When we talk about productivity, so many of the hacks can feel a little idealistic. There’s only so much planning and earbud wearing you can do before you still feel like it’s hard to tune out the outside world and tune into your work. And yet, productivity is essential if we want to get anything done.
Here are 10 unique productivity hacks you might not be using (yet).
#1. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
Arianna Huffington told a shocking story of her revelation for the importance of sleep in her TED talk: How to Succeed? Get More Sleep. In it, she shares a story about how she fainted from exhaustion at her desk, breaking her cheekbone and requiring five stitches in her eye. It was that lightbulb moment that drove her to realize that her lack of sleep was really yielding a lack of productivity.
It doesn’t have to reach that point for you to realize the importance of sleep too. By getting more and better shut-eye, we’ll position our brains to be more alert on the job and make smarter decisions.
#2. Automate What You Can
Many of the tasks we take on in our daily lives can actually be done by robots. As scary as that sounds, it’s true. Still, many people continue to work harder than they need to, focusing on the tasks that waste time rather than save it, simply because they aren’t sure how to turn these jobs over to a machine.
IFTTT stands for “If This Then That” and it’s a free tool that lets you determine if one thing happens, what action should follow. There are thousands of formulas you can set up. For example, you can have the lights turn on as soon as it gets dark. Or, you can receive an email every time a hashtag is used on Twitter so you don’t have to go researching it later.
The more you can automate, the more time you’ll have to do things that yield better productivity.
#3. Give More to Technology
As Apple’s famous expression goes, “there’s an app for that.”
Technology can oftentimes be a distraction, but when used correctly it can also be a tremendous productivity booster. There are many apps designed to take tedious tasks off our plates and give them over to a robot to control. For example, apps to manage your schedule can save you hours of manual labor trying to match up shifts and time off requests. Or, apps to track your mileage can save you hours of time adding up your business trips or medical visits.
Figure out what tedious tasks are taking up your workday and then give them over to an app to handle.
#4. Schedule in Exercise
You know the importance of exercise when it comes to maintaining your weight, but did you know that exercise is equally important to maintaining your mental health too?
During a workout (vigorous or not), your body releases serotonin, which is a compound in your blood that acts as a neurotransmitter. This compound affects your mood, sleep, memory, and overall mental function. Stay regular with your workouts and you’ll stay regular with your ability to produce on the job.
#5. Say No-More to Multitasking
Women, especially, take pride in their ability to multi-task. Unfortunately, as productive as it might seem, focusing on multiple projects at once is more of a distraction and a bigger recipe for failure over the long run.
Commit to focusing on one thing at a time. Then, give yourself at least 20 minutes to complete that one task. Don’t try to toggle between windows, or check your email while you’re working. Focus.
#6. Schedule Longer Meetings
Yes, you read that right. Schedule longer meetings. Brian Smith of S. Brian Smith Group has a rule that he will only ever schedule a two hour meeting with someone. The reasoning behind that makes sense. If someone doesn’t have something pressing enough to take up two hours, it’s probably not worth his time. Doing this has stopped him from filling his day putting out small fires that could’ve been addressed by his employees or clients without his help.
#7. Turn Your Phone to Airplane Mode
Nothing is more distracting than a break in context. If you’re working on a project that requires your full attention and your husband sends you a text message about dinner that night, you’re jolted out of your creative zone and over to another thought pattern. This distraction takes more than a quick minute to recover from. You have to refocus your mind and get yourself back to where you were before, which can take as long as 15 minutes.
Put your phone on airplane mode while you’re working on something that requires your concentration. The messages will be there waiting for you when you’re done. This way, you can finish up faster and get more done in less time, which is the definition of productivity.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs believe in meditation, including Natalie MacNeil of She Takes on the World, Oprah Winfrey, and even UFC host, Joe Rogan. The reason meditation is so popular amongst successful entrepreneurs? It clears your mind so that when you sit down in front of your desk, you’re ready to work with purpose. When you feel more at ease, you’re more likely to feel more creative with a clear mind to work from.
#9. Handwrite Your To-Do List
There’s something unique about putting pen to paper. The movement of your hand connects to movement in your brain. When you write something down, you tend to commit to it and do it.
Instead of using a drag and drop to do list, invest in a $10 planner and handwrite your to do list every morning. This will send a signal to your brain that you need to accomplish each of those tasks within a certain time frame. Then, get to work. When you finish a task, cross it off with pen and embrace the rewarding feeling you’ll undoubtedly experience as you do.
#10. Nixing the Afternoon Slump
End your day on a productive note. Send the afternoon slump on a hiatus by putting a hard stop on your day when you know you’re most likely to enter into the zone of foggy brained, lack of energy. Having a hard stop in place will force you to maximize your working hours while limiting the amount of time you spend doing less at your desk.
What’s Your Best Productivity Secret?
It seems like productivity isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. For some people, music drives the creative spirit. For others, silence is golden. What is your best productivity secret? Have you ever tried any of these tips? How about something even more unique? Share with us in the comments below.