You’re busy, and while reading about powerful time management techniques can be productive, many of the ones out there are simply too complex, complicated or involved to think about.
These 10 time hacks are as simple as they come. Every single thing in this list will take you less than one minute to implement into your life, but the results of each can be incredible. Here are 10 one-minute time hacks that will make you more productive.
Say “no” to three things
Here’s a challenge for you: this week say “no” to three commitments that might zap you of your energy, time, or motivation. One of the easiest ways to get more time, energy, and motivation is to say no to to pointless commitments that weigh you down.
Turn off all of your email alerts
New email alerts don’t cost you much time, but they cost you a ton of attention. Every time a new alert comes in, you look at it (just in case it happens to be important), and then you have to re-orient yourself to what you were trying to focus on before. In my opinion, they’re worth shutting off completely. Also, they don’t convey nearly enough information about the message you received to be overly useful.
While you’re in there tinkering with your email settings, I think it’s also useful to reduce the frequency of how often your mail client checks for new messages (plus, having your phone check for new email less often will save you battery life).
Start keeping a list of everything you’re waiting on
You likely already have a to-do list because if you didn’t, you would have a thousand commitments bouncing around in your head everyday. But it’s just as mentally taxing to keep track of everything you’re waiting for. When you maintain a list of everything you’re waiting for, you can make sure nothing slips through the cracks, and you can worry a lot less about the things you need to stay on top of.
Live by the two-minute rule
One of my favorite elements of David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology is his two-minute rule. The rule is quite simple: the moment you realize you have to do something (like when you receive an email you have to action), if it will take less than two minutes, do it. If it will take more than two minutes, schedule completing it later.
In practice the rule works incredibly well, because it takes the thinking out of prioritizing tasks and picking which one to do. It’s very easy to lose a ton of time scheduling tasks, organizing your emails, and so on. When you just do something, you eliminate all of that cruft. As Allen put it in a recent interview with him, “it will take you longer to stack and track [some tasks] and remind yourself than if you finish it the first time it’s in your face”.
Make a list of three outcomes you want to get out of today
Not to-dos; outcomes. The “rule of 3” is one of my favorite productivity rituals, and its power lies in its simplicity. Define three outcomes you want to make happen today. Not things you have to do; actual results you want to get done. Ask yourself, if it’s the end of the day, what three things do you want to have accomplished?
Start working on pomodoro time
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple time management technique that breaks your time down into chunks. For 25 minutes you turn off all possible distractions, and then work on only one thing for that time. After your first “pomodoro,” you take a five-minute break, then wash, rinse, and repeat two more times.
After that, you work for another 25 minutes and take a 15-minute (or longer) break. This technique reduces the ugly, ambiguous tasks on your to-do list down into something you do in a series of easy-to-manage, 25-minute chunks of time.
Find one activity that gives you more energy, and schedule doing it
This one seems almost too obvious to put on the list, but no one takes the time to do it. Are there certain people that provide you a ton of energy and motivation after you talk to them? Schedule a lunch with them. Are there certain things you do that give you a ton of energy, like hitting the gym before work, meditating, or spending time with your kids? Schedule time for that too.
Take more breaks
It might sound counterintuitive, but taking more breaks is one of my favorite ways to become more productive. Breaks prevent you from becoming fatigued and tired, and they help you slow down, step back from your work, reflect, and come up with better ideas. I think even taking a one-minute break can have profound affects on your productivity.
Download RescueTime to track how you spend time on your computer
RescueTime is a free utility (for Mac, PC, or Android) that tracks exactly how you spend time on your computer. You simply sign up for the service, download the app, set it, forget it, and at the end of every week the service will send you an email saying exactly how productive you were. You can then log onto the company’s website to see detailed stats on precisely where your time went, and the service even presents you with a productivity score that shows you how productive you were.
Define the very next steps you need to take to do something you’re procrastinating on
One of the largest reasons people procrastinate with getting things done is that their tasks and to-dos are too ambiguous. Take one thing you’re procrastinating on, and define the very next thing you have to do to get it done. This will make the task less ambiguous, and it will also give you a kick in the butt to get it done.