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.
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.
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.
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.
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