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A Quick and Dirty Way to Optimize Your Productivity

A Quick and Dirty Way to Optimize Your Productivity


    When you are faced with 101 things to do in a day, productivity and streamlining processes becomes essential. One way to optimize productivity is to use routines.

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    Doing things in routines allows you to do them quickly with a minimum of thought. You can group several similar tasks, or tasks that need to be done concurrently or sequentially into a routine so that you do them consistently and efficiently. This works very well for things that need to get done daily, and chances are you already have a routine for your personal hygiene, such as: shower, brush teeth, do hair.

    When you take a little time to create a routine for a daily task, you can consider the best placement of items, where to keep supplies/equipment or how to declutter your workspace and keep it primed for that daily task. For less frequent jobs, you can create the best way to quickly convert your workspace for that task.

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    Is there something important in your life that you wish you did more often or more consistently? Make a routine for it, and tie it into something essential or something you naturally do often. For example, if you want to exercise more often, why not group it with your daily routine of going to a coffee shop for that mochaccino you find you need every day! Re-jig your morning routine to include a quick, light bite to eat and a big drink of water, jump into your workout clothes, grab the bag of street clothes you packed the night before, head to the gym, do a fast-and-intense workout (Crossfit is excellent for that), do all your personal hygiene at the gym, get dressed, drink a protein drink, and then head to your favourite coffee shop on the way to work (or to start your day). In this way, you have streamlined your process for exercising and tacked it onto an already established routine.

    Let’s look at something you would like to do weekly. How about calling your grandma? Every time you visit, you vow to call more often, but then seem to forget. You feel it’s important, but somehow it never gets done. Why not create a routine for several weekly things, to group them together and streamline your processes? You might try something like calling your grandma every Saturday morning, right after you tidy the phone desk — you can water the plants and wipe down the bathroom sink while you chat.

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    Everything you consider *important* should be made into a routine. You are far more likely to do something when it’s a routine, and therefore far more likely to do the important things.

    What about something you find takes too much time, like checking Facebook or email? Create a routine for it. You check your Facebook while the coffee brews and when it’s done, so is your FB time. Close the tab, walk away. Email is tougher to tackle, but luckily, Lifehack has a new Lifehack Lesson for that!

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    Do you feel like your life is too routine already, and you don’t want to add more? The routine of life can sometimes get us down, no question. Why not add some fun routines? You could give yourself one or two nights a week do something you enjoy, and you wouldn’t have to pre-plan exactly what it would be; if the weather’s nice, it could be a bike ride in the river valley, and if it’s rainy, you work on a favourite hobby or go out with a friend. Perhaps there’s a weekly meetup you could join, with people with similar interests. Maybe your life is so routine, you’d like to try something really different or challenging — volunteer at a soup kitchen, go rock climbing, or join a volunteer fire department (if possible). I know being on the fire department certainly ruffles up the boredom in my life!

    No matter how you do it, making routines for the important things can really streamline your productivity and make sure you stop wasting time, too.

    (Photo credit: Full Potential Speedometer via Shutterstock)

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    Teresa Griffith

    Teresa is a passionate writer who shares about productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on April 6, 2020

    15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

    15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators

    Let me guess.

    You should be doing something else rather than reading this article. But due to some unknown force of nature, you decided to procrastinate by reading an article about how to hack procrastination. You deserve a pat on the back.

    Fortunately, procrastination is not a disease. It’s just a mindset that can be changed, however, here are some productivity tips you need to start getting work done:

    First, you need to acknowledge that procrastinating is an unhealthy habit. Not only you’re prioritizing unimportant things, basically, nothing gets done. Still unsure if you’re a procrastinator? Check out this article: Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing)

    Second, your commitment to change is very important. You should be physically, emotionally, and mentally determined to change this habit. If not, then you’ll just succumb to the tempting lure of doing other things rather than your tasks or chores.

    Here are sthe best productivity hacks to improve productivity and keep yourself from procrastinating at work:

    1. Give (10+2)*5 a Try

    Let’s start with a classic but very effective hack called (10+2)*5 created by Merlin Mann,[1] author of 43Folders.com. Don’t worry. This is not a complicated Mathematical formula you need to solve.

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    The (10+2)*5 simply means 10 minutes work + 2 minutes break multiplied by 5, completing 1 hour. It is crucial to stick with the time limits and not skipping work and break schedules. The point of this is for you to create a jam-packed routine of work and break schedules. The result? You will eventually skip your break schedules.

    2. Use Red and Blue More Often

    Clean your desk and remove things that might distract you. According to a Science Daily study[2] about which colors improve brain performance, red was found out to increase attention to details while blue sparks creativity. Surrounding your workplace with these colors not only benefits your brain, it’s also pleasing to the eye.

    3. Create a Break Agenda

    List all the things you want to do on your break, be it surfing the web, checking your emails, snack time, taking selfies, Facebook/Twitter—everything.

    Like the (10+2)*5 hack, squeeze these in between work time but the difference is you schedule these activities for ONLY 20 minutes. Eventually, you’ll take your break minutes wisely. You’re finishing tasks while sidetracking to doing the things you enjoy.

    4. Set a Timetable for Your Tasks

    Like any other habits, procrastinating is a tough wall to break. Replace this habit with another habit. When you’re assigned a task, set a timetable for each step. Let’s say you have a big research task. Here’s a sample timetable:

    9:00 – 9:10 am – Set up all your tools, browser tabs, emails, coffee, etc..
    9:10 – 10:00 am – Internet research
    10:00 – 10:45 am – Look through existing files
    10:45 – 11:00 am – Break time!
    11:00 – 12:00 pm – Outline the research report

    Deadlines are the best hack for getting things done. Setting a specific time to finish a task creates time pressure even if the deadline has passed.

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    5. Take It Outside!

    Do yourself a favor and don’t ruin the comfy vibe of your home. If you need to work on a stressful project, do it in a library or coffee shop. You’ll never finish it anyway. Your cozy sofa and toasty bed will just lure you into napping yourself to doom.

    6. Become Productively Lazy

    Instead of finding all sorts of ways to unproductively procrastinate, use your habit to look for shortcuts and new ways to finish your tasks. Staple multiple papers at a time or master the 3-second t-shirt folding technique. A strong drive combined with laziness sometimes bring out the productive and creative side you never knew you have!

    7. Assign a ‘Task Deputy’

    It could be your colleague, your supervisor, or your significant other, anyone who has the unforgiving guts to reprimand you when you procrastinate. You could go the extra mile by paying up unfinished tasks or times you open your Facebook or watch a funny cat video on YouTube. Let’s see how five bucks every time you procrastinate will change you.

    8. Consider a Gadget-Free Desk

    According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, average users check on their phones 150 times per day and having your phone just an elbow away just creates sizzle to this habit.[3]

    Removing mobile devices and gadgets allows you to focus on your work without the constant interruption from notifications, calls, and text messages. It eliminates the very distracting ambiance and the urge to unlock your phone just because.

    9. Prepping the Night

    Before hitting the sack to oblivion, prepare everything you’ll need the next day. This will probably take you 15 minutes tops, saving you more time for coffee in the morning.

    Spin class at am? Pack up your gym clothes, shoes, socks, etc. or better, create a checklist so you don’t miss anything. You can also prep your food into containers and just grab one before leaving.

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    10. Do a 7-Minute Workout in the Morning

    Exercising is proven to increase productivity and stimulate release of endorphin or “Happy Hormones”.

    Take a jog outdoors and get warmed up for the day. Don’t feel like running outside? Hop on a treadmilli. It’s a great investment and there are a lot of ways you can use a treadmill like endurance running and metabolism training. On a budget? Here’s a 7 minute, no-equipment needed workout you can do at home:

    11. Set-up Mini Tasks

    If you’re given a big project, break it down into mini tasks. Create a checklist and start with the easy ones until you finish. Got an article to write? Just start with the title and the first sentence. Or perhaps you have a visual presentation to make?

    Spend 15 minutes on your outline, take five minutes coffee break, then finish the first two slides. Accomplishing something, no matter how tiny, still gives you that sense of fulfillment.

    12. Create an Inspirational Board or Reminder

    I found these mini desk chalkboards from Etsy you can use to write motivating quotes.

    Or you know what? Simply write “Do it now!” and stare at it for 10 seconds every time you feel like dropping by on Reddit.

    13. Redecorate Your Room

    Redecorating my room motivates me to maintain that ‘new’ look for some time until I get use to it and eventually stop. So I redecorate again and again, it became a monthly habit really. Here are some DIY ideas you can do to any room without spending much.

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    14. Ready Your Nibbles

    You know that trip to the pantry? It’s just seconds away but it took you several minutes just to get your fruit snacks in the fridge. Before starting a task, prepare your nibbles on your desk to avoid zoning out and losing yourself on the way to the pantry.

    Bonus productivity hacks you can do at home:

    15. Schedule Your Chores

    Write down your chores in a weekly basis with matching day and time when you should be doing these.

    For the artsy folks, you can create fun chore charts like these or simply stick the list somewhere visibly annoying e.g. mirrors, doors, TV. The trick is listing as many chores as you can for the week and including unfinished chores the following week. Who likes seeing a long list of chores first thing in the morning?

    More Tips to Overcome Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

    Reference

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