Here are 50 ways to increase your productivity and add hours to your day.
1. Take a break. You can’t always be working at optimum productivity. Instead, you should shoot for working in short bursts at your most productive times.
2. Set a timer for each of your tasks.
3. Eliminate all distractions. This includes the phone, email notifications, and having multiple web browsers open on the desktop.
4. Distractions should be avoided, but sometimes a bit of music in the background can help you focus. Of course, it doesn’t need to be heavy rock music, but a bit of Beethoven may do you some good.
5. Love what you do. Enjoying what you do is the ultimate way to increase your productivity.
6. Complete your most dreaded tasks first thing in the morning. Whichever activity you are dreading the most is probably the one you need to complete first thing in the morning.
7. Use JDarkRoom. This application allows you to write more efficiently by removing all distractions. You’re given an entirely blank page on which to type. This way, you’re not distracted by the web, e-mail, or IM. When you’re done, you can save your work as a text file.
8. Just start. Often times, starting is the hardest part. Once you get going, you will quickly get into a rhythm that could last for hours.
9. Everyone has a certain time of the day in which they are more productive than others. For me, it’s the morning. Find out when your prime time is for productivity and optimize your work schedule accordingly.
10. Keep a notebook and pen on hand at all times. This way, you can write down your thoughts, to-dos, and ideas at any time. The key is to get everything out of your head and onto paper. This way, your subconscious mind won’t be reminding you about it every other second.
11. Write a blog to chronicle your own personal development and achievements. This keeps you accountable and always working towards self improvement and personal growth.
12. Plan out all of your meals a week ahead and make your grocery list accordingly. This will save you quite a bit of time and money.
13. Step away from the computer. The Internet has become one of the number one distractions. To increase your productivity, try to do as much of your work offline as possible. I do this a lot with my writing and have found it to be very beneficial to simply unplug.
14. Write out a to-list each day. I like to plan my day the night before. This way, I can get started on my most important tasks as soon as I wake up.
15. As you go throughout your day, repeatedly ask yourself, “Am I currently making the best possible use of my time?” This one simple question can be an excellent boost to your productivity.
16. Get plenty of sleep. When you work online, sleep can become a long lost memory. However, it’s important to get plenty of sleep so that your working hours can be as productive as possible.
17. Exercise. Research has shown that midday exercise boosts productivity and morale in the workplace. Take a short walk at lunch to maximize your productivity.
18. Organize your office. The piles of paper around your desk can be a huge barrier on your productivity. Optimize your time by organizing your office, setting up a system, and dumping the junk.
19. Outsource as much as possible. Here are just a few of the companies that will help you outsource your everyday tasks:
20. Use a Tivo or DVR to cut an hour-long television show down to just 40 minutes.
21. Turn off the TV. The average American watches more than 4 hours of television every day. Over a 65-year life, that’s 9 years glued to the tube. Turn off the TV and you are sure to get
more out of life.
22. Listen to educational audio books while you’re driving to work, cleaning the house, exercising, or cooking dinner. Audio learning has the power to add hours to your day. Not to mention, your cranium is sure to thank you for it.
23. Auto pay your bills. This will save you time and eliminate late fees and increased interest rates.
24. Read David Allen’s best-selling book Getting Things Done. This is one of the most important productivity books you will ever read.
25. Focus on result-oriented activities. Pareto’s law states that 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs. This means that 20% of our actions result in 80% of the results. We must find the 20% that is creating the 80% of our desired outcomes and focus solely on those
26. Take shorter showers. This one may sound silly but it’s actually something I struggle with. I spend up to 30 minutes in the shower. Think of the time I could save simply by speeding up a bit.
27. Tell other people about your goals and you will instantly be held accountable.
28. Learn to say “No”. We can’t do everything and therefore we must learn when to say no in order to save our sanity.
29. Go on an information diet. Most of the world lives on information overload. We must eliminate mindless Internet surfing. Stop reading three different newspapers a day and checking your RSS feeds multiple times a day. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done. The key is to limit yourself only to information that you can immediately take action on.
30. Find a mentor. By modeling after those who have already achieved success, you will save yourself a lot of time and energy.
31. Write your most important tasks and to-dos on a calendar.
32. Set some exciting goals. Without worthy goals, you will never be motivated to get things done.
33. Learn keyboard shortcuts and create keyboard shortcuts with AutoHotKey.
34. Get up early before anyone else. Nothing beats a quiet house.
35. Don’t multitask. Research has shown that multitasking is not productive. For optimum productivity, focus on one thing at a time.
36. Reward yourself for finishing a big task.
37. Shop online whenever possible to avoid going to the store.
38. Batch similar tasks like blog writing, phone calls, email, and errands into a single batch. You will save time by completing similar tasks in one session.
39. Speed up your Internet with a broadband connection. This is the number one Internet time-saver. If you must use dial-up, then you can use accelerators like Propel and SlipStream to double or even triple your speed.
40. Start a polyphasic sleep schedule.
41. Improve your typing speed to save time.
42. Get rid of time wasters. This includes Instant Messenger, video games, Flickr, checking your stats 10 times a day, television, and extraneous Internet surfing.
43. Protect yourself from unnecessary phone time with caller ID.
44. Work from home and avoid the daily commute.
45. Many employers now offer direct deposit. If yours does, then be sure and take advantage of it and save yourself from a number of trips to the bank.
46. Prioritize your tasks ahead of time. By listing your tasks in order of importance, you can make sure that you finish all of your most important tasks during the day.
47. When your reading a book, just read the parts that you need and skip the rest.
48. Cook your meals in bulk so that you will have plenty of leftovers. Avoid having to cook everyday.
49. Learn to speed read.
50. Use Windows hibernation feature to avoid the slowdown of exiting and restarting Windows.
Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential GTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.