First off, let me just say this…
We’re all totally different – with unique personalities, industries and ways of doing things.
What works for me, might not work for you. And what works for you today, might not actually work for you in three months time. It’s about being flexible, and…
So don’t beat yourself up if something worked for you a year ago and now you’re going crazy trying to understand why it’s suddenly not working anymore.
Change… Things change. It’s ALL GOOD.
Let’s talk productivity hacks!
I’m highlighting a few things that are working for me, that have worked for me, and a few things that were a total waste of time.
See if any of these can help you with where you’re at right now.
1. Using online timers to work faster
These are awesome!
I used one last year when we had three major websites to launch and I didn’t want to work overtime… it motivated me to work my butt off and hustle big time so that I could get home on time. Because for me, home life is a massive priority – not working overtime because other people can’t manage their time.
2. Taking a break from Skype chats
I’ve found that when I start my day chatting to friends online, it derails my train of thought quite a bit, and I’m not as productive for the rest of the day. Now, I hardly ever use Skype, but if I need to log on, I’ll only do this after lunch.
3. Being conscious of clutter
This means having a clean work area (no crap lying around), having a minimalist desk space (no piles of books or papers), having a simple desktop with folders (not a gazillion Word docs all over the screen), and having an organised email inbox with filters.
Sounds a little OCD? I know, but…
I’ve learned this time and time again. And fun fact? I read that clutter apparently overwhelms our brains so that we’re less likely to get things done. So there we go. That makes a ton of sense, hey? (And… now you know the reason for the streamlined clothes image).
4. Using the first hour of the day to get inspired
Instead of rushing to my desk at 06:30 to get “more hours in the day” and to be “more productive” (which never worked by the way!), I start work at around 8am.
I use the first hour of the day to plan, maybe watch a quick motivational video (Gary Vaynerchuk usually does the trick!), or listen to a podcast. This is sooooo much better than hitting the ground running, and I feel more inspired and productive.
5. Putting my phone on airplane mode… a lot
I get so distracted with my phone – messages, social media, calendar reminders… it gets too much. So when I’m recording or writing or doing something that needs 100% focus, I switch to airplane mode and it works wonders!
6. Doing creative work FIRST
Honestly, finally figuring out that I’m most productive between 9am and 12pm has been such a game changer! I manage to get my most high-concentration work done during these hours.
7. Only having 3 tasks for the day
This has changed my working life, BIG TIME.
It’s actually quite a popular topic right now and I’m seeing so many creative people and entrepreneurs adopting this way of working. Basically, you choose your top three priority tasks for the day and that’s all you do. Anything else, is just a “bonus” item. No more loooong To Do lists. Just three little goals. It’s SO much easier! And 90% of the time, I check off all three items in a day.
No carry overs, hooray!
8. Only working in 90-minute blocks
Did you know that our mental energy levels need recharging every hour and a half?
This makes so much sense! And it’s so easy to do; work for 90 minutes on ONE task, have a 10 minute recharge/refuel break; hit the next task. Repeat.
9. Quitting the over-planning game
When I started working from home again, I couldn’t get enough of Excel spreadsheets and planning my weeks and days to the tee, breaks included. The problem was, this left little room for flexibility, so when something took longer than what I’d blocked off, I totally freaked out and froze. I literally couldn’t be productive because I was stressing about how to make up this time.
Now I just plan my three big tasks, my peak hour window, and make a note of things I need to slot in (like lunch, a personal errand, and a workout), and I’m a LOT more flexible with planning.
You know what’s really handy? Online task and time management tools. I LOVE Asana and Trello – and the best part is they’re completely free. So check them out if you need more streamlined working in your life, pronto!
10. Not trying to be a superhero on Mondays anymore
If you’re ambitious and love to smash your goals on Monday like a girl boss, like I used to, this is going to change your work life, I promise. I’ve only started doing this recently and it’s made a HUGE difference to what I get done during the week.
Instead of coping and pasting the way I work Monday to Thursday (because, who really works 100% on Fridays, let’s be honest), I use my peak energy days to do the hard stuff (Tuesdays and Wednesdays); things like writing articles, recording and editing podcasts, writing copy for e mailers, etc.
Thursdays are for collaborating, brainstorming, mapping out future projects and launches, researching, upskilling, etc. It’s also apparently a really good day for meetings. And then, Fridays are creative and admin days. So, I usually tie up any loose ends, tidy up my email, desktop and work space, plan for the week ahead, and create images in Canva or Gimp.
So there we go; these are just a few things that have worked – or are currently working and helping me get more productive during the day.