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10 one-minute time hacks that will make you more productive

10 one-minute time hacks that will make you more productive

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.

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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.

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Two Minutes

    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”.

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    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.

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    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.

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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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