Can you hack productivity? Maybe not, but you can certainly follow some best practices to keep you efficient and effective:
Lists, lists, lists. Documenting your goals in the short term (and long) is incredibly helpful in being able to visualize exactly what needs to be done and what your priorities are. Three lists is a good rule of thumb: daily, weekly, long-term. Keep a “To Do This Week” list, and each day when you start working, before even opening email, make a list of the things that need to be done that day. Beyond that, your longer-term to-do list (for big picture plans) keeps big picture goals from falling through the cracks. The list of list options is endless, and can be endlessly helpful.
Delegate. Are you getting in your own way? It can be difficult to pass off tasks to the people around you, but ultimately, if you are fortunate enough to have a support staff, this is exactly what they are there for. Using the visual help of the lists to identify what items your skills are necessary for, it is easier to identify places where you can effectively enlist some help and lighten your load.
Edit. Now that you are in the habit of making lists and delegating to the appropriate people, you are in a position to regularly reevaluate your to-dos and make sure you are really focusing on the right stuff. Editing your life is crucial to maintain a balance and increase your productivity. Are you in the habit of doing something time- and energy-consuming, but ultimately unnecessary? Delete it from the routine.
Schedule it. While “it” may not be a meeting, appointment or other obligation that typically goes into your calendar, putting those to-do items (even the unconventional ones) on your agenda carves out a time to dedicate to the task, and helps to ensure that it gets done. Without identifying and committing to a time to tackle a task, you can wind up getting sidetracked and, well, let’s admit it—procrastinating.
Work it out. Like to run? Ride bike? Yoga? Soccer league? Whatever your healthy habits and passion may be, make time for it. Prioritize it. You will be amazed by the positive impact it will have on your focus, clarity and drive—in all areas of your life.
Eat well. We all love pizza. But if that’s what you decide to have for breakfast as you’re running out the door every morning, you will pay for it in ways that are not always apparent. Guzzling that soda mid-afternoon to get you through the slump will leave you crashing later. Eat well, and plan out your meals ahead of time to prevent impulse eating because you feel like you’re starving. It may not seem to have a direct correlation to your productivity, but how you fuel your mind and body plays a role.
Take a deep breath. Relax. The pressure everyone is under these days impacts all of us—clients, colleagues, and our own families. Sometimes the best way to refocus and be more productive is to just take a step back and breathe. When you’re calm and focused, you are likely to accomplish more.
What productivity hacks did we miss? Let us know in the comments.