Are you on the hunt for some of the best productivity hacks?
If you struggle with focusing on the task at hand, you may have heard people mention some of their favorite productivity hacks – but wondered if they’re right for you. When you’re tackling important tasks, the key is to understand which productivity techniques work well for you.
If you’re panicked about a list of deadlines that keeps piling up or a seemingly never-ending list of commitments on your calendar, it’s time for a coffee break!
Silence your email notifications, grab a cup of Joe, and take some time to read this guide – these productivity hacks are going to change the way you think about all the things you have to do. And they’ll likely change your life as a result. So, what are the best productivity hacks? Let’s dive in!
How Do You Force Productivity? Change Your Habits!
The number one best tip to follow when it comes to being more productive is to change your habits – sounds simple, right?
This can actually be the most challenging aspect of forcing productivity, particularly when you’ve molded your workplace and mind around the things you already do. You really have to reprogram the way you think. And if you’re working in a group or office setting, you may even have to reprogram the way everyone else thinks, too.
A lot of people assume that being productive has to do with being busy – but the two are not one and the same, nor are they mutually exclusive. If you completed your to-do list, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have enough on your plate. It just means that you were effective. Starting to become more productive starts with changing that mindset.
How Can I Hack My Brain to Be More Productive – 26 Helpful Productivity Hacks
1. Try the Pomodoro Technique and Work in Bursts
Without a doubt, the Pomodoro technique is one of the most helpful productivity hacks that exist.
You can only concentrate on one task for so long before you go bonkers – there are some studies that suggest that people lose focus after 10 to 20 minutes and others that are more generous, indicating that you might be able to last 30-40 minutes (or longer) without losing you.
Ultimately, this will depend on a variety of factors, including your interest level in what you’re working on, your age, and your personality.
Either way, most people agree that an hour is too long to maintain your focus on one thing – so it makes more sense to utilize the Pomodoro Technique. This method involves working in 25-minute sessions followed by a five-minute break. Of course, you can always update those times to suit your personality.
Give it a try! Set a timer that limits you to a set amount of time on a given task. Take a break when the timer goes off, then return to the task. Chances are, you’ll find that you get just as much done in that 25-minute burst as you did in the full hour that you worked before.
2. Shut Off After Work
Stop working 24/7 – even if you say you aren’t. Switching off or unplugging after work is one of the most challenging things for remote workers to conquer, but it’s important – especially as it relates to your productivity.
3. Rely on a Friend
Do you struggle with holding yourself accountable? If so, you might want to lean on a friend for help. This works even better if that friend is someone who happens to work in the same office as you – and heads up, you can keep them on track with their productivity goals, too, making it a two-way street that is sure to benefit you both.
4. Quit Multitasking
Multitasking is one of those bad habits that makes you seem like you are being more productive, when really, you’re losing more time. It has a range of negative impacts on the brain and it’s one of those long-standing habits that you’ve got to ditch ASAP.
There may be a few limited minds out there that do better when they multitask – we hate to break it to you,but you’re probably not one of them. Most studies show that when you are multitasking, more often than not, you aren’t actually doing two or more things at once but instead hundreds of individual actions in rapid succession.
Well, that’s better, right?
Multitasking can make it hard for your brain to handle everything that’s going on. Unfortunately, this is one habit that we tend to resort to when we feel crunched for time. It’s a good idea to break this habit before stress sets in and you find yourself resorting to old fall-backs.
5. Set a Single Goal Every Day
When your plate feels so overloaded with to-do’s that something’s bound to slide off the edge, it’s sometimes more effective to unload. Take all those things off your plate – just focus on one thing per day. This will retrain your mind to focus on single tasks, one at a time, so that you don’t find yourself resorting to multitasking.
Once you focus on one thing per day, you’ll find that there just isn’t any room left for multitasking – and that by paring down your workload, you’ll be able to get much more done (even though that definitely sounds like a contradiction).
6. Take Regular Breaks
Whether you’re following the aforementioned Pomodoro Technique or not, taking regular breaks as you work is important. It can give your mind the time it needs to recover from periods of intense focus.
However, you need to be calculating about how you choose to spend your time. You might automatically open up your favorite social media page – like Twitter or Facebook – but unfortunately, turning to that digital barrage of information won’t help your brain turn off.
Instead, you’ll want to avoid doing anything totally taxing on your brain. Don’t do anything that divides your attention or requires intense concentration. Instead, do something to relax your body and mind – you can stretch a bit, do some yoga, walk downstairs to use the restroom. Whatever the case may be, make sure you truly unplug to get the full benefit of your break.
7. Block Distracting Websites
Did you know that the average worker can’t go more than five or six minutes without checking their messaging apps, social media pages, or email? Sure, your work might be digital in nature, requiring you to constantly check for notifications – but ultimately, this obsession with checking, rechecking, and checking again is doing us more harm than good.
Instead of relying on your willpower alone to avoid this ever-present temptation, use website or app blocker tools. This will allow you to create a list of apps and websites that will automatically be blocked during work sessions. You can even prevent notifications from coming in and they won’t arrive to you until your predetermined time has ended.
8. Write Down Your Three Most Important Tasks
Earlier in this article, we recommended writing down just one goal for each day. That might be too restrictive for some people. However, to avoid ambiguity and to make sure you stay as productive as possible, there is an alternative – write down your three most important tasks instead.
Be as specific as you can with these tasks. Use more than three or four words when you list your goals so that way, you don’t find yourself scratching your head, wondering what to do next, when it comes time to tackle that item on your to-do list.
9. Batch Tasks
One of the very best productivity hacks you can try is to batch your tasks. Rather than sitting down and completing one task, then a totally unrelated task, and then a task that was somewhat related to the first task, you can batch all similar tasks of the same type and get them all done at once. This key tip can make a huge difference when it comes to getting more done – and boosting your overall productivity.
For example, you might decide that you are going to answer all of the email messages in your inbox first thing in the morning. Great. Don’t check your email again until the next morning – you’ll then move on to other steps in your routine, completing batched tasks like sending invoices, making phone calls, or other things you might need to get done.
10. Lean on Project Management Tools
We are fortunate to work in the digital age in which there are countless project and time management tools you can lean on for help. Serene is one good example but it’s far from the only choice – you might also use to-do apps, day planners, or group communication tools including choices like Todoist, Trello, Pagico, Any.Do, Asana, Slack, and Monday.
11. Use Templates
Decision-making can be a huge drain on our productivity when it comes to getting something done.
One of the best productivity hacks you can follow is to use shortcuts – we’re not just talking keyboard shortcuts or tags, either. Instead, you should rely on premade templates for things like canned emails, scripts for phone calls you need to make, and other time-saving techniques. By using a template for tasks that don’t require a lot of creativity, you’ll be able to focus more on other goals and tasks throughout the day.
12. Create a Dedicated Workspace
Once the pandemic hit, a lot of us who used to work in an office setting assumed that once we were working from home, we’d get so much more work done. No more commute! No more distracting coworkers and office lunches!
However, the opposite was true for so many people – and much of that had to do with the setting. If you don’t get your brain in “work mode,” you’re going to have a hard time getting going. Create a dedicated working area that will help you shift into work mode – and that will help you leave it there once you are done. Whether it’s a desk or perhaps a dedicated coworking space on the road, make sure you have a place to go to signal to your brain that it is work time.
13. Listen to Productive Music
Another key tip in boosting your time management and productivity is to listen to productive music. Now, this tip will only work if you are the kind of person who works best with a bit of background noise. If you only work well in complete silence, then shut off the smartphone or iPod and get to work.
Otherwise, listening to productive music (there are plenty of playlists and tracks that include songs without lyrics, which can make it easier for you to work without getting distracted) can help drown out background patter and make it easier for you to get everything done.
14. Try the “Two Minute” Rule
Set a goal to get as much done as you can in two minutes. This is a great tip to help improve your focus and ward off procrastination.
If you find yourself procrastinating on a task, just give yourself a limited amount of time to get it done. It doesn’t have to be two minutes, but two minutes is a good benchmark. After the time has passed, revisit your priorities and see if you have the energy and motivation to continue on with the task. More often than not, the two minutes of focused work will be enough to revitalize you and give you the confidence you need to complete the rest of the project.
15. Choose Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools will help your team communicate more efficiently and work together on joint projects. You can share tasks via these tools, allowing people to share the workload and divide tasks based on time available and individual strengths.
The Google Suite of products offers many solutions for teams, as do things like Spark, InVision, Notion, Nozbe, and Slack.
16. Start by Eating the Frog – Or Not!
You’ll hear all kinds of success stories about top professionals who really know how to get things done – and their key tip is to eat the frog. “Eat the frog,” fortunately, has nothing to do with actually chowing down on amphibians, and has everything to do with tackling your least desirable task first thing in the morning.
This tip can not only help you stay on top of your priorities and get stuff done but it can also make for a more stress-free day. After all, you won’t have to worry about that dreaded task all day – you can focus on other priorities instead.
17. Use a Scheduling App
Scheduling apps can be beneficial not only for reminding you to get certain tasks completed but also for scheduling meetings. Organizing group work sessions or meetings can be a true nightmare for digital teams – even worse if you have people in different time zones!
There are all kinds of scheduling apps that can make your life easier. From Google Calendar to SkedPal to Doodle, make sure you’re taking advantage of all the resources that are out there.
18. Make Meetings Productive
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a meeting constantly punctuated by soul-sucking comments like, “I would just like to add…” “I’d like to piggyback off…”
Probably all of you, right? Meetings are frustrating because everyone wants to have a say -and that say is not always valuable or productive. Some teams schedule regular meetings (daily, weekly, etc) just for the sake of it – there’s no real reason to have such a meeting.
Instead, make sure meetings are productive. You may want to encourage the creation of an agenda or checklist of items that need to be discussed. That way, not a single second of anyone’s time is wasted.
19. Created Shared Goals in Teams
If you’re working independently and you think you’ve fully hacked your productivity, then congratulations! But what about us folks who rely on teams to get our most important work done?
It’s also important to create shared goals with the people that you work with. Working together toward shared goals can help you “hack” your productivity as it will increase your feelings of intrinsic motivation. Using a project management platform can help you get more done as you share goals with each other, too.
20. Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
Another simple productivity hack? Plan out your day ahead of time. You have no idea what kind of crazy events life is going to throw your way, but if you can have at least a quick list of everything that you need to accomplish, you’re sure to get something done, at least.
21. Avoid Tech Overload
Technology is helpful when it comes to hacking your productivity – we all know that. But when is tech too much tech? Sometimes, you will need to avoid using technology to hack your productivity. Consider ditching some of the software tools and relying on your own brain – it might end up saving you time and energy, and making you more productive in the process.
22. Tame That Email Inbox!
Stop leaving unread, read, or replied-to emails hanging out in your email inbox! Obviously, you need email in order to be a productive worker – but letting emails hang out can be a total drag on productivity.
Consider using other communication methods, like Slack or Spark, so that way you can make your messaging more efficient. Choose a dedicated time of day to write and respond to emails and do something with all those emails you’ve already handled – whether it’s filing them away in a folder or deleting them for good, just get rid of all that visual noise.
23. Schedule Notifications
If you have a hard time remembering things that need to get done at a certain time, consider scheduling notifications. However, know that a notification can easily interrupt your workflow – make sure you are only addressing things at the appropriate time. Block notifications until they come in at the ideal time.
24. Prevent Interruptions
If you’re constantly checking apps, emails, and instant messages, those are major interruptions you’ll have to deal with – and fortunately can deal with, with the help of technology. But what about chatty coworkers, the whining toddler in the other room, or the dog barking across the street? Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app to block those interruptions, too?
If you can, work at times when you know interruptions will be minimized. For sound-based distractions, consider wearing a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
25 . Know When to Say No…
You might have a lot more on your plate than what actually needs to be there. Sometimes, saying “yes” all the time is not the best answer.
It can be hard to say no! However, taking on more than you can handle will ultimately compromise the quality of your work (and your sanity, too). Say no more often so that you can avoid working in the evenings or on weekends. Don’t take on more than you can handle – that way, you can maximize your productivity in other areas without worrying about all the other garbage on your to-do list.
26. …And Know When to Go it Alone
A lot of these productivity tasks have focused on teams – and while collaboration is often mentioned in discussions about productivity, it ignores the fact that sometimes, working together doesn’t always equate to getting more done. There are lots of times in which working alone is the far more productive option.
Understand when you need to lean on others for support – and when it’s best to go it alone. Your to-do list will thank you!
The Best Productivity Hack
The best way to increase your productivity and to see a difference in your long list of commitments?
Make time for yourself. Although you might not include your own health and wellbeing on your pages’ long list of priorities, it’s important that you schedule some time for self care. The best productivity tips almost always include regular tasks like exercise, sleep, and healthy eating – as well as time for things like hobbies.
Unplug after work and don’t always stay connected to your job. Giving yourself some time to focus on number one – you! – is a great way to improve your focus when you do return to your desk. Whether you enjoy a long run on the beach, a good game of golf, or even just some time vegging out in front of Netflix, it’s important that you pay attention to yourself in order to truly hack your productivity!