Everyone loves productivity. Perhaps even more than we love chocolate. Wait, that’s just silly – chocolate rules all. That said, here’s 50 tips you can use to enhance your productivity. Try some out and rock on!
1. Learn to say NO
Deciding what is and isn’t important is one skill. But having the guts to say NO when you know something isn’t important or is disruptive to your flow, is quite another. Learn it.
2. Take public transport
Ditch the fancy car – take the bus or the train. Your mind will be free to get things done during your commute. You can get a head-start on emails, plan your todos or even do actual work if there’s enough space.
3. Listen to educational podcasts while you commute
Or use that time to enhance your mind! Learn a language or other new skill through your headphones – all while everyone else on the train is listening to Justin Bieber or morning radio. Intellectual smug face optional.
4. Try to live central to the things important to you
If you find yourself hanging out in a particular part of town often, try to live somewhere equidistant between there and work. Sounds simple, but it will hugely cut down on your time spent on transport.
5. Work from home
Figure out what tasks can be done at home and convince your boss it can be done. Free from the distraction of coworkers, meetings, long lunches, commutes – you’ll be more productive than ever.
6. Use website-blocking software
Website blockers like StayFocusd can give you a virtual slap on the wrist every time you try to access Facebook or Reddit while working. Over time, they can build a good habit of not checking social media while working.
7. Prioritize effectively
Decide what is the most important thing you need to do that day and do it first.
8. Be goal orientated rather than follow a todo list
Todo lists are useful but they can either become unwieldy or you can forget to update them with new tasks. Think about goals rather than specific todos and aim to complete them.
9. Make a “leave the house” mixtape
Know you need 30 mins in the morning to get ready? Make a 30 min mixtape and aim to leave before the last song plays. It’s a neat psychological trick!
10. Use the Seinfeld X technique
When asked how did he get so good at stand up, Seinfeld revealed his method for making sure he practiced every day. Every day he practiced, he put a red X in the calendar. After a week of Xs it was so satisfying to see, that he didn’t want to break the chain. Practice makes perfect and figuring out a hack that can keep you at it, is half the battle.
Only Handle It Once. If you receive an email and can reply to it quickly, reply right away. Reason being, if you leave it until later, the time spent replying plus the time spent remembering over and over that you need to reply (and delegating it until later) ends up being much more than if you just replied to the email right away.
12. Make time to exercise
Release some endorphins – they are great for the mind! Exercise will help you to focus when you need to. Plus it’s also, you know, good for your body.
13. Create rock solid deadlines
Nothing will spur you into action more than a seemingly insurmountable challenge, and an ever-advancing date in the calendar when it all has to be completed.
14. Learn how to create tasks
“Lose weight” isn’t a task. It’s a goal that has many tasks associated with it. Split goals into clear, concise tasks.
15. Turn your desk/walls into a whiteboard
Having informal space to doodle thoughts is great for capturing ideas and flashes of brilliance – or impromptu collaboration.
16. Eliminate bad habits
You know all those time-wasting things you do? Stop doing them. There that was easy.
Here’s a simple breathing exercise that will help you focus. Breathe in while counting to 3, breathe out while counting to 4. Repeat for a minute or so until relaxed and focused.
18. Batch mundane tasks
By nature we tend to drag out mundane tasks. Batch them together to spend less time on them, leaving more time for tasks we enjoy.
19. Use virtual assistants
Waiting on hold is a waste of time – luckily there are services like Lucyphone who can do the waiting for you.
20. No meeting Wednesdays
At Asana, Dustin Moskovitz employs a “no meeting Wednesday” rule, meaning that the entire company knows wednesdays are for glorious, uninterrupted work.
21. Sleep early
Your mind can’t function properly if you’re tired. Sleep early so you’re not tired during the day when you need your brain performing optimally.
22. Start work early and work fewer hours
The morning hours are great for productivity. At 6am, there’s not many other people up, you’ll be relatively free from distractions and your mind is fresh from resting. You can pack a full day of work into just 3 hours from 6am to 9am. Try it.
23. Learn the Pomodoro Technique
In a nutshell: Decide on a task. Set a timer for 25 mins. Focus and work as hard as possible. When the timer goes off, take a break for 5 minutes. Repeat the process, taking a longer 15-30 minute break every few cycles.
24. Get a second monitor
Not having to switch or rearrange windows can give a serious productivity boost – and monitors these days are pretty cheap.
25. Carry a random report
A bit of social hackery. If you work in an office, carry around random, important-looking bits of paper. People will be less likely to hassle you or drag you into an impromptu meeting if you walk with the hustle of a Very Busy Persom (TM).
26. Get a life outside of work / the web
De-stressing is important, and it’s equally important to de-stress away from the internet. Go and take up a sport or a craft to feed your brain. Variety is important.
27. The Two Minute Rule
If something can be done in 2 minutes, do it right away. If not, leave until an appropriate later timeslot.
28. Learn about sleep cycles
The body sleeps in cycles of 90 minutes. If you’ve ever woken up feeling groggy for much of the day, you might have woken up in the middle of a sleep cycle – it’s best for the body if you wake up at the end of a cycle.
29. Install Inbox Pause
Here’s a handy Gmail plugin that simply pauses all incoming mail (it goes into a special inbox) until you are ready to receive them again.
30. Install Boomerang
Here’s another handy Gmail plugin that lets you schedule emails to be sent. Often we may write an email at night but know that the optimal time to send it is in the morning. You can either send it now at a suboptimal time, or you have to remind yourself to send it in the morning. Or you can just get Boomerang to schedule it for you!
31. Don’t think about time
Don’t sit on the train thinking about how long it’s taking. This will exhaust you. Use the time more wisely – occupy your mind by thinking about your todos, or listening to something useful.
32. Establish an ending time to your work day
Having a strict deadline for when your work day ends will increase productivity as you strive to get more done before you leave.
33. Experiment with a change of location
Feed the mind – the same working environment month after month can erode your productivity. Mix things up, get out of your comfort zone and maybe become a road warrior for a while. If your boss won’t let you work from an idyllic tropical beach location, see if your company will let your team head to a cafe to work for a day.
34. Disable phone notifications
Those flashing popups can be a huge distraction – disable them when you need to focus.
35. Focus on 3 priorities a day
There’s something magic about the No. 3. Try to achieve 3 goals per day. No more, no less.
36. Listen to appropriate music
This will be different for everyone, but there’s music that helps you focus and there’s music that’s distracting as everyone starts singing along to Baby Got Back blasting from the office stereo.
37. Work with a friend who is also working
Nothing says “stop procrastinating now” more than staring in the face of a buddy who is crushing it and focusing 100% on their work.
38. Take walking meetings
Kill 2 birds (or more, kill all the birds!) with one stone – get out of the office, change your environment, and set a psychological deadline for meetings by taking “walking meetings” round the block or round a nearby park.
39. Learn less, do more
Put that theory into practice – your brain wants to learn from experience and will function much better from doing so.
40. Rest if you need to
It’s ok to rest. In fact it’s ok to rest a lot. One habit of highly productive people is that they are not functioning at 100% productivity every day. You’ll just burn out that way. Take days off to recharge.
41. Store files in the cloud
Use Google Drive or Dropbox to save yourself from getting into a faff when sending clients the latest version of files, or switching computers.
42. Airplane mode
An easy way to disable all distracting incoming notifications? Switch your phone to airplane mode.
43. Declutter your work space
Tidy desk, tidy mind. Also more space for you to scribble on (if you’ve converted it into a whiteboard from the previous point).
44. Learn regex
Regex is like voodoo for text manipulation. Ever been asked to do something like “here’s a list of 200 bullet points… can you put curly quotes around all of them?”. Doing that by hand would be a mundane task that you’d drag out all day. Doing it with regex would take about 10 seconds.
45. Don’t multitask
You are not a computer. Focus on one task at a time.
46. Do something mundane at the start of the day
Get your brain into “work mode” by doing something easy and repetitive at the start of the day, like washing the dishes.
47. Leave 10 mins per hour for email
Don’t let email eat into your productivity. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes per hour for checking and replying to emails.
48. Turn your phone face down
An even more ghetto trick to avoid phone notification distractions – just turn it face down (and on silent, obviously).
49. Flip a coin
If indecisiveness is causing bad productivity, flip a coin, decide, and get on with it.
50. Work on something you’re passionate about
Perhaps the most important productivity hack of all. If you’re working on something you’re passionate about, you’ll already be automatically inclined to focus on it and give it your all – the time you spend on something you’re passionate about will be worth 10x the time spent on something you’re not passionate about. Don’t waste your time, we only have a limited amount! Use it on the things you love to do.