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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 January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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