Productivity Hacks That Actually Work
Everyone wants to be more productive. But sometimes it’s easier said than done. There are distractions, deviations, and low energy days that keep you from really hitting your stride and knocking out your task list. Thankfully, there are a few tiny tweaks you can do in your every day routine that can give you the edge you need.
1 – Put Your Phone Away
I’m not saying that you should put your phone on silent and set it aside. I literally mean put it away, as in put it in a desk drawer. An even better option would be putting it across the room or in another room entirely! You want that little distraction to be out of sight, out of mind. Even a silenced phone is a distraction if you are looking for a way to procrastinate, so don’t risk it. Just put it away!
If you’re worried that you’ll miss an important call or notification, then check it during breaks. But you should be able to sit down for an hour or two to work without your phone tempting you to procrastinate.
2 – Wake Up Earlier
I’m willing to bet that you only give yourself the bare minimum when it comes to time in the morning. You hit the alarm clock (bonus points if you snoozed a few times), jump out of bed groggily, and rush through your morning routine before bolting out the door, granola bar between your teeth. If that describes your morning, then you could definitely benefit from waking up a smidge earlier.
I know you’re saying that there’s no way you will do that, but hear me out. I was a late riser my whole life, but now that I’m getting up a few hours earlier, I feel more relaxed and productive every day. That’s because your morning routine affects the tone for your whole day! If you want to check out some ways to brighten up your mornings, catch my post about it here.
3 – Take Breaks
Our brains were not designed to focus for 8 hour chunks of time. So why are you trying to do that to yourself? You need to take regular breaks to give yourself some time to relax and veg out. Walk around, do some stretches, grab a refreshing drink, or talk to your coworkers.
Don’t use that time to aimlessly scroll through Facebook. You need a break from the screen, so don’t use your precious break time to absorb useless posts and updates that don’t contribute to your life. Look out a window! Smell a flower! Interact with the real world for a few minutes before jumping back into work and you’ll feel more refreshed and energized.
4 – Eat the Frog
This technique was made popular by Brian Tracy with his book Eat That Frog! (which you can listen to with a free Audible trial). Basically, the idea is this: If it is your job to eat a frog, you might as well eat it first thing in the day so the worst part of your day is quickly put behind you. So if you have an unsavory task that you are avoiding, then just do it first to take it off your plate. You’ll feel better for the rest of the day without that frog looming over you.
5 – Buy a Real Alarm Clock
Using your phone as an alarm clock seems innocent enough, but it’s horrible for your productivity. You wake up and immediately start checking notifications, emails, and news before your eyes are even open. You give yourself an opportunity to scroll through social media before you even get out of bed. And you generally don’t allow yourself any peace in the morning – which, again, sets the tone of your day very poorly. So buy a real alarm clock! I use this one and I really enjoy it. My productivity has increased significantly since I stopped using my phone as an alarm clock.
6 – Say Affirmations to Yourself
A positive attitude is the ultimate productivity hack. It’s so much easier to jump into projects and stay motivated when you feel good about yourself. If you constantly talk negatively about your work, your coworkers, your job, or yourself, then your productivity will suffer. Because why work hard when you’re miserable? Why try your best if you constantly berate yourself and feel like crap? To learn how to use affirmations, check out my post explaining this technique!
7 – Plan the Night Before
If you constantly feel out of sorts when you start your work day, then consider writing down all your tasks and to-dos the night before. It’s essentially the same as setting out tomorrow’s clothes. You’re saving yourself the effort so you can just jump right in without wasting a moment!
You can either prepare tomorrow’s plan in the last few minutes of your workday or when you’re filling out your habit tracker every night. However you want to do it, you’ll be glad you did when you can just sit down and get straight to work!
8 – Schedule Email Time
It’s so easy to get swept into the bottomless hole that is your inbox. You go to answer one teensy little email, then – whoops! It’s been an hour! Set time in your daily schedule to sit down and answer emails. If you get a large number of emails every day, then perhaps check your emails twice a day.
You can even delete your email app off your phone so you are forced to ignore the constant stream of emails until the time is right. This is one of those productivity hacks that will put the control back in your hands so you aren’t constantly stopping to answer emails in the middle of your work flow. Answer emails on your terms!
9 – Batch Similar Tasks
This little hack has done wonders for me personally. I used to try to write blog posts from beginning to end, one at a time. It was exhausting and inefficient. Now, I batch two or three posts together. That way I can do similar tasks in batches instead of one at a time.
For you, this might mean that you schedule several off screen tasks back to back. Or if you work with similar programs (think Adobe), then you plan on working on several projects in those programs during the same afternoon. This is efficient because you won’t need to spend a lot of energy switching tasks or mindsets. You can just slip into the new task with minimal effort.
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10 – Learn to Say No
Ever have it where you’re working and really in the zone when a coworker interrupts you for help with an unrelated task? It’s frustrating, but most of the time, you say yes. You’re afraid of coming off as cold, unfriendly, or unhelpful. But you should be saying no to many of these requests instead! Or at the very least, say not right now. Just because someone else wants your time and energy doesn’t mean that you should automatically give it.
Just say, “I’m busy right now, ask me again later” in a polite, but firm voice. It took me forever to be able to do that with my hubby (oh the joys of working from home), but now I’m able to brush him off no problem. And you know what? He understands! I simply communicate politely about being busy, and there’s no drama at all. Learning how to say no is a bit scary at first, but it’s one of the best productivity hacks when you finally get sick of getting constantly interrupted. Sometimes saying yes is simply a means to procrastinate, overcome procrastination and harness the power of no!
11 – Use a Password Manager
I wonder how many hours of my life have been spent on trying to recover a lost password. I used to try to write down my passwords in my bullet journal, but that wasn’t exactly the safest or most efficient way to store that sensitive information. That’s why I recently started using LastPass, and it has been heaven. Being a blogger, I have about a million logins for a million different sites, so a password manager is pretty amazing. If you’re ready to stop using the same three passwords on all of your accounts, then this is the most vital of all the productivity hacks in this post.
12 – Write it Down!
Stop kidding yourself. You aren’t going to remember that tiny piece of information that popped into your head. You’re going to forget it in five minutes only to have it maybe pop back into your head 36 hours from now. So just write it down already! Keep a small notebook with you, or just keep your bullet journal in your bag at all times so you can jot down that important note for later. Because your memory will almost certainly fail you, but a pen and paper won’t.
Tiny Tips = Big Results
None of these individual productivity hacks are all that big or ground-breaking. But if you combine even two or three of these tips, you could really have a big effect on your productivity. Gaining even just 10 or 15 minutes of solid work each day adds up FAST. So tinker and try new stuff until you hit your groove! You might be surprised how powerful these tiny tips are.
Do you have any productivity hacks you’d like to share? Comment your hack down below!