Steps

Being productive and sleeping late can go hand in hand—if that’s what works for you.

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Summer is almost over, which unfortunately means it’s no longer socially acceptable to spend the entire day sitting under the sun doing a whole lot of nothing. But if you struggle to put down the tiki drinks and get off the lawn chair, don’t stress. These tips from Nicole Bandes, aka The Productivity Expert, could turn any slacker—no matter how large an imprint they’ve left on the chaise lounge—into a go-getter.

Ignore the “Expert” Advice and Make Your Own Schedule
“Everything you read about productivity is only as good as the person who’s writing the productivity tips,” Bandes explains. “For example, just because someone says you have to be up at 5 a.m. doesn’t mean that’s what’s best for you.”

Rather than inevitably failing to follow a productivity guide tailored to some random person on the internet, Bandes recommends pursuing the path of least resistance. “If you’re the kind of person that enjoys waking up at 5 a.m. to work out, kudos to you,” she says. “But if you find your energy levels are higher when working out after work, adapt to that way of life.”

Be Good to Your Body
“Your energy levels [obviously] determine how productive you are throughout the day,” Bandes explains. “Exercising, getting enough sleep and eating healthy keep your energy levels up.” But that’s not all. Studies also link physical exercise to cognitive benefits, including improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity and lower stress. In other words, the better you take care of your body, the more you’ll be able to get done in each given day.

Devise a Plan
“Productivity is greatly affected by your willpower, and the more decisions you have to make on a consistent basis, the more your willpower is diminished [because it’s being used up making all those decisions],” Bandes explains. “If you plan things in advance; however, that removes the need to make decisions on the spot.” This allows you to save your willpower for actually completing tasks, rather than deciding which tasks to do and when to do them.

As for how to devise a plan, that’s up to you. “I always ask my clients whether they’re pen and paper people or digital people, and I get a 50-50 split,” Bandes says. “So use whatever tools you prefer to use to plan your day, rather than trying to fit yourself into a cookie-cutter mold that doesn’t fit.”

The short, short version: Figure out what actually works for you, take care of yourself and get organized. Everything else will work itself out.