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3 Productivity Hacks to Supercharge Your Workday

3 Productivity Hacks to Supercharge Your Workday

Find yourself falling short of your true productivity potential each workday? Do you start the day with a big coffee and a long checklist of things to do, only to find that most of these still don’t get done at the end of the day despite the fact that you stayed at your desk and didn’t move? You’re not alone and it isn’t your fault.

From my point of view, it’s all about blocking out the overabundance of distractions that get in the way. We have more distractions today than ever before.

Think about the world as it existed 20 years ago. The only ways to procrastinate while online were Solitaire and Minesweeper. Now, we’re faced with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, news websites, push notifications, tons of phone games, Google Hangouts, Slack, text messages, RSS readers with a constant flow of new content, and so much more.

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How can we block this all out without feeling like we’re missing out on the rest of the world? Thankfully, it isn’t as hard as it might seem. It’s all about committing to a few great habits that’ll bring your workday to the next level. The three tactics I’m about to share will help to block out the noise in a truly meaningful way. And I promise you it won’t feel like you’re living in the Stone Age.

Here are 3 productivity hacks that can truly help you get more done in your workday.

1. 15 minutes of immediate work right after you get to work — no distractions

This is something I’ve been doing for the last few years and I can’t say enough about what a difference it makes.

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When you get to work, you probably check emails, the news, your Slack channels, or all of the notifications on your phone. Don’t do this! Instead, commit to spending 15 minutes working on any task for the day. Bonus points if you choose your most difficult task — the one you’ve been putting off.

This will start your day on a productive note and has an amazing impact on your mindset for the rest of the day. And chances are you’ll end up working on that task for longer than 15 minutes.

2. The Pomodoro Technique

This one is tried and true and I’m sure you’ve read about it before, but I can’t emphasize it enough.

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If you don’t do the Pomodoro Technique or any other similar tactic, you’re selling your workday short. It’s brilliantly simple in that once that timer starts, you’re committing yourself to 25 minutes of productivity and nothing else. Then, you get your 5-minute break.

Those 25 minutes of pure focus can go such a long way, especially when you do a few consecutive rounds of these. There are a ton of timers online and here’s one that I typically use.

3. Use the OneTab browser extension

Just the sheer presence of tabs in your browser can act as a distraction. Seeing those icons does nothing but make your mind wander and it draws you back to those news articles, your RSS reader, and your social media accounts.

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There’s a time and place for all of that stuff and OneTab can save those tabs so that they’re easily accessible when that time comes. They have no business capturing your attention while you’re working.

Sure, these tips have been mentioned in other forms online, but all three of them tie themselves back to a common theme — when we’re focused on one task, we’re far more productive than we are while multitasking.

This combination of these distraction-free tactics will work wonders for your workday. I dare you to try these things and tell me you weren’t more productive than usual!

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More by this author

Jesse Boskoff

Co-Founder and COO at Status Labs

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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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