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Ultimate Productivity Hacks You Need to Try

Ultimate Productivity Hacks You Need to Try

We all work all day, and during all this chaos we have almost no free time for ourselves, and our families, but we always try to make some room. We all want to be extra-productive, and we try to multitask as much as we can, but sometimes, the more we try to do more things at once, we find ourselves failing almost everything, as we are unable to dedicate our full intention to a singular task. Organizational skills are extra important, and time management has never been more important—especially if you want to stay successful.

Due to all this, we all try to find more hacks and discover newer tips that will allow us to stay on top of your game. In an effort to organize all menial tasks, we use special techniques and tools simply not to waste time. The best advice that anyone can give you is to work smarter, not harder, and remember, time management isn’t about stuffing as many tasks as you can into any given day, but it is about creating a workflow that is simple, fast, and, most important, stress-free. So, we have prepared some of the most important productivity hacks that you can use in your workplace, not only to perform better, but also to feel better.

1. Clean your work desk

Cluttered desk

    Clutter on the desk will lead to the clutter in the mind, something which will lead you to become unfocused and stressed. Staying focussed is especially important if you handle a lot of papers, so it is essential to have a paper tray for incoming things that require your attention, and a special paper tray for outgoing things that are done, and can be sent away, or filed. Put frequently used items like markers, pens and pencils nearby, and feel free to keep less frequently used items in the drawer or somewhere where it won’t attract your attention.

    2. Organize your computer

    The same way you need to keep your desk clean and organized, you need to keep your computer sorted and running smoothly. You can do this by organizing all the files in their dedicated folders. The best tip is to create as many subfolders as you need in order to create a folder tree where you can find whatever you need. Use anti-virus software that will keep your computer operating without bugs. Keep all the latest updates installed, and the safest bet is to have all the updates automatically download and install, without you being aware.

    3. Check your emails in the morning

    If you your work description includes reading a lot of emails and responding to them, then you need to dedicate a whole part of your work time in order to do that, and the best thing is to simply finish it early in the morning. Make a cup of coffee, sit down, and then open up all the emails, respond to all those that you have to, and forward those that require further assistance. When you finish that, visit your inbox at frequent intervals, but do not have notifications turned on, as it can easily distract you from your other work.

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    4. Create an efficient inbox

    It’s common to have more than one email address. But there are many ways of trying to combine all those into a single inbox, where you can simply check all your emails, without having to log out and login into different accounts. Do this only if you can use third party software to connect to your corporate email. And ask whether that is allowed, as some companies do not allow this, and require you to only use your business email.

    5. Do not even open social sites

    Woman using her smartphone

      If you think that you will just be able to open Facebook for a quick glance and then return back to work, you are sadly mistaken, as opening one cute cat video will lead to a couple of more, and before you know it, half an hour has passed and you haven’t finished anything. Use simple add-ons that can block particular sites for a limited period of time, until you finish everything else.

      6. Create a schedule

      If you have a job that is highly erratic, or creative, you will need to create some order that will help you achieve as much as you can. For example, if you work from 8am, and you need to finish something by 4pm, remember to divide that task into simple tasks, and then create a smaller deadline so you finish the first part by 11am, then the second by 2pm and the third should be done around 4pm. This division of work should give you a clearer overview of your progress, and should keep your motivated.

      7. Get out of the rut

      If you feel that your job is too repetitive, you will need something that will give your brain a break. If you cannot turn your job into something more interesting, then at least try and organize your free time so you feel good about yourself. After a long day of work, we just want to go home and sleep, but it is exactly the time when you should call a friend and go and grab a cup of coffee.

      8. Get up early

      Try and get up at six, so you can shower, eat and prepare for work. If you have children, you will have enough time to prepare breakfast for them as well, or even greet your loved one with a cup of fresh coffee. But no matter how early you want to get up, remember to have at least 7-8 hours of sleep, as without sleep, everything else is pointless.

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      9. Learn to say no

      Say no

        It is normal that you want to be liked, and that you want to be thought of as a person who always helps out, but you need to know when to say no, and focus solely on your task. Some people will want to take advantage of you, and it is essential that you learn how to prioritize and help others only if you have free time, and you get due credit.

        10. Forget about multitasking

        Even though we all like the power of being able to do a couple of things simultaneously, you need to remember that our brains and our bodies are not created to properly multitask. We can be much better if we can dedicate our full attention to a single process, and then go on to another, than to try and do both of them at the same time and fail instantly.

        11. Write down all your ideas

        If you want, you can use your smartphone and create a memo every time you have a great idea, or if you’d like a physical reminder, carry a notepad with you at all times, where you can even use colored sticky notes to coordinate your reminders. Even if you are sure that you will remember something, it is better to write it down than to forget all about it.

        12. Don’t be afraid of technology

        There are so many programs, add-ons, and extensions which you can use to simplify smaller steps and things while you work. Google Drive and Dropbox are great way of eliminating USB memory drives, as your files will be available whenever you go with an internet connections. Trello is great at keeping track of projects and deadlines, while Hootsuite can organize and schedule your social media posts.

        13. Exercise properly

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        maria sharapova exercise

          If you are in good physical condition, then you will not only be healthy and satisfied to work extra diligently, but it will give you more energy to accomplish all your tasks. You can find simple exercises to use when at home, and it is best that you do them before work, early in the morning—it will give you that burst of energy needed to survive your morning.

          14. Keep your home tidy

          No one wants to return home after a day’s work and find a mess everywhere you turn, which is why it is essential that you constantly organize your home, and clean up after yourself. Create more storage space so that you can set aside all the things you don’t currently need, which will give your home a more elegant look, and remove all the clutter from your life.

          15. Coffee can help

          If you need a small energy boost, you can find it in a small cup of coffee. Coffee can not only be extremely healthy for your body, but people who drink it regularly will be less affected by stressful situations. But remember not to drink any coffee after 4pm, as that might keep you from sleeping well during the night. Avoid coffee bought from machines, and prepare your own brew. Not only will this taste better, but it will have less sugar and artificial sweeteners added.

          16. Use your commute wisely

          You need at least 30 minutes every day to get to work, and that time will quickly accumulate, so do something useful with it. Listen to audio books on your mobile device, or podcasts—it doesn’t matter if they are humorous or work related. You can even try and walk to work. This way you can turn a daily chore into light exercise, where you can clear your thought before work.

          17. Hire help

          maid cleaning the house

            If you work a lot, you do not have time to worry about things that will only occupy your mind. The best thing you could do is to hire some kind of help: someone that will do your shopping for you, or someone that will clean your home. This is an excellent way to outsource things that require a lot of time that you simply do not have. Once a week you can even have a professional cook come over and prepare meals in advance, so that you eat only hand-made high-quality food prepared specially for you.

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            18. Eat healthy

            Like we’ve said, having a meal prepared for you is a much better solution than fast-food, which is full of salts, sugars and fats—stuff which your body does not need in large quantities. If you avoid junk food, and replace it with balanced meals, you will feel much better, not to mention how much healthier you’ll be.

            19. Don’t forget about water

            No matter how tasty fizzy drinks are, they simply cannot replace water as a drink that is essential for our bodies to function properly. In a perfect world, people would drink two liters of water daily, in order to keep you hydrated, and your metabolism running perfectly—but any liquid will do, like tea or coffee. Just remember to avoid fizzy drinks or drink them in limited amounts, as they are full of sugars which will only lead to obesity.

            20. Have fun

            happy dog in a car

              Let’s face it, no one can truly be productive and efficient at a workplace if they are constantly sad, or bored. You need to find your own outlet, something that will keep you happy, and find time for that—if you like reading, read at least half an hour every day; go to the movies with your best friend; take out your beloved on a romantic dinner. All those things will remind your why life is worth living for, and it will give you more than enough energy and focus to try your best, and be a successful working professional.

              If you were looking for a magical solution that will solve all your productivity problems, tough luck. There is no such thing. You will need to change your whole life around, and develop your organizational skills in order to truly be successful and develop every aspect of your life. Have fun, spend time with your family and friends, create a goal and stick to your plan—and in no time, success will surely follow.

              Featured photo credit: morgue file via mrg.bz

              More by this author

              Ivan Dimitrijevic

              Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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              Last Updated on February 18, 2019

              How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

              How to Motivate Employees and Boost Team Productivity

              These days, in a world with cognitive, AI, and extraordinary advances, we have failed at the most basic stimulus: motivation. Why do I say so? Just take a look at these statistics:

              58 percent of managers said they didn’t receive any management training as per a CareerBuilder.com survey. Only 12% of employees leave their jobs because of more money. Research indicates that around 80% of employees leave their jobs due to “lack of appreciation”. Due to fear of failing, more than half of American workers don’t take their paid vacations. 53% of Americans are unhappy at work (not engaged). And 1 in 3 are working in a field they don’t like.[1]

              Archaic people management and HR structures are the root cause.

              “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

              So how to motivate employees and boost team productivity?

              Here are 3 key things that you can do to motivate your employees and boost team productivity:

              1. Run Your Team/Group/Company like a Lean Startup

              The Lean Startup phenomena by Eric Ries has been socialized across millions all over the globe. In a nutshell, it is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.[2]

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              Encourage Your Employees

              When you empower your employees (or family members) to do what they deem to be best for a particular roadblock, idea, or improvement, you create magic. You create genuine trust. You enable innovation. The result is happy, inspired employees who feel they have a say in the grand cosmic stage at work.

              Note that increasing the competency level of employees and coaching and mentoring them along the way is key. You yourself, need to do the same. Nourish your brain – and get a mentor that will keep you at the edge of your game.

              Offer Rewards

              Motivation is also intrinsic. The startups I have worked at offered instant rewards — not just fat checks or equity increments, but Oscar-style nominations.

              The non-monetary rewards were actually more coveted, and grandiose: lunch with the CEO, tickets to an Obama fund-raiser, horse-back riding with a world-class equestrian.

              Compare this to a dodgy, corporate, white-cubicle dinosaur that had a “yearly performance review” where both parties dread the conversation. In a world of instant WhatsApp messages, having a conversation about performance, likes and dislikes cannot just happen annually in 60 minutes. Employees need to be rooted in the belief that their manager genuinely cares about them.

              Give Autonomy

              Another key attribute is autonomy. Most employees start brushing their resumes and cruising LinkedIn when their hands are tied in their current positions: approval forms, long meetings, escalations, and more meetings. In the world of agile and scrum masters, deliberating for the sake of deliberating is poison. You will choke the very employees that giddily accepted the job initially to “change the world”.

              Within a reasonable realm of assessment and deep-dives, trust your employees to do the heavy lifting. Give them access to the knowledge, people and resources that help them directly make the choices that will shape the future of your team, and your company.

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              Eliminate yourself as the bottleneck – and interject yourself as a benevolent, servant leader that is the symbol of high-performing organizations.

              2. Apply the 90/90/1 Rule

              I recently saw a video by Deepak Sharma (a leadership adviser) about productivity and this principle stuck with me. Here’s what it’s about:

              Devote the First 90 Minutes of Your Day to Important Project

              For the next 90 days, devote the first 90 minutes of your day to your most important project—nothing else. Do this for yourself and your employees.

              We usually get sucked into the most wasteful, operational activities in the morning which robs our focus, and steers us into an unwanted rabbit hole. So mute your notifications, avoid the temptation to check your exploding inbox, and scroll your Instagram feed later. Instead, focus on that ONE thing that will provide real value to you, your team, or your business/company/home.

              Apply this rule to yourself – and your team. Your team will thank you. Note: If you’re feeling really stretched for time, you can always hack the rule by testing out a “45/45/1” version.

              A To Do Scheduling System

              Another version of this is to use the Kanban concept, developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota. Kanban is a scheduling system employing boards and cards.

              The most basic version is a canvas with “To-do”, “Doing”, and “Done” boards (or columns). Each activity or task is a “card” that moves from one column to the other. I use Trello (a Kanban-inspired app) that is a key system for my personal and professional life. It allows me to understand my workload, their priority, and due dates.

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              I use importance and effort metrics (scores) for each task to understand what is truly necessary in my life to work on. It negates the FIFO (first-in, first out) paradox that has plagued millions of people. Instead, it allows me to take stock of what is on my plate, and then bite on what truly will move the needle for me, my team, my life, and my company.

              With a limited appetite (at least for some), would you eat the veggies, fries, mashed potatoes and leave the sizzling steak? No, you wouldn’t (unless you are a vegan and ended up in the wrong restaurant).

              Approach your work with a weighted vengeance – and encourage your team to do the same.

              3. Align Passion and Skills to Purpose

              The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, and gives you a sense of meaning, joy and passion.

              “The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are—that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” — Richard Leider

              An ace team-member once told me that while she enjoys working for the company we both used to work at, she really hated anything to do with technology. She was more of a “people” person, and did not want to sit behind a desk sifting through lines of code.

              What struck me was that she was in that role for more than a decade and had just spoken up. The good thing is she spoke up. She expressed her desire and interests. And it allowed her to get into a role of her liking within 30 days.

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              Ask If They like What They’re Doing

              If you, or a team member is frustrated, demotivated, or not performing at their best – one of the questions you should ask is whether they like what they are doing. Then genuinely try to help them get to the role they should be in (whether in the same team/company or not).

              There’s a reason why 53% of Americans (and perhaps more or same across the globe) are unhappy at work. A butcher cannot be an ace salad maker. Pursue your passion – and help pave the way for your team. Unlock your potential and theirs. You will command and lead a supercharged team.

              “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

              The Bottom Line

              Sometimes, passion has to be ignited. It is dormant, clouded by busy-ness, buried by wrong career choices, and plagued by non-supportive eco-systems. Some will climb out of it, but we as society — and in the case of business teams — incumbent upon the manager/CEO/leader to foster, grow, and nurture the employee.

              Teach her the ropes. Show her the path. Advise him as you would yourself. Let them lead, and make mistakes. Do not fear them, rather make them the leader you would want to become.

              For your not-so-great team members, understand that it is not personal, it is just not a good fit. Help them move on to the pastures they would be fit to graze on. Hence, hire slow (and fire fast).

              Your team is a reflection of you. Boosting their confidence and helping them achieve the impossible is motivation. Focus on that, and you will have a productive team that you and your company will be proud of.

              More Resources About Team Management

              Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

              Reference

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