There are a lot of different productivity tricks, and when you try them, mileage will vary based on the kind of worker you are. But how do you find out which technique is right for you without wasting your time trying them all? Lifehack has you covered. Below are six productivity tricks that might work for your purposes.
1. Strict Deadlines
A lot of people thrive off the pressure of a deadline, doing their best work the fastest they can because they absolutely have to get it done. Lighting a fire under someone is one of the best ways to get them to produce sparks. Of course, not every project has a strict deadline, so the productivity trick is to make you believe there is one. Reward yourself for reaching your imaginary due dates or punish yourself for missing them. This is a good productivity trick for those with the fortitude to accept rewards only if you reach your goals or the ability to accept the punishments if you don’t.
2. Write Everything Down
This is one of the simplest productivity tricks. If you forget things easily, record everything you need to remember so that you’ll never be unprepared. Good to-do lists include Wunderlist, 2Do, and plain old pen and paper. Evernote is another invaluable tool, an external brain that can house all your thoughts, ideas, and knowledge.
3. The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique, one of the most popular productivity tricks, is pretty simple. You choose a task, set your timer for 25 minutes, work until the timer rings, then take a short break. After four Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break. It’s a great life hack for the people who get burnt out from working too hard. The regular pauses give you enough time to recharge your batteries, which lets you get back to work in full force.
4. Louis C.K.’s 70% Rule
Louis C.K., the man responsible for writing, directing, editing, and starring in the FX show Louie, imparted some great advice in an interview for GQ. Here’s his productivity trick.
“These situations where I can’t make a choice because I’m too busy trying to envision the perfect one—that false perfectionism traps you in this painful ambivalence: If I do this, then that other thing I could have done becomes attractive. But if I go and choose the other one, the same thing happens again. It’s part of our consumer culture. People do this trying to get a DVD player or a service provider, but it also bleeds into big decisions. So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 percent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.
“And, when you get to 80 percent, you work. You apply your knowledge, and that gets you to 85 percent! And the thing itself, especially if it’s a human being, will always reveal itself—100 percent of the time!—to be more than you thought. And that will get you to 90 percent. After that, you’re stuck at 90, but who the f*** do you think you are, a god? You got to 90 percent? It’s incredible!”
You don’t even have to do 70%. You can pick your own percentage, whatever the amount is that makes you comfortable enough with your choice. This productivity trick is great for people who struggle to reach a decision, taking that burden out of their hands.
5. Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret
Comedians are just full of productivity advice. Fun fact about this technique, though: Jerry Seinfeld denied coming up with the productivity trick named after him. He actually called it the dumbest non-idea that wasn’t his! But, regardless of its real inventor, Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret has helped a lot of people over the years.
The trick specifically helps you do something on a daily basis. It involves getting a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hanging it on a prominent wall. The next step is to get a big red magic marker. Each day that you do the task you’re trying to do that day, you put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. If you keep at it the chain will keep growing longer every day. You’ll take pride in that chain, especially after a few weeks of red X’s, and the only job left is to not break the chain. This is a great strategy for people trying to build a pattern. It’s especially effective when it comes to fighting addiction and living a healthy life, which are both challenges that you need to take on one day at a time.
6. Work On Your Task for 10 Minutes
If you have trouble getting started on something, this productivity trick is perfect. Just commit to doing your task for 10 minutes. Anyone can do something for 10 minutes. But what happens is that when you spend those 10 minutes doing the task, you’ll get in the groove of things and feel committed to do a lot more.
Which one works best for you?
Featured photo credit: Fernando Mafra via flickr.com