25 Productivity Hacks
25 Productivity Hacks to save you time
Productivity hacks are easy-to-implement tips to save you time in your working day so you can get more done effectively and efficiently.
But what does being more productive actually mean? The technical definition of productivity is increasing output at lower input. Put simply it is increasing sales at lower costs.
For many business professionals the biggest ‘cost' is the finite resource of time. Consultants, coaches, freelancers and creatives all provide services and products where time is the biggest input in the equation.
The following productivity hacks will show you how to make better use of your time and as a result become more productive.
We've all heard of: Work Smarter not Harder
But how do we achieve this? It's a combination of making small changes to your personal and professional life. Building on a foundation of good time management, each individual tip adds to your ability to get more done in less time.
There is a wealth of evidence to show that our attention spans are rapidly diminishing and that our ability to focus is being eroded by constant distractions – some self-inflicted and others over which we have little control.
We are simply achieving less every day!
In this blog post, I outline what you can do to gain back control of your day so that your achieve MORE with LESS.
1. Start the week with a plan
On Sunday take a few minutes to review your schedule. Allow sufficient time to prepare for meetings, to follow up and for travel time. Ensure each day includes revenue-generating activities.
It doesn't really matter whether you use a paper-based or electronic calendar. Use what works best for you.
2. Start the day on the right note
The first thing I recommend is to begin every day by allocating time to the three important tasks you want to complete that day. It's a good idea to focus on important and urgent tasks and not to get bogged down in ‘busy work'.
3. Eat that frog
“Eat that Frog!” written by Brian Tracy encourages starting the day with the most important first and to do it before answering emails and making phone calls. Completing your Most Important Task first is very motivating and starts the day off on the right note giving you an extra boost of energy when you are flagging.
4. Minimise distractions
Turn off notifications. There is nothing more distracting than trying to work when you have that really annoying pop-up appear on to your screen every time an email arrives or every time there's a social media notification. If you're not that disciplined use a website blocker such as Self Control, StayFocusd or Cold Turkey to prevent you visiting time-sapping websites when you should be focusing on what really matters.
5. Email productivity
When it comes to email, schedule 2 or 3 sessions a day to focus on replaying to and sending emails, rather than dipping in and out of your email inbox every time you receive a notification.
During your daily email sessions, if an email can be answered in a couple of minutes then it should be done straight away. If it requires more thought and research then schedule some time in your calendar to do the research and reply in full. If you can finish the day with inbox zero so much the better.
6. Organise your files
Keep your files and folders in a logical order. When using software, save your files frequently to avoid losing your work in the event of an unexpected power cut or computer glitch. Save time by using keyboard shortcuts and create templates for frequently used emails and documents.
For extra security use automated backup software or work in the cloud. For example, use the Google suite or Office 365.
7. Avoid the social media rabbit-hole
Use a social media scheduler such as Hootsuite or Buffer to save time by posting across a range of platforms. Set specific times for personal social media use.
8. Use your brain efficiently
Batch similar tasks together such as writing or telephone calls and schedule enough time during the day to complete them.
9. Have a ‘no meetings day' at least once a week
Make sure you have a clear agenda for your meetings and try to cut them down by 25%. If necessary stand up when you hold internal meetings. For maximum efficiency leave one day a week free of meetings.
Alternatively, schedule all your meetings in one day a week leaving you four days clear for deep work.
10. Minimise procrastination
If you have trouble getting started with a task or have the tendency to procrastinate when it comes to a difficult activity then just start. Begin anywhere in the project – it doesn't really matter as once you get started on a task very often the rest will follow.
11. Stop trying to multitask
Multitasking is a myth. Unless you are doing a routine task that only requires your subconscious, it's actually impossible to multitask. Have a read of this blog post on multitasking.
12. Be prepared
At the end of the day layout your clothes for the next day. Allow yourself to wind down by limiting screen used to within an hour of bedtime and try to get 8 hours of sleep every night so that you wake up refreshed the next morning.
13. Use the Pomodoro technique
If you have a project on the go which requires extreme concentration it's easy to get tired. My trick for coping with this is to use the Pomodoro technique which allows you to have regular breaks after a period of concentrated work. Work for 50 minutes straight and then have a 10 minute break.
14. Use password apps
If you have trouble remembering your passwords or even if you keep them in a notebook in your desk drawer which isn't very safe use a password keeper such as LastPass which means you do not have to remember numerous different passwords. This saves you requesting and resetting passwords across numerous different applications that you might be using every time you forget them.
For routine tasks which can be delegated, it's worthwhile outsourcing these to a virtual assistant in order to gain you more time to concentrate on valuable revenue-generating activities.
16. Streamline your financial recording
Use apps and cloud-based software for bookkeeping and accounting. Ensure these sync with the software used by your accountants. For example, I use Receipt Bank for recording expenses which syncs with Xero for my bookkeeping.
17. Chunk down complex tasks
If you are planning a new project, save time by reverse engineering the steps required. Breaking down a big goal into its component parts will make planning much more effective and avoid the likelihood of overrunning both in terms of time and budget.
18. Have a contingency
Allow time in your diary for unexpected and unplanned tasks. In addition, give yourself some contingency time during the day for things that might overrun. Human beings are not very good at estimating how long projects take so beware being overoptimistic about the time you allocate. See Planning Fallacy.
19. Review your environment
Research shows that having natural light in an office aids productivity as well as a comfortable ergonomic chair at the right height for your desk and your computer screen. Declutter your office and make sure you know where everything is stored.
20. Get up and active
Taking a break, regularly stretching and getting some fresh air allows the body and the brain to recover. Drink plenty of fluids and have access to healthy snacks. Some people benefit from a short power nap during the day.
21. Change your workspace
Vary where you work by visiting a local cafe or co-working space.
22. Find an accountability partner
Find someone to be accountable to, either a coach or a mentor or even another person in a similar situation to yourself. They will be able to hold you accountable for keeping to your plans and achieving your goals, keeping you on track so you reach your deadlines on time.
23. Use an app for saving articles
If your work requires research, use an app such as Evernote or Pocket to bookmark web pages and save screenshots so that you can refer back to them when writing up articles and blog posts.
24. Save your brain
Keep a notebook on your desk to note down ideas that cross your mind during the day which don't need to be actioned straight away. The brain is best used for action and not for storing information that it doesn't need access to immediately.
25. Celebrate your wins
Nothing is more motivating than achieving a goal. When you reach one, celebrate before moving onto the next.
If you would like to know more about how to save 10 hours a week for better work-life balance take the Homepreneur Productivity Course.
So there you have it, 25 Productivity Hacks to help you save time and have control over your week.