As we get older, many of us become increasingly aware of one thing: time. We each have 24 hours in a day. 1,440 minutes. If you are one of the people who gets a full 8 hours of sleep each day, that leaves you with 16 hours (960 minutes) to do all of the things you need to get done on a daily basis. That seems like it should be enough time to get some stuff done. So, why is it that many of us get to the end of the day feeling as though we’ve accomplished next to nothing? It’s because we have not mastered the art of productivity. Here are 1o productivity hacks to help you and me both get more done in our day.
10 Productivity Hacks You Need in Your Life
1. Wake Up Earlier
One simple way to get more done during the day is to start your day off earlier. Even just an extra 30 minutes or an hour can make a significant difference. This is especially helpful if you have children who, once they are awake, do not enable you to get as much done as you would like. Waking up an hour (or a few hours) before them gives you time to get an uninterrupted jumpstart to your day.
2. Move Your Alarm Clock
Do you set your alarm to go off every morning? If so, good for you! That is a great first step However, think about where you place your alarm clock. It may be intuitive to place it right next to your bed. After all, you want to be sure you hear when the alarm goes off. However, when your alarm is right by the bed, it can be so easy for you to just reach over (in your half-asleep state) and either turn it off or hit the snooze button. In fact, you can easily hit the snooze button 2, 3, 10 times. By the time you finally roll out of bed, you’ve missed out on valuable time that you could have been getting “up and at ‘em”. Or worse yet, you're now incredibly late. Rather than keep your alarm clock (or phone) right next to your bed, crank the volume as loud as it will go and put it on the other side of the room. That way, when your alarm goes off in the morning, you have to get out of bed and walk over to turn it off. Once you’re out of bed, it’s easier to stay up and get to business. It also helps to open up your curtains on the way to turn the alarm clock off so that you can let in any natural sunlight to help you get out of sleep mode.
3. Have a Morning Routine
Rather than just going through your day by the seat of your pants, set a routine. For example, you could start working out as soon as you turn your alarm clock off. Go for a morning walk. Do some cardio. Do a yoga routine. Whatever it is that gets your blood flowing, your body pumping, and your mind more alert. After you workout, take a shower and get dressed. Then have a healthy breakfast and look over your plans for the day. I also like to meditate a bit in the morning to get in a good mental head space before tackling my to-do list.
4. Have a To-Do List
Speaking of which, do you work from a to-do list or do you just wing it and hope for the best? If you’re winging it, you’re doing yourself (and possibly others) a disservice. I highly recommend writing all of your daily, weekly, monthly, and one-off tasks down. You can use a planner, a notepad, a bullet journal, or just a sheet of paper. Or perhaps you prefer doing things digitally on apps like Evernote or Trello. Whatever your preference is, just make sure you write everything down. Not only does it help you remember everything you need to do, it also feels really good to cross things off your list as you complete each task. At the end of each day, look at what you have accomplished. Then create your to-do list for the next day. Migrate any incomplete tasks to the to-do list for the next day.
5. Make a Plan
It’s not enough to have a to-do list. You need an action plan to work your way through your to-do list. Take a look at your to-do list and decide which ones should be done when. For example, you may like to channel your inner Brian Tracy and “eat that frog” by tackling the toughest or most time-consuming task first o that the rest of your day seems less stressful by comparison. Or perhaps you like crossing off a lot of small items early, so you focus on the shorter or easier tasks first. You may even have some items that you need to do at a certain time (for example, dropping kids off at school, appointments and meetings, running certain errands, etc). Whatever your rationale, just try to assign a time or order for each item on your list. That way, once you finish one item, you don’t have to sit there trying to decide what to do next because it’s already been determined. You can just cross it off your list and move to the next task.
6. Batch Similar Tasks
I am a huge fan of batching tasks. This essentially means doing a lot of one type of task in the same block of time. For example, as a blogger, I can answer and send all of my emails during one block, autoschedule my social media content for the entire week during another block, and spend a few hours writing and scheduling blog posts for the month. Not only does it help me to get into a rhythm, it also enables me to get those tasks off of my to-do list for a while.
7. Work in Intervals
Rather than trying to push through your to-do list without taking breaks, plan rest periods throughout your day. For example, you mat find that you are most productive when you work in 30-minute spurts. Or 45-minute blocks. Take breaks in between each block of time. Even just a 15-minute break can be enough to allow your brain (and body) to recharge so you can power through the next block of time.
8. Avoid Social Media
Statistics show that the average person spends 116 minutes each day on social media. That’s nearly two hours! Which means that in the average week, the average person has been on social media long enough to consider it a part-time job. That’s crazy! Unless you are being paid to be on social media, there’s no productive reason to be on there so much. One way to curb the habit is to set aside very short blocks of time during the day to check social media. Perhaps it can be something you do once you’ve gotten everything on your to-do list taken care of. If you find it difficult to enforce this type of social media restriction, download an app or extension that will do it for you. Chrome Extensions like StayFocusd (it’s not a typo) allow you to block certain websites, block all but certain websites, and even bloc you from getting on certain websites during certain periods of time. It even has a nuclear option that makes it impossible for you to easily change your mind.
9. Turn Off Mobile Alerts
If you’re like most people, you carry your cell phone around like it’s an extra appendage. It goes with you everywhere. While this may be a necessary thing, it can also be a huge distraction if you have a lot of app on your phone that send tempting alerts. For example, you may have social media websites blocked on your laptop, yet your phone keeps dinging, letting you know about this new email, that new Instagram Live Story and whatever other things will distract you from being productive. I find it helpful to turn off al notifications- if only during certain parts of the day. Sometimes you can do this on your phone. Other times, it is better to go to each app or social media site individually and turn off mobile alerts. Those notifications will be there for you later. Personally I have notifications turned off for most of my social media and my emails. The only thing I actually have on is text messages and Facebook Messenger.
10. Have a Cut-Off Time
Although it can be tempting to work until you get everything on your to-do list checked off, after a point, it can become counterproductive. Especially if you are working past your exhaustion point. Exhaustion (whether physical or mental) doesn’t serve you well. You want to operate “on all cylinders”. So, I recommend having a time each day when you “clock out” and begin winding down. Winding down could mean having dinner and quality time with your family, watching a movie, reading a book, taking a hot bath, or just basking in the quietness of mind and environment. By allowing yourself a time of being “off”, you make it easier to get true rest so that you wake up each morning feeling energized and ready to go.
Can you think of any other productivity hacks that could help you and I get more done in our day?
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