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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 September 22, 2020

How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do

How to Wake Up Early: 6 Things Early Risers Do

You have probably heard the success stories about people who wake up early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oprah Winfrey, and Olympic medalist Caroline Burckle all talk about the positive impact of waking up early on their lives.

Even though many assign a portion of their success to waking up early, many find it difficult to make the switch. While most people know what needs to happen to change their life, they find then difficult to implement consistently. To understand how to wake up early, you need to tap into the wisdom of those already doing it.

Here are the 6 things early risers do:

1. Stop Procrastinating

The first thing you need to do when you want to learn how to wake up early is to go to sleep earlier. Stop procrastinating. You will find it much easier to wake up when you are getting the proper amount of sleep. Set a bedtime that allows you to get 8-hours of sleep and hold yourself accountable.

The problem most of you will have at first is how tired you will feel. If you are someone who goes to sleep after midnight, waking up by 6 a.m. will not be easy. The reason you need to push through that initial difficulty is that you are going to be very tired at the end of the day. Realistically, you probably would fall asleep at your desk or doze off on your lunch break. Either way, waking up early no matter how you feel will motivate you to go sleep at the proper time that night.

Think of it as someone who procrastinated until the night before their project was due. Having done this myself, you do what you need to do to complete the project, whether that means working all night or cutting some corners because you don’t have time to triple-check your work.

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After you turn in your project, you feel both exhaustion and jubilation. After you make it through the workday and crash at home, you promise yourself you’ll never wait until the last minute again. This same feeling will happen when you force yourself to wake up early no matter what time you went to sleep. You are going to promise yourself you will go to bed at the right time.

Most people don’t go to bed when they should because they know they will ultimately make it up in the morning.

2. Pace Yourself

If you want to start waking up a couple of hours earlier each day, you may not be able to make that change all at once. It stands to reason the more drastic the shift, the more difficult it will be.

So, instead of trying to adjust your sleep pattern by several hours, start in 15-minute or 30-minute intervals.[1] If you wake up 30 minutes earlier each week, you will be a morning person by the end of the month. This may feel like you are drawing out your goal but in reality, you are accomplishing it much quicker than most. Most people who are naturally night owls find it difficult to completely change their sleep habits overnight.

Think of it as someone who is trying to quit drinking coffee. Outside of the fact you may enjoy the taste of coffee, your body is used to operating with a certain amount of caffeine and sugar. Some will be able to quit overnight and their body will adjust accordingly. And if you are one of those people, then do what works for you.

However, if you were to take an incremental approach, then you may first start drinking your coffee black. Then, you could switch to decaf before slowly lowering the amount of coffee you drink each day. As you can see, this approach will help minimize the feeling of withdrawal while getting the results you want.

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3. Watch Your Lighting

Light reduces your body’s production of the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone. In practical terms, your body naturally wants to be awake when the sun is up and go to sleep when the sun is down. This is called your circadian rhythm.

In the technology-driven world we currently live in, you likely look at a screen or two before bed. Studies show television and phone screens trick your body into thinking the sun is up. As a result, your body starts producing less melatonin. To help you fall asleep, you should stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed.

This can also mean that if you want to wake up before the sun, looking at your screen when you wake up can help you to stay awake.

Peter Balyta, the President of Education Technology for Texas Instruments says he wakes up at 5:20 a.m. and scans his emails before starting his day. This is also true for M.I.T. president L. Rafael Rief. He wakes up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and checks his phone for anything urgent.[2]

4. Make It Worth Your Time

Have you ever woken up early but went back to sleep because you didn’t have a reason to stay up? To put it another way, have you ever fallen asleep because you didn’t have anything better to do?

If you want to be excited about going to sleep and waking up early, then you need to give yourself a reason to be excited. You can accomplish this by listing the three things you want to accomplish the next morning. Notice I said “want” and not “need” to accomplish. You don’t want to be dragging yourself into the next morning kicking and screaming.

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Your list should not only include what you want to accomplish but also why you want to accomplish it. If you want to take it a step further, list the consequences of not waking up early.

People who have figured out how to wake up early are shown to be more successful, persistent, and proactive in their life. They tend to be happier and handle stress better. It is also shown that people who wake up early procrastinate less.[3] If you find any of these benefits something you want to add in your life, then waking up early is shown to help.

5. Avoid Binging

There is a difference between sleeping and getting a good night’s sleep. Sure, you can drink alcohol and fall asleep, but you will not be getting quality rest. You will wake up feeling as though you slept for only a couple hours.

It is best to stop drinking at least 4 hours before bedtime. Binge drinking is known to impact your sleep-inducing melatonin hormone levels for up to a week. The same holds true with eating a large meal right before bed. It is not that your body can’t process food and sleep at the same time. The main concern has more to do with the possibility of indigestion or heartburn than anything else.

If you find yourself dealing with either of these symptoms, then you may want to stop eating at least two hours before bed.

6. Get the Blood Flowing

Those who have mastered the technique of how to wake up early tend to start each morning with movement.

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Your first movement is to get out of bed. To help you get out of bed, have your alarm far enough away that you need to get up and turn it off. Before you allow yourself to contemplate going back to sleep, take a moment, and do 10 push-ups or 10 jumping jacks. Think of each exercise as you taking one step further from being able to go back to sleep.

Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning. She starts each day by exercising. Her exercises include running, weight lifting, swimming, and cycling.

You decide for yourself how you want to get your blood flowing. Whether you want to go on a walk, workout at the gym, or do something at home, make sure you are scheduling time to exercise.

Final Thoughts

The key to understanding how to wake up early is to recognize that it is heavily driven by the actions you take the night before. You will wake up early if you go to bed at a good time and get the proper amount of sleep.

By taking the time to prepare yourself both mentally and physically each night, you can ensure you are positioned for success the next morning. Once you have taken the proper actions the night before, make sure you use that momentum to start your day, on time.

The goal is to make the actions you want to take as easy as possible. The key to changing your life is to discover a way to have the wind at your back, going in the direction you want.

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Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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