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How To Be More Productive – 19 Productivity Hacks

how to be more productive

Have you ever felt rushed for time? Like you have been given to much work, with not enough time to complete it? Figuring out how to be more productive can be very difficult.

This has been a personal struggle of mine for years. I used to constantly feel as if there is not enough time in the day. I had all this work that kept piling up.

It wasn’t until I got fed up and started ruthlessly researching the best and most efficient ways to improve my productivity for me to realize that it wasn’t as hard as I thought.

This is my personal formula for how to be more productive at work and in life. Instead of spending hours researching on your own, here is your one-stop guide on how to be more productive.

1. Create a To-Do List

Starting your day off with a to-do list is a great idea. You want to write down at least 3 things you want to accomplish today. Start with the most difficult and important task first. 

Every day you have a limited supply of willpower, willpower is like a battery. So one huge benefit of your morning is that your willpower is refreshed. This is why you want to pick the hardest project to tackle in the morning. Then after that, you can move onto less difficult and easier tasks.

My favorite part about this is if you are able to finish your biggest task early in the morning, it is so liberating.  No matter what happens the rest of the day you will know that you got your most important task done first. You will not feel as much pressure over you and you will be able to work more freely.

2. Take Breaks and Use The Pomodoro Technique

This does seem counterproductive but let me explain. The goal is not to exhaust yourself or it will lead to burnout. It has been proven that if you take scheduled breaks it will lead to more effective work time and a lower chance of burnout.

To ensure you are taking breaks in the most effective way possible, you can use the Pomodoro Technique. This technique was invented in the 1980s and uses a timer to schedule work and break sessions.

Here is the process:

1. Pick something to work on or study.

2. Set a timer for 25 minutes and work the whole time.

3. Take a 5-minute break.

4. Every 4 Pomodoro’s take a 25-minute break.

During your break make sure you are getting up to stretch. Take time to get up and refresh your mind, this will do more for your productivity than you think.

If possible go for a quick walk outside in the sunlight is ideal. If that’s not an option for you at least getting up, filling up your water or going to the bathroom will do the job.

3. Set Deadlines (Parkinson’s Law)

Imagine you are in class and that your teacher has assigned a large paper that is due in two weeks. You are motivated to get working on this project, so you don’t have to do all the work on the final few days.

But things keep coming up, time gets away from you. Before you know it, there are only two days before the paper is due. You end up cramming all the work into a couple of days and have to hustle to finish the paper.

Ever wonder why this is constantly happening to us? Parkinson’s law states that work will expand to fill the time available for its completion.

You would have finished this same paper in one week if that’s when it was due.

Setting self-imposed deadlines is proven to help you finish projects in half the normal time.

4. Minimize Distractions

Distractions, one of the biggest destroyers of productivity. You must learn to protect your time, which is much easier said than done. 

It is nearly impossible to get anything done if you have someone coming into your office every couple of minutes or if you can’t stop checking your phone. Being productive relies so heavily on being able to concentrate and not having to constantly come in and out of your focus. 

Our phones are one of the biggest productivity destroyers ever created. Putting your phone on do not disturb can be a great start. We are drawn to that special sound our phone makes when we get a new notification. Another thing I would recommend is getting rid of as many notifications as possible. You don’t need 10 different apps trying to steal your attention away.  

What I have found that works better than “do not disturb” is putting your phone in another room or even putting it out of reach. What happens with me, is I have the urge to look at it and if I have to roll my chair over to get it, that is all I need to be able to fight off the urge. 

If you work in an office with other people, you may need to let them know that between certain times of the day you are not to be interrupted. You could even put a sign on your door so people can leave you alone. 

Remember 20 minutes of uninterrupted work is better than 40 minutes of work where you never have any time to concentrate. This is a time where quality is much more important than quantity. You can get much more done when you are able to get into the flow of things.

Social media is usually the biggest draw to our devices that we have. If your someone that can’t stop themselves from checking their feed while working then here are a few extra precautions you can take:

1. Delete the apps from your phone

2. Block these websites on your computer

3. Turn Your Phone to Black & White Color

In the settings on your phone, you can set it up so if you press the home button 3 times, it turns the color on your phone to black and white. Social media is a lot less fun without color. Leaving you more likely to leave the app under your own power.

5. Organize Your Space

It is much easier to work if your desk space is clear. If your desk space is messy it can make your brain feel overwhelmed and foggy. This is also a good place to start your day. Clear off your desk, this way you can avoid this problem and have a clear mind as you begin your work or study session.

Learn More – Organization Hacks

6. Set Goals

If you sit down and spend time thinking about your future and what you would like to accomplish, you are farther ahead than most people. People don’t spend enough time figuring out what they want.

Sometimes in life, you have to go out and take what you want. You are not going to master your productivity or start a positive cash flow business just sitting there watching life pass you by. If you don’t put conscious thought and effort into what you want, you will never get it. 

Setting goals is an excellent way to remind yourself where you want to be, what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to get there. 

I like to use stretch goals. Where you figure out what goals you want and what you think you can accomplish, then you stretch yourself out a little bit. You want your goals to scare you just a little bit. 

We are constantly underestimating ourselves and what we can actually accomplish. And this is how you can get even more out of your work. When you give yourself these types of goals, you are able to push yourself even harder than you ever have. 

After you write out your goals come back and review them every day. Why? Because what we think about most often, comes true. When we implant these goals in our head we will subconsciously be thinking of ways to accomplish them.

The law of attraction is real. It is much easier to spot something when you are constantly thinking about it. 

7. Complete Recurring Tasks at the Same Time

This is something I am really trying to nail down for myself this year. I have projects that need to be completed every week (just like everyone else). So I am trying to figure out the best system for when I need to be completing each project.

Systems can improve productivity by a large percentage. I am constantly trying to improve the current systems that I use on a daily basis.

8. Result Oriented Activities (80/20 Principle)

The 80/20 principle (also known as the Pareto Principle) states that 20% of the work that you do will produce 80% of your results. 

It was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of the income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes. 

Oddly enough it is found to be true in a large number of circumstances. So this is the part where you go into your life and find where it’s true for you. What is that 20% of the work that you do that creates 80% of the results that you desire?

I promise it’s in there. You just have to look for it. Once you find it, spend the majority of your time, focused directly on that. 

So many people are simply focusing on being busy, instead of being productive. You are productive when you are accomplishing tasks that give you your desired outcome. When you are busy you are just doing something, going through your email, or doing chores do not count as being productive. 

Minimize all the busy work that can be outsourced or completely dropped. Stop wasting your time and focus solely on being productive.

9. Take Care of Yourself

Your health is directly associated with your productivity. You must be taking care of your body. Focus on getting a few exercises in a week and just be aware of what you are putting into your body. Take care of your body and it will respond accordingly.

A healthy snack has the ability to boost productivity, meanwhile, junk food is likely to make you crash and decrease the quality of your work.

Also, sleep has been proven to play a major role in productivity. Make sure you are getting enough sleep on a daily basis.

Sometimes when you are learning how to be more productive all you need is to take better care of yourself. Your health plays a major role in your productivity and how focused you can be.

10. Focus on One Thing at a Time

If I can do multiple things at the same time, I will be getting more done right? Wrong! As science has proven over and over this is not true. By doing one thing at a time and devoting all of your concentration to that one thing you will be able to do many things well.

When you multitask everything suffers. When you do one thing at a time, you are able to grow from each interaction. It is impossible to do two things at once with a high level of quality.

When we multitask our brains are either constantly switching between tasks or we divide and conquer. As a result, the quality and ironically the quantity of our work suffers.

Studies have shown that we get about half as much done when we multitask and have worse long term memory. It not only makes our work suffer today but it makes the work we do tomorrow suffer. 

Not multitasking also means staying present with each project, task, and the person you are talking to. You need to be there mentally. This helps conserve brainpower and willpower for other tasks.

Amateur workers and entrepreneurs believe they are quality multitaskers. They think that when they do multiple things at one time they are getting more done. When in reality they are doing a lower quality of work.

Smart entrepreneurs and workers understand that when they have a singular focus they produce a much higher quality of work.

They only focus on one thing at a time and they go through each project from start to finish. They understand that staying focused is the key to how to be more productive.

Many people (including myself) used to think that if you are multitasking it meant that you were getting more done. In the book The One Thing, the author shows how the brain is only capable of doing one thing at a time. We are unable to comprehend multiple problems at the same time.

Heck, even computers only do one thing at a time. It may seem like our devices are multitasking, but really they are finishing one task at a time before they move onto the next.

11. Protect Your Time

Something is always going to be coming up. And you can’t always plan for it. So you have to do what you can to keep yourself productive and on task. Set aside specific times or days for your most important work.

That way when that surprise meeting comes up, you have the time to do your most important work, that you can fall back on.

stop wasting your time

12. The 4 D’s of Time Management

Delete

Ask yourself, ”Is this project worth my time?” A narrower focus often leads to more results than a wider focus.

Delegate

Can this tedious project that takes a large chunk of your time, be outsourced? Is there someone else on the team who has a skill set that is a better fit for this project?

Do it Now

I often find myself repeating over and over again that I must finish a certain task, but once I take a small chunk out of my time and just do it, I often realize it didn’t take long and I won’t have to constantly remind myself.

Diminish

Perfectionists like myself struggle with this one. Sometimes we find ourselves working on a project throughout multiple days when the project could have only taken a few hours. Can we diminish the amount of time we must put into certain projects?

13. Learn To Say No

Successful people say no to almost everything. If you say yes to every project that gets offered to you, how will you be able to work on that one thing, that could change your life? Never spread yourself too thin. As Tim Ferriss says: 

“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”

Protecting your time also means learning to say no. The people who say yes to everything that comes up don’t have time to do the important tasks.

If you fill up all of your time by saying yes to everything, when that one opportunity comes around that has the potential to change everything, you won’t be able to put all of your focus into it.

Your time is important, just like everyone else. The more you say no, the easier it becomes. Say no to those tasks and people that do not serve you and your mission. Stop putting time and energy into people that do not truly care about you. 

Learning to say no can be difficult. But just like getting more out of your time is important so is saving the time that you are given and conserving the energy you do have.

14. Manage Your Phone Wisely

When it’s “crunch time” and your ready to put your head down and work, your phone can be a productivity killer. Every time you write one sentence, or one line of data or finish one email, you look over and your phone is calling to you…

Here are a couple of tips to keep your phone managed and under control:

Out of sight, out of mind

Put it somewhere you can’t see, so if you want to grab it, you will have to put in a lot more effort.

Silent/Do Not Disturb/Off

One of the biggest draws we have to our phones is the sweet sound of a new notification. Once that “ding” goes off our brain is intrigued. What could that message have possibly been?

Cut Off Social Media

Social Media is usually the biggest draw to our devices that we have. If your someone that can’t stop themselves from checking their feed while working then here are a few extra precautions you can take:

  • Delete the apps from your phone
  • Block these websites on your computer
  • Turn your phone to black & white color

In the settings on your phone, you can set it up so if you press the home button 3 times, it turns the color on your phone to black and white. Social media is a lot less fun without color. Leaving you more likely to leave the app under your own power.

Use all your resources available to you to be able to learn how to be more productive.

15. Prioritize Your Tasks

You can’t go through your day just doing any tasks that pop into your mind. Make a schedule and block out your time. Make a schedule that says what you will work on and when. This gives your work purpose and meaning.

If you plan your days to be productive and to be efficient with your time, you are much less likely to waste it.

16. Your Work Environment

If your desk is cluttered with notes and documents it makes it much harder for your brain to focus on the task at hand. I always clean up before I start my morning work session.

What is in your office space? My office is a very special place for me, this is where I spend a large majority of my time. I have sticky notes on hand, my bookshelf is 3 feet from my computer and I can stop and journal if I start to get overwhelmed or confused.

Make sure your office is supporting you and your productivity. Being organized is essential to your time management.

17. Avoid Procrastination

Procrastinating is one of the biggest time wasters out there. Here are 2 tricks to help you stop procrastinating and start working:

Once it’s time to work, start a countdown…3, 2, 1 and start working.

Our brains are designed to prioritize pleasure over pain. So the countdown stops your brain from trying to talk yourself out of doing work and it gives you a deadline.

Another trick is to tell yourself “I will only work for a couple of minutes” then usually once you get into it. You will be able to work for longer.

Both of these help you get started which is by far the hardest part.

18. Use Technology To Your Advantage

We have talked about how much technology can waste your time, but there are so many ways technology can improve your productivity and make you more effective with your time.

Instead of letting technology hold you back, find ways to use technology to your advantage.

19. Celebrate Achievements

For the people who are really hard on themselves (me), spend a lot of their time working towards their goals (also me), this is extremely important. If you are never proud of yourself or give yourself time to relax, you will start to lose your motivation to keep going.

Even if they are small achievements, make sure you are taking time out of your day, to celebrate those victories.

How Do You Maximize Productivity?

Maximizing your productivity is all about how you go about your work. If you implement the tactics and habits above you will learn how to be more productive.

When you sit down to start working, you must have a plan. Do not overthink it. Figure out what your most important tasks are and get to work.

Why Is Time So Important?

Time is our most precious commodity. Some people would argue that its money, but if you lose all of your money, you are able to get it back.

Time is the one thing you can’t get more off. Every other commodity in the world you can potentially get back. Every day we are using it and every day we can’t get it back.

Just like it’s important to use time wisely while you work, it’s just as important (if not more important) to spend quality time with family and take time off. When you spend time doing things you enjoy not only does it make you happier but it improves your productivity when you return to work.

Taking longer breaks from work such as extended vacations have shown to improve your motivation to work after it’s over. Vacations give your brain a break from the constant grind of life.

Understanding time is essential to learning how to be more productive.

Key Takeaways – How To Be More Productive

I urge you to write down these productivity hacks, start implementing these proven techniques and strategies into your day to make yourself the most efficient worker you can be.

If you are struggling to finish all the work you are getting, the answer isn’t always to get up earlier and work until you collapse at your desk.

Sometimes life is more than that… focus on getting the most important work done and getting it done well. This is my strategy and I’m sure you can use it as well.

These productivity hacks are guaranteed to help you get more done. These will make you a much better time manager and a productive worker.

If you are looking to form better habits go here: How Habits are Formed

Thanks for reading and I hope it helped you understand how to be more productive.

Posted in Productivity

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