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10 Mini Productivity Hacks To Ease Your Life

10 Mini Productivity Hacks To Ease Your Life

We probably live in the busiest and most distracting time in history, and all the tasks we have to accomplish each day can be really difficult to complete when it’s hard to focus.

Everyone wants to be more productive, but many people don’t know where to start. Or worse, they think the key to productivity involves doing things that look like a major lifestyle shift.

The good news, however, is that there are many small things you can do to make your life easier and more productive. Here are ten mini productivity hacks that you can start using today.

1. Post Your Three Most Important Tasks

One of the key things to realize about productivity is that not every task we have on our plates is equally important. In fact, if we start listing out our tasks and assigning a number next to each one to denote their level of importance, we’ll likely discover several tasks we’re responsible for that we honestly shouldn’t spend valuable time on.

If you want to boost your productivity and get more done, a simple trick to start out with is making a list of the day’s tasks and determine the top three tasks that you simply must complete before the day is up.

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Write the top three down on a sticky note and have it in front of you all day so that you’re frequently reminded of what you’re working toward and what has to be completed by the end of the day.

2. Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is a simple productivity strategy in which you pick one task you’re going to focus on without distraction and without stopping for 25 minutes straight. The key to the technique is to use a timer. Once the timer rings after 25 minutes, you take a 5-minute break before launching into another 25-minute session of a task.

The Pomodoro Technique works well because your mind isn’t as opposed to focusing on something for 25 minutes as it is for much longer periods of time. Your mind thinks, “Okay. I can do this,” knowing that a break is coming up in 25 minutes. Many people who try this find that they achieve more during their 25-minute chunks than they do at any other un-tracked time of the day.

3. Block Distractions

Distractions, such as unimportant emails or social media posts, can be the number one killer of productivity. When you have tasks that you need to focus on, you need a quick and easy way to eliminate distractions so that your productivity doesn’t suffer.

Before you start a task, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode and use a service like Freedom on your computer to completely block out the Internet for a set period of time.

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4. Track Your Time

Ever considered how you use the precious amount of time you have available each day? If you’re not tracking how you typically use your time each day, you should because you’ll probably discover a few things that are simply stealing your time.

Track how much time you spend on your smartphone by using an app like aTimeLogger to track where your time is spent.

Do the same thing with your computer by using an app that runs in the background like RescueTime. You may find yourself disappointed in the way you’ve spent your time, which should act as motivation to try harder next time.

5. Show Up Early

If you have a job that you have to be at anyway, why not show up a few minutes early and use the time to chip away at some of your important tasks. Showing up early puts you where you need to be when the time for work comes, but it’s also a convenient way to open up productivity time, because even a small amount of time can help you to be more productive if you use it wisely and remain focused.

6. Practice the Two Minute Rule

This small simple hack has been suggested by David Allen, the author of the highly popular book about productivity Getting Things Done.

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Here’s what it comes down to: when you know you can perform a task in two minutes or less, you should do it immediately. This makes sense. Why save something that will only take you a couple minutes for later? Get it out of the way so that you’ll have more time later for the more time-consuming tasks on your list.

7. Automate What You Can

Many people have discovered the web automation service IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate some of the tasks they go through each day. IFTTT uses “recipes” to set triggers and the results that follow those triggers.

For example, if you miss a call, you can use a recipe to have a reminder created that will alert you later on to return the call. You could have your daily task list emailed to you at a certain time each morning to get you mentally oriented for the day’s tasks or have the Tweets you favorite during your downtime saved to your Evernote for viewing later.

The key to making automation work is to try some different recipes and see what works for you.

8. Write it Down

One of the most simple hacks you can begin practicing today is to write things down. In fact, it’s one of the key factors that Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, attributes to his personal and professional success.

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The act of writing things down, such a list of the tasks we have to accomplish or the processes we have to go through, helps your brain to more easily keep those things in mind as you’re working toward your goals.

9. Learn to Say No

If not every task on your plate is equally important and you discover that some tasks just aren’t worth the time you have available, don’t just do everything anyway.

One of the most powerful things you can ever do is to learn the fine art of saying no. If a task doesn’t help you to be productive and reach your personal or professional goals, why put it on your list?

10. Take Time to Recharge

Don’t underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep. When you work yourself late into the night trying to get tasks completed, you only rob yourself of the ability to give the next day’s tasks your peak performance because you’re not properly rested.

Remember that not every task you do is equally important, and none of your tasks are worth losing valuable recharging time over. Start using some of these mini productivity hacks today and watch your productivity increase while your stress decreases.

Featured photo credit: Laptop On Work Desk With Paper/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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