We all have bad focus days. These are the times when we just cannot seem to pay attention to anything without finding ourselves constantly interrupting ourselves with something else. It isn’t a surprise, given how many distractions are constantly fighting for our attention. Social media, games, phone calls, texts, children, coworkers, even breaking news stories… these can all crush productivity and leaving us scrambling to make up for lost work in the process.
Proper management of one’s time is crucial for maintaining your life. Making a couple of changes to your overall daily activities can make a big difference in your productivity. Here are a couple of productivity ‘hacks’ to get you started:
# 1. Website Blocker
It would be great if you could keep yourself on task through sheer force of will. But the average person will find themselves distracted continually throughout the day, thanks to the tempting internet and all that it has to offer. Having a website blocker that will limit what times you are able to browse will be very helpful for almost anyone.
Both Leechblock (Firefox) and StayFocused (Chrome) let you specify either what websites shouldn’t be allowed, or what ones should while blocking all others. You can set it up to automatically begin working at certain times during the day. You can also manually start it up whenever necessary, or just block sites after you have spent a certain amount of time on them in a day.
StayFocused has a ‘Nuclear Option’, which will block all of your selected sites for any amount of time you request, starting from the point it is activated. So if you need to work for a couple of hours without risking a distraction from Farmville, that is a handy tool. If you want to track the amount of time you spend on websites to better decide which ones need to be blocked, check out Rescue Time.
# 2. No Meeting Days
I originally saw this one on another blog, and thought it was such a good idea that I floated it around my office and we decided to implement it ourselves. Meetings are good, on occasion. But they can suck up a ton of time, and that will get anyone behind in their work. That means more stress, and less time on both personal and professional projects that need your attention.
Having a day a week where absolutely no meetings will be required is a great idea. It is also good to allow a day for people to do their own work, if possible. Companies like Google use this format, and with great success. It will also make for happier, less stressed employees when they don’t have a massive back log. I know some freelancers who do this, as well. They work for larger websites, and constant meetings every week can really cut into the time they have to make deadlines.
# 3. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!
I wouldn’t normally put anything in allcaps, but this is an exception. Phones are one of the most distracting devices known to man. Think about the last time you were able to just ignore a text when it comes in, or not answer a call. What about all of the little extras, like notifications from apps telling you that there is an email waiting, or a new comment on a Facebook photo?
The modern human is so attached to their phone that it might as well be directly glued to their hand for constant access. So, how do you get past the temptation of checking that little screen every five minutes? Shut it off. Already, I can sense plenty of people disputing this method. I have kids that might call with an emergency!
There are clients who have to have complete communication at all times! I just don’t want to! OK, fine, then do this… put your phone somewhere that you will have to walk to get it. It can still be in the same room, but on the other side of it. You will still be able to answer calls, but you won’t be tempted to look at texts or other distractions if you have to stop what you are doing, get up, get the phone, check it, put it back and then go sit back down. You will be amazed at how effective this little hack is.
# 4. Prioritizing Your Tasks
For some reason, people don’t seem to do this as thoroughly as they should. But taking a little time to prioritize your tasks and so know what has to be done versus what you want to be done makes a huge difference in how you manage your day.
Also, having a written list of what needs to be completed is a good way of keeping yourself accountable and on track. Start by listing all of the things you have to do, want to do and always do. Next, sort out which of these are a priority and list them from most important to least. Or, if you prefer, list them from small tasks to big ones. It depends on what keeps you working more efficiently. Once you have this list, make a small time table.
What time do you want each task completed by? Set a schedule and stick to it, and you will be less tempted to dilly-dally or put things off. It is easy to justify why you don’t absolutely have to get started on something right away. Don’t fall into the trap of procrastination.
# 5. Delegating Your Tasks
We all take on more than we can chew sometimes. But you don’t have to go it alone, sometimes delegation is the best way to get it all done. Have to deal with some important emails one morning? Ask someone else to pick up the slack on call backs while you handle them. Worried about getting out of a meeting in time to get the grocery shopping done and make dinner? Ask someone else to stop by the store for you, and cut out some of the stress. Whether it is in your professional life or your personal one, delegating tasks is important if you want to keep yourself from going into overload.
Do you have some tips for small life hacks that will improve productivity? Let us know in the comments!
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