We all have the same amount of hours in a day, it’s how we spend them that separates the good from the great. Productivity seems to be an age-old enigma; how do we get the most done in the least amount of time? How do we guarantee we’re still doing high-quality work? How do we not go overboard with organization? One can achieve this by experimenting with the 5 productivity hacks below.
1. Schedule Blocking
This is the perfect way to map out your day. Instead of to-do lists you never look at again, or planning your whole life down to the minute, utilizing your time in chunks is the most efficient and effective way to ensure you stay on task.
All this consists of is breaking up your hours in groups of one to four, and only completing specific tasks during predetermined times. For instance, your first hour is strictly for emails, your second three hours can be allocated to working on your big project, your following two hours are entirely dedicated to brainstorming ideas. Of course, everyone’s “blocks” will vary depending on your job and everyday tasks.
This keeps your thoughts separate instead of trying to juggle several very different tasks back-to-back. You’ll be in email-mode then project-mode, instead of trying to switch back and forth. It will make your work quality better while also keeping all of your duties in order, and you’ll finish them in a more timely manner.
Schedule blocking is a more useful alternative to a classic to-do list or planner. When you’re using one of these methods, your brain isn’t entirely focusing on the task at hand. You’re always thinking about what you need to do next, whereas if you only allow yourself to do one thing during your “block” you can get in a zone.
“If you want to be more productive, you need to become master of your minutes.” – Crystal Paine
2. Create A Problem
Most people work better under pressure. By creating a “problem,” you’re giving yourself a specific thing to do; solve it. Without a crisis, there is no sense of urgency. The best way to do this is by first creating a question, “What do I need to get done?” For example, you need to get your PowerPoint presentation finished. The “problem” is that your presentation isn’t completed.
The next step is to identify how you’re going to solve your problem. Your solution is to create an outline, find artwork for each slide, and insert all the text and photos. This is more beneficial than just saying you need to “do your whole PowerPoint.” By breaking your project into smaller tasks, you’ll know exactly what you should be doing.
The block scheduling method goes hand in hand with this one. Solving your problem deserves its own block of time. A great tactic for this method is to give yourself a time limit for each item. You can use the timer on your phone. You can create your blocks in long periods with hours, or use smaller increments like minutes.
3. Limit Distractions
This one is pretty obvious, put down your phone, don’t open a Facebook tab on your laptop, stop excess chatter with your office neighbor. This one is also much easier said than done.
A great tool is the “Do Not Disturb” feature you most likely have on your phone. You can decide which notifications you see, and which notifications you don’t see. It allows you to focus on what is pertinent instead of Nancy’s new Instagram photo.
Don’t be afraid to tell your co-workers when you can’t be distracted. It will most likely give them more respect for you by being vigilant about your work. They will be more than happy to abide by your requests.
There are programs you can run on your computer to temporarily block websites that are time-wasters at work like social media. If you’re a twitter-addict, this might be a good option for you.
4. Stay Healthy
This tip seems self-explanatory as well, but it’s the most important one. Don’t get so wrapped up in your work that you’re not drinking water or eating unhealthy just because it’s quick.
It’s so easy to get super excited about a project, but you can’t let it take over your whole life. Always put yourself and your well-being above everything! You’ll get no work done if you fall ill. You’d instead take a five-minute break than have five whole days out of commission because you’re sick.
Always try to pack your lunch (this saves money as well), and keep a water bottle with you at all times. Dehydration is a massive culprit for illness.
“Sometimes the biggest gain in productive energy will come from cleaning the cobwebs, dealing with old business, and clearing the desks—cutting loose debris that’s impeding forward motion.” – David Allen
5. Don’t Sacrifice Everything
While following these tips, make sure to not sacrifice too much for your work. It’s okay to get Taco Bell for lunch every once in a while, and it’s also okay to take an Instagram break. You’re going to be more productive if you’re happy and enjoying what you’re doing.
If you’re completely cutting yourself off from everything, it’s going to be worse for you in the long-run. Everything in moderation works better than cutting things cold turkey. You should strive to lessen your “Instagram time” every week, or decide on different goals for staying productive, but you don’t have to stop having any fun.
Productivity is the key to success. By following these tips, you have a much higher chance of getting your work done on time, submitting fantastic work, and having fun all at the same time. You spend half your life at your job, so make sure you’re getting everything out of it that you can.