If you’re like most people you don’t think there’s enough hours in the day to do everything you want to do. We all have the same 1440 minutes to fill, but some people seem to achieve so much in those minutes than other people. How? They simply use things that make themselves more productive, so we’ve compiled a list of productivity tips to help you make the most out of every 1440 minutes you have in your day!
These tips are in no particular order, but we’d love to know which ones you like the most or whether you have some we haven’t thought of.
Do your most dreaded task first – too often we put off certain tasks and then find ourselves procrastinating and thinking about it to the detriment of the tasks we’ve chosen to do before. Brian Tracey called it ‘eating the frog’ and I do think that’s a good way of putting it.
Turn off distractions – when you’re trying to concentrate seeing an email alert or hearing your phone ding with a notification can be extremely distracting. Try closing your emails down and only opening them at scheduled times, also turn off all your notifications so you’re not distracted by someone’s holiday posts or a funny cat video that your friend has shared. Although funny cat videos can be good – more on that later!
Schedule Breaks – Working a straight 2-3 hours isn’t the most productive use of your time for most people. We are all slightly different, but in general we work best in 20 minute blocks so every 20 minutes take time to get up and stretch and maybe every 40-60 minutes you can schedule a break that involves things like hanging out the washing (if you’re working from home), taking the mail to the post office (if you’re working in an office) or some other totally different task that your mind will consider a break
Exercise – exercising regularly keeps your mind sharp and focused and one of the best things you can do on your lunch break is to take a walk even if it’s only around the block. This gives you fresh air and exercise and you’ll find that you can concentrate much better afterwards and be far more productive in the afternoon that you would’ve been if you hadn’t exercised.
Eat well – making sure you have a healthy diet helps your productivity levels much more than you realize. Have you ever noticed when you’ve gone out for a big lunch with friends or family (usually over the holidays) you come home and feel like an afternoon nap? This often happens when you have a heavily carb loaded meal in the middle of the day.
Eating a wide range of fruit and veg helps to keep your mind clear (and also boosts your health in a number of ways), having a good serve of protein with your lunch will stop you feeling hungry and will help to keep your blood sugar levels balanced so that you don’t crash in the middle of the afternoon.
Planning your to dos – the night before make up your 1-3-5 to do list and on Sunday night plan your weekly to dos.
The 1-3-5 to do list is basically a list composing of 1 big thing you want to get done, 3 medium things you want to get done and 5 small things. It’s been found to be much more effective than the ever increasing to do list that some people use.
Dealing with emails – in this day and age dealing with emails is one of the biggest productivity sucks there are, this article on Linkedin talks about emails and productivity. Here are just a few tips:
- Only check them at certain times of the day
- If it will take less than 2 minutes to answer do it straight away
- If you have standard responses to emails you regularly get then set them up as templates/signatures
- Avoid checking first thing in the morning as it will bog you down
- Keep your emails short and to the point
Managing meetings – group your meetings back to back, if you have to have a meeting outside of the office consider whether or not you can do it over the phone or using skype/zoom conferencing instead. Also, keep your meetings on track, consider trying standing up meetings &/or walking meetings as these types of meetings seem to keep everyone more on point than traditional meetings do.
Stop trying to multitask – some people wear the ability to multitask as a badge of honour, but a number of studies have been released over the past few years which shows that people who multi task are actually not as productive. Stick to one thing at a time and see how quickly you get things done!
Get a standing desk – according to this article about productivity tips, a recent study has shown that using a standing desk will increase your productivity by almost 50%.
Turn off your monitor while writing – this is a really interesting tip that we came across fairly recently. Basically when you have to write something the idea is to just write it without trying to edit it and perfect it as you go – so turn off your monitor. It takes less time to proofread and edit for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors after you’ve written it than as you go.
Divide your biggest goal up into yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals and keep on top of them of them with the ‘don’t break the chain hack’. Sometimes big goals can be a little overwhelming and when many of us feel overwhelmed we find it often leads to procrastination. Breaking the goals down makes them seem a lot more achievable and allows us to easily work on them a little every day.
I’m sure you know that when you’re in momentum it’s much easier to keep going and that is where the idea behind the don’t break the chain hack comes from (as used by Jerry Seinfeld). Basically, break down your goal into a task that you must do every day – if you miss a day then you break the chain and must start again. Jerry Seinfeld basically had a wall calendar and committed to writing a joke every day and once he’d written a joke he put a red X on the calendar for that day.
Stop waiting for perfect conditions, immediate action is important as it puts you in momentum. As Arthur Ashe (the first African American male tennis player to win both the US Open & Wimbledon singles titles) says “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Drink more water – most of us do not drink enough water and if you’re even slightly dehydrated it affects your performance which means productivity is not at it’s optimum so do yourself a favour and keep your water glass topped up!
Learn keyboard shortcuts – these shortcuts can really save you time over the course of the day.
It’s hard to know how much time it will save you as it really depends on exactly how you’re using your computer for example one study showed that developers (writing a lot of code) can save up to 40 seconds per minute, another study showed that people who are mainly reading save approximately 4 seconds per minute (using shortcuts to switch windows, tabs, files etc).
When you’re informed of this information it really doesn’t seem like much time to worry about, but it’s amazing how quickly this time adds up so do yourself a favour and learn a few shortcuts. The other great thing about this is as you use the shortcuts you build up muscle memory and use them without even thinking. Here’s just a few that everyone should know.
Ctrl C for copy
Ctrl V for paste
Ctrl F for find
Ctrl P for print
Ctrl Z for undo
Ctrl Y to redo
Bruno Michels wrote an article on Medium.com where he calculated that using keyboard shortcuts would save about a month of work days every year – that puts those few seconds into perspective doesn’t it?
The Eisenhower Matrix – President Eisenhower is known for being a very productive US President and the reason he credits with how he got so much done was a simple matrix. Now known as the Eisenhower Matrix you can read a post about it here.
Watch Funny Cat Videos – it’s true! There have been various scientific studies done that have concluded that being exposed to something funny while on the job can actually make you more productive so that Darth Vader dressed cat on a Roomba is actually a video that may be appropriate in the workplace, personally I’m going to be watching Boxers on trampolines!
So there you have just a few of the productivity tips we have amassed over time, do you have any to add?