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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 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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