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15 Productivity Hacks That Speed Up Your Efficiency

15 Productivity Hacks That Speed Up Your Efficiency

Need to get more efficient at work? Do you ever have enough time to get it all done?

If you are struggling to find the time to fit it all in, here are 15 productivity hacks that will help speed up your efficiency:

Email management

Let’s start with the chief productivity killer in most offices — emails.

1. Stop checking email first thing

If you want to drown in inefficiency, check your email first thing in the morning.

If you want to become more productive and efficient, eliminate this habit from your day.

Checking your email first thing in the morning puts you at the mercy of others. Take back the control and start your day with the tasks you have planned to do, not the ones someone else thinks you should do.

2. Turn off notifications

When you have your work planned out, you don’t want to be disturbed by an email notification in the bottom right of your screen.

Switch off all notifications. When you receive an email notification or any other type of notification, it disturbs your focus.

If you turn them off, you can have calm, undisturbed focus for as long as your brain will allow.

3. Batch process email

With the notifications turned off, go to your email a couple of times during the day when you have decided it’s time.

Let your emails build up so that you can process them.

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Processing allows you to think clearly about which ones are top priority and which can be left until later. The way they arrive into your inbox is not the order of merit.

4. Unsubscribe to newsletters

Unsubscribe to as many newsletters as possible. Let them clog up some other email inbox.

If you really need to stay subscribed, subscribe under a different email address. This way, you reduce the number of emails coming into your work email address.

Software and apps organization

Now let’s get to the digital organization.

4. Use Sanebox for organized emails

Continuing on the subject of email, try out Sanebox to reduce the amount of emails that get into your inbox in the first place.

Sanebox uses algorithms to determine the importance of each email, and it moves unimportant messages out of the Inbox into a separate folder, and summarizes them for you.

The added bonus is that it works on any platform and has all the same functionality in the phone app too.

5. Use Activewords for faster output

Use a text replacement software such as Activewords to reduce time spent writing repetitive sentences.

Activewords can be used to launch programs, websites, Evernote notes and more. Saving minutes daily can add up to days saved at the end of the year.

6. Try CloudOn to store documents

CloudOn allows you to use Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint to create documents on the go using your iPhone, iPad or Android device.

Users can sync with Dropbox, Google Drive and SkyDrive accounts. You can also email files directly from mobile devices

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7. Use Evernote to organize notes

Evernote has changed my life.

I have a bad memory, but I no longer have to waste time trying to remember where I have stored something because it’s all in Evernote, from my kids artwork to my families identification numbers, from my shopping list to my next book project.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

Productivity in the office

At work, there’re also a couple of hacks you should try to speed up productivity.

8. Delegate

Only do what only you can do. Your philosophy should be to do as little as possible.

Focus on your core strengths and leave the rest of the work to others.

If you are unfortunate to be the person who receives all the delegated work and you don’t have anyone to help you, make sure you are clear about priorities, clarify priorities and goals with your superiors so you can make better decisions when people send work your way.

Here’s a guide that will help you learn how to delegate effectively:

How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

9. Make meetings productive

Make meetings more productive or don’t have them.

Meetings waste an enormous amount of money each year for organizations. Too many people are in attendance that don’t have to be there, and most of them are replying to emails and focusing on something other than the meeting.

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Think of more creative ways to have meetings, but start by avoiding the meetings where you are not really required.

10. Say no

We must learn to say no to others to be able to say yes to ourselves.

Helping others is great but not when it causes us stress trying to complete our own tasks.

Learn to be more assertive and not take on too much work if possible.

Leo Babauta has some good advice on how to say no:

The Gentle Art of Saying No

11. Two minute rule

Another tip from David Allen is that if something takes less than two minutes, do it now.

By adopting this rule, you will clear a lot of things from your To Do list very quickly. It also gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement which only fuels your productivity.

Brain and body performance

The condition of your health has a lot to do with your productivity, so don’t ever underestimate it.

12. Work with your body

Figure out your natural body rhythms and work with them.

Some of us are more productive at night, others in the morning.

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Don’t fight your natural cycles and try and maximize these times to do your most important tasks

13. Hydrate

When the body is dehydrated we lose energy; when the brain is dehydrated we lose focus.

Ensure you drink water right throughout the day in order to get the most from both your body and mind.

14. Fuel the body

Along with drinking plenty of water, there are many foods that help to keep us energized and focused throughout the day.

Omega oils, known as “brain foods,” help us focus and concentrate.

Proteins and carbohydrates maintain our energy, and a little caffeine can give us a perk when we need it.

Stay aware of your body’s needs and feed it accordingly

15. Exercise

Richard Branson reckons he gets an extra 8 hours of productive time each day from working out in the morning.

Exercise gives us energy, reduces stress and increases focus.

Most productive and successful people have a regular habit of working out. So if you are to only follow one of these hacks, make it this one.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Ciara Conlon

Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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