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5 Best Productivity Hacks Successful People Use

5 Best Productivity Hacks Successful People Use

We are living in the greatest time period ever in history. There is almost nothing in this world that is not available to us, if we are willing to put in the hours to research and learn. That’s all that’s between us and what we want in life.

In the same token, because of all the technology in this modern age, we are also face to face, daily, with more distractions than our ancestors ever had.

Try these five productivity hacks to leverage technology to the fullest, so we can optimize our life and reach maximum effectiveness

1. Setting Times to Check Your Email

This one is going to be huge for many people. Remember that experiment where Pavlov would ring the bell, and the dog would salivate? What do you do the second your email goes off? Yeah, the vast majority of people, if we’re honest, grab our phones the second our email goes off to check what it is and who it’s from.

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We have been conditioned just as the dogs were in Pavlov’s experiment. Listen, email is great, it allows us to connect and converse with people in a convenient way, on our terms, no matter where we are in the world.

Think about how many times this steals your focus throughout the day and how it scatters your attention. The Solution? Set times to check your email and stick to them. For people that can pull it off, just checking your email once in the day, maybe after your work, would be the ultimate goal. For others that cannot do this at first (or at all), shoot for checking it only twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Try this for a week. You will feel the difference.

2. Social Media

How much time do you spend on social media every day? Be honest.

Social media is another technological advancement that is absolutely fantastic for so many reasons. You can do things like connecting with family and friends out of town, share life experiences as they happen, communicate with friends you’ve been out of touch with and more.

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My question to you though is how many of your productive hours is it stealing from you every day? Time is the one thing in this life that we can never get back. If you were to look back on your life 30-40 years from now, do you think you’d say “Man, I wish I spent more time on Facebook.” No, I didn’t think so.

Set aside 30-45 minutes at night to go through your favorite social media accounts and do what you’d like, but I challenge you to stop the mindless scrolling during the day just because you’re bored. We all do it.

Every once in awhile I like to get into this mode of taking a break from ALL social media platforms. It’s amazing how clear I feel during these “breaks.”

3. The Pomodoro Technique

This is a simple, yet extremely powerful technique of breaking your work down into short intervals of 25 minutes and setting a timer. Then, when your 25 minute Pomodoro is done, you take a 5-minute break. Many people (myself included), find that when they are working off of a timer, it increases your output and productivity because you are trying to “beat the clock.”

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I was skeptical when I first came across this, but it works very well. There are many free Pomodoro timers that you can access online as well as apps on your smartphone. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

4. Your “One Thing.”

This is a popular new trend that was spiked by Gary Keller in his book “The One Thing”. This book stresses that although there any many tasks that each one of us is responsible for during the day, there is ultimately one thing that is the most important. Keller encourages readers that by focusing on their “one thing” and giving that all of their attention until it’s done, their productivity will soar.

This is another simple concept that is easy to discard how powerful it is until you try it.

Before going to sleep at night, plan out your day tomorrow like your normally would except identify clearly your one thing. What is the one thing that you can do or work on that would bring you the most results and bring you closer to where you want to be?

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5. Meditation or Quiet Time

Because of all the stresses of the modern world, we tend to neglect ourselves and our own physical and mental well-being. When our ancestors were growing up, they didn’t have phones ringing, email alerts going off, Facebook messages, Twitter alerts, Snapchats or any of the other distractions that we have today. As much as we all love our phones and social accounts, we must give ourselves a break as well.

Take at least 5-10 minutes out of your day, every day, to meditate or have a little quiet time and allow your mind some time to relax and shut off. Take this time and spend it in the way that best aligns with you.

There are some great apps that can help with meditation such as Headspace or calm.com. You can even use these for guided meditations. Maybe you prefer to sit outside quietly with a cup of coffee in silence or go for a walk in nature? It doesn’t matter which you choose. The important thing is that you take the time to “re-charge.” You will be at least twice as productive because of it.

Featured photo credit: static1.squarespace.com via static1.squarespace.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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