In today’s workplace, we have more technology and tools available to us than ever before – so you would think we can be even more productive and efficient. A nice thought, but with so many tools and toys to choose from – are we really using our time wisely? Or, is it getting sucked into a black hole of email inboxes, social media posts and app downloads?
pro·duc·tiv·i·ty is defined as the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. In other words, getting your sh*t done quickly and doing it well.
Our team recently spoke at the Terre Haute Leadership Conference about top productivity apps and hacks. After finding many helpful resources and tips to improve our own productivity, we thought we’d share our findings with you too. Enjoy – then get back to work!!
How Can We Be More Productive?
There are only 675,450 hours in the average human life. Every hour that’s wasted is an hour you won’t get back. If you’re working hard every day but not getting measurable results, then you’re wasting your life—one hour at a time. Now that’s a visual.
General Productivity #LifeHacks
After reading more than a dozen articles on the top productivity hacks, we’ve pulled together some of the most popular, and easy to implement for immediate impact.
Create a “To Do List”
Do it at the start of each day, with the top 3 to 5 things you need to accomplish. Focus on those first. Then categorize other tasks that may be able to be grouped together and done at one time.
Wear your own work “uniforms”
We’re not just saying this because we work with a great uniform rental company, but because having your own uniform will decrease decision fatigue. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg are two leaders known for wearing the same thing all the time. When asked why, they said it’s one less decision they need to make in a day. There was another great article on Slate.com about Jeffrey Blumer’s experience on how the work uniform should become the norm. He even reached out to Kim Hastreiter, editor of Paper, who has worn her own uniform for 20+ years. Read that article here.
Avoid those electronic distractions and focus
- Install site blockers so you can block certain websites while you’re heads-down working. Force the focus!. Site blockers allow you to list certain sites you want to avoid (Facebook, anyone?) and set a timer so you won’t or can’t go do them. Five simple ones are highlighted in this blog from focus.me
- Ditch the smartphone and set it aside or turn notifications off. Why? Well, the average person looks at it 221 times per day*
- Avoid the email black hole – This is where we can lose a ton of time if we’re not careful. If it feels like you’re constantly answering and responding to emails and not getting any real work done, this is for you.
- Check email at specific times – set blocks on your calendar, like 11am and 3pm.
- Turn off new email notifications so you check them at those set times only.
- Organize your inbox using folders for reading later, respond today, or messages that need follow up later that day.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
One other life hack we found, and have put to the test over the last 3 days (quite successfully), is the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. You can learn more from our friends at lifehacker.com here.
Two Minute Rule
We found this helpful in our time management immediately! The 2-minute rule (no, it’s not like the 5-second rule if you drop food on the floor) is this: if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now! Get those little things out of the way so they won’t distract your thoughts, or get forgotten.
Setting Boundaries Will Increase Your Productivity
One of the biggest takeaways from the “research” we did is that the more you put parameters, or a firm start/stop in your work, the more you focus. Thus, the more you can get done. If you want to research something new for your job, or a new purchase for your family, set a timer and give yourself 15 or 30 minutes. Do as much as you can in that time. Then be done and go back to it later if you need to.
Distractions don’t really choose us. We let them in, and we can keep them at bay with a few of these life hacks. So, try a few out, see what works best for you, and find more time in your day to get the things done that matter the most.
If you have other productivity tips or hacks you’ve found successful, please share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
A few sources