The quest to improve one’s self is not a mystery as it lays in the wisdom that is known as productivity hacks. It is true that we all want to work more efficiently and effectively to produce better results. This could be in our work, relationships or even yourself. So we seek the golden goose egg and in the end the truth lies somewhere close, inside you and how you set your routine. For maximum productivity means maximizing the little that you have and making it impactful which can be done by adding a few things to your routine.
As American podcaster, author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss said ‘Focus on being productive instead of busy.’
Being busy can involve moving from all over the place constantly tackling tasks when instead you can be more productive by shaping your day better. Instead of going round constantly you can complete tasks in each area then move to the others seamlessly. Mental health improved, energy levels not depleted by the middle of the day. There are more productivity hacks to be explored.
1. Set the mood on your commute
We spend a lot of time on the roads going to and from work. It could be an hour or five minute walk but don’t waste it. How you start your morning can impact your productivity during the day so on your journey listen to something soothing but entertaining. Listening to news can leave you stressed out so switch to podcasts or comedic content.
As stated in Harvard Business Review, “because of our love of cars and big suburban houses, 75% of Americans drive to work long distances. The average American travels 16 miles each way to their office and 220 million spend at least 1.5 hours a day in their cars. 61% of people in the European Union put in 60 minutes per day commuting.”
If you work from home, your journey from your home mindset to your work mindset as you prepare can be your commute. Make every minute pleasant for you so you can feel upbeat as you start your day.
2. Set up a work email
I know it sounds minor but it really makes a difference. Using your work email to shop for the best deals online often ends with several subscriptions and sale notifications. It might be tempting due to the convenience but do not mix. Otherwise you miss important notifications and you are distracted going through your email. Oh that pair of jeans is 80% off, let me buy it and boom three hours gone and zero work done. You should also clear the unnecessary emails you have on the work email so you can have an easy time.
3. Priority lists are your friend
Prioritization is as easy as cracking a walnut with your hands in snow; frustrating. When you have many tasks to handle, you get carried away by tackling the top of the pile first despite it not being due for a week. Right when you are packing to go home you realize there was a lot you did not do and the deadline is today. You have to enjoy the bliss that is overtime.
To avoid the painful experience have a priority list. It doesn’t have to be strict but be enough for you to do your work and handle emergencies should they arise. When looking for a great productivity hack you need one that is a building block in your day. This means that each task completed works to make the rest of your day, week and month easier. Having your priority lists beside you helps in organizing your day and completing your goals.
4. Remove distractions
Losing your mental focus when working is a given when distractions are present. It could be a ping of a message or the conversations being held by those around you. Visual and auditory distractions are what to expect when you work with people so investing your time to find the perfect spot is worth it. It could be purchasing noise cancelling headphones or a tiny room with little to no noise pollution.
5. Find the zone
There are areas of your home where once you sit ideas start flowing. If you don’t know what your productivity space is then that is an assignment you can tackle. It could be the kitchen island or a standing table in your office. Your zone could also come through going on a walk or a drive. Explore your space to locate it. It is the best place to work and think as you can focus on your intended task.
6. Use a social media blocker
Do you get the impulse to scroll through your Instagram feed to see what new topic is being shared? If you do there are many apps that can help stop social media from affecting your productivity. First thing you should do is look at your phone to see how much time you spend scrolling through your feed. Once you know that you can create a schedule that satisfies you while boosting your productivity. Without the constant alerts breaking your concentration you focus on your tasks.
‘It takes an average of about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact) to return to the original task after an interruption’, –according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction at the University of California, Irvine.
7. Promodo Method
Are you bored out of your mind with repetitive tasks causing a decline in your productivity? Try the promodo method, it’s free, effective and helps with your mental health.
Developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, the promodo method is used as a time management system that encourages breaking work into manageable intervals. The technique is quite simple as long as you have a timer close.
First you break your work day into twenty five minute sessions and have five minute breaks separating them. Once you hit four promodos take a longer break of up to twenty minutes then go back to work. In each break you can take a walk, make a drink or do a breathing exercise.
The technique works well because you accomplish tasks needed without feeling overwhelmed in each session. By eliminating the burnout, following this will:
- Reduce procrastination because you can comfortably complete your work
- Keep you productive
- Keep you focused on the task you are handling
- Manage distractions
- Decrease your mental fatigue
8. Create your personal KPIs
What does productivity mean to you? Many assume by mentioning productivity in your work it means working faster which is not the whole picture. You are most productive when you are in great environment producing quality work. However as you work, you should have goals you have set for yourself in the form of performance metrics to ensure you are growing. Performance metrics are data and figures that represent your actions, abilities and quality of work.
Your employer might have theirs set up but you also need to have your own to challenge yourself to improve. When setting your personal KPIs focus on the small and achievable steps to keep you motivated and your goals achieved.
Questions to answer before setting SMART KPIs are:
- What is your desired goal and is it Specific?
- What metrics can be used to Measure your progress?
- Is your goal Attainable or unrealistic?
- What is the Relevance of your goal and does it matter?
- What is the Time frame for achieving your goal?
9. Try Habit Stacking
Habit stacking was popularized by the book Atomic habits but the man who coined it was S.J Scott in his book Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less. When changing your life for the better looking at things from a positive angle is better than the negative. This means that by adding new better habits to your current habits is better than subtracting from it. Habit stacking does this in a beautiful way.
There are certain habits you have that are ingrained in you such as waking up, taking a shower and then sit with a cup of coffee. You have a well-established stack so now what you should do is add a positive habit into it to make it better.
An example is after taking my shower I will meditate for five minutes. After having my coffee I will go for a walk.
Habit stacking works best when stack it with a current habit than a particular location. So instead of saying after coffee I will go to the gym, you can say after coffee I will work out. This build the habit so if you are unable to go the gym or there is a global pandemic preventing it, you can exercise at home. Habit stacking is great for long and short term progress.
10. Have a sustainable self-care routine
The value of self-care is immeasurable as it has a major impact in your life. You spend time online searching ways to incorporate self-care routines and which to add to your current. In the excitement you forget an important thing that is a make or break. Is the self-care practice sustainable?
A habit and routine is has roots in sustainability. Whether financial or time create a self-care routine that won’t become an unaffordable practice one year down the line. You might not have the one hour to meditate once you change jobs. Having self-care practices that easily blend into your daily tasks such as applying a face mask as you catch up on the series you are watching or a short meditations as the coffee maker brews your coffee.
A sustainable routine is a productivity hack that will boost your performance in other areas of your life. Instead of stressing about worrying about having no time for these activities, you know you can manage them no matter what comes your way. You will become healthier and happier.
11. Productivity Hacks Include Your Meals
A good diet has nutrients that are important for your growth. Having well balanced meals has many benefits one being the improvement of brain functions. Foods you eat impact the function and structure of your brain so eating unhealthy meals that is rich in fats and sugars can cause inflammations of your brain neurons as well as hinder the formation of new neurons. Its impact is not only felt now but in old age as well.
‘Evidence is now accumulating that supports a link between diet and brain processes such as our thinking, or cognitive, skills. Specific nutrients in food – such as omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, vitamins B, D and E, and choline – have been associated with improved cognitive function in older people.’- Ageuk.org
‘Inflammatory diet patterns that are high in sugar, refined carbs, unhealthy fats and processed foods can contribute to impaired memory and learning, as well as increase your risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.’- healthline
Make sure to eat when hungry. This can improve your mood as hunger often causes irritable moods. These can be a detriment to your work and career as your colleagues will not feel comfortable being in the same place as you.
In your work and social circles you have probably heard someone brag about how they never sleep. This idea takes root as you try to rationalize how sleeping less could mean working more and in the end get you the promotion you have desired for years. Sorry to burst your bubbles, truth is the numbers of hours you work don’t matter if you are not being productive. You can work for twelve hours but produce the work that if well rested can be completed in seven hours.
Compared to those who regularly got 7 to 8 hours of sleep, those who reported getting 5 to 6 hours experienced 19 per cent more productivity loss and those who got less than 5 hours of sleep experienced 29 per cent more productivity loss.- American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)
Productivity hacks are simply minor improvements you can add to your day to day but have a huge impact. Adding positive systems on top of the ones you have or replace those that aren’t working for you will also build your confidence in your ability to adapt to changes in you environment.