Productivity Hacks And Methods That Will Change How You Work

Looking to boost your productivity at work? There are plenty of hacks and methods that can help you do just that. You’ll be able to reduce the time it takes to finish a task, or streamline a complex process. There are even tools, apps and courses that can help you do things faster, cheaper, and better. With our ultimate productivity guide, you’ll become more productive at work with just a few simple tricks, and feel happier too!

hacks

Start each morning with a mantra

Your morning mantra can simply be two words, such as ‘calm or strength’ or ‘peace and play’. This helps create immediate sanity and prepare you for the day ahead.

Breathe regularly

When you’re reading emails or being focused, don’t hold your breath. Breathe normally to allow oxygen to flow to your brain.

Try meditating

15 minutes of mindful meditation can help you make more rational decisions, as well as work better in teams, be more creative, and stay mentally healthy too.

Expose yourself to sunlight

Sunlight reduces melatonin production, increasing your alertness. It’ll also improve your mood and overall performance.

Look at bright colours

Expose yourself to bright colours first thing in the morning to lift your spirits and energy. This can mean looking at colourful flowers on your way to work, or having a bright painting in the office.

Don’t check your email first

Start your day by doing the tasks you planned to do, instead of what someone else told you to do via email. Once you’ve completed your tasks, then check your emails.

Turn off notifications

If your phone is set to receive notifications every time you get an email or retweet, it’s best to turn this option off. This way, you won’t get interrupted during work.

Batch process your emails

Allow your emails to build up and then process them twice a day. This can help you prioritise jobs, and will stop you wasting time checking them intermittently.

Read each email only once

To save even more time, only read each email once. Then choose whether you want to reply to it, forward it, archive it, or delete it.

Set up an email autoresponder

Having an email autoresponder will make you worry less about not replying to your emails immediately, and thus reduce your urge to respond straight away.

Write down things to remember once they pop into your head

When you think of something you need to remember later, write it down in a notebook or on a digital to-do list like Wunderlist. The point is to move clutter from your head onto a list you can check up on later.

Write down just 5 things at a time on your daily to-do list

By focusing on only 5 things at a time, you’ll be more able to get them done. It’ll also help you figure out what’s really important, and make you feel less overwhelmed.

Doodle

Doodling can help you focus and increase your creativity, as well as help you better retain information.

Do your least favourite tasks first

By finishing your least favourite tasks first you’ll create a sense of accomplishment and positive energy. Plus, the other tasks will be more pleasant, which will in turn make you more productive.

Unsubscribe from newsletters

Consider unsubscribing from unnecessary newsletters. If you need to be subscribed to a certain newsletter, don’t use your work email address.

Pay less attention to the news

The news often covers things that aren’t relevant to you or your work, and may waste your time. So skip the news and, instead, focus on what is useful in your life and will help you get your work done.

Wear headphones and listen to background music

If you wear headphones, others will think you’re busy and it’ll discourage them from approaching and distracting you. Listening to background music blocks out distractions, builds your focus, and enhances your creative thinking.

Try a change of scenery

To increase your focus, look the nature outside your window. If you’re not sitting next to a window, look at an image of nature on your computer. You could also take a 30-minute walk outside to reduce your stress and boost your enthusiasm for the rest of the day.

Start working at 4am

At 4am in the morning everyone will still be asleep, giving you a lot of peace and quiet. So wake up early, and work when there’s no one around to disturb you.

Get back to work once everyone’s asleep

If you’re working from home, work at night when everyone else is sleeping and won’t interrupt you. This can help you focus and get more work done.

Get some morning exercise

Exercise gives you more energy, promotes good health, and improves your mood for up to 12 hours after the workout. Overall, it’ll make you less stressed, and therefore more efficient.

Stretch your body

This boosts hyper-oxygenation in your brain, which gives you energy and makes you more efficient. So consider taking the stairs, walking to a further bathroom, doing small leg and arm stretches, or standing up from time to time.

Do a power pose

An expansive body posture puts you into the right state of mind, which in turn helps boost your motivation.

Splash cold water on your face

Cold water increases blood flow to your entire body, boosting your energy.

Sit up straight

Sitting up straight can improve your mood and increase your energy. You can do this by ensuring your monitor is at eye level, and the keyboard is at elbow level.

Drink more water

Like exercise, drinking more water has many benefits for your body. This includes making you more energised, keeping you healthy, and giving you a reason to use the bathroom so you’re not sitting down all day.

Fuel your body

Along with drinking lots of water, there are foods that can help you concentrate and maintain your energy. These include omega oils, proteins and carbohydrates.

Drink green tea or coffee

Green tea has caffeine and theanine, which can improve your accuracy and ability to focus. From 9.30-11.30am and 1.30-5pm your natural cortisol level drops, so drink tea or coffee during these times.

Chew gum

Chewing gum helps increase the flow of oxygen through the body which can make you more alert and maintain your focus for longer.

Take breaks between tasks

Fatigue can lead to reduced productivity, so take a break. Have a Kit Kat or a cup of tea, or take a walk in the park to refresh yourself and clear your mind.

Rest your eyes

Turn your gaze away from your computer every 20 minutes and look at a distant object that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is called the 20-20-20 rule.

Take a power nap

After you take a nap you’ll find an improvement in your memory, alertness, cognition, performance and reaction times. So take a 10 to 20-minute nap to boost your focus and productivity.

Slow down

Try to do things slowly and deliberately. This will help you manage your attention span, and not run blind from one task to another.

Have meetings for only 30 minutes

Consider limiting meetings to 30-minutes. This will create a sense of urgency with your colleagues so you’re more likely to get things moving, and also means you can spend the rest of the day getting work done.

Have productive meetings or none at all

You can make meetings more productive by having each person give feedback or discuss any problems they may be having. Otherwise, avoid meetings where you’re not required so you don’t waste time.

Delegate work and responsibilities

Delegating duties to another person allows you to free yourself for more important tasks. Do work only you can do, and let others do the rest.

Say no

If you’re given more work to do and you know you can’t do it, say no. In order not to miss deadlines or disappoint others, only take on work you can finish in time and do well at.

Start each task with a verb

The things on your to-do list should look something like ‘Write monthly report’ or ‘Call Tim’. This way you’ll know exactly what to do, and not waste time trying to figure out what it is you were supposed to do.

Store your files in the Cloud

If all your documents are in the Cloud, you can easily and quickly access them from wherever you are.

Equip yourself with productivity tools

There are many tool that can help you track your time management (Toggl, Yast), manage all your social media accounts (Hootsuite), share articles across different social sites (Buffer), save articles to read later (Feedly, Pocket, Evernote), and remember passwords for various accounts (LastPass).

Schedule your work

Scheduling your work or ‘timeboxing’ requires you to think realistically about what you can get done. It’ll make you consider the time you have available in a given day, and what specific timeslots you can designate to finishing certain tasks.

Schedule time for stress

Also schedule a block of 20 minutes every week, for example, to give into your stress. This way, when you get back to work, you’ll be able to do it more effectively as you’ve already released some of your stress.

Make up for lost time

Consider taking calls on your way to work or listening to industry podcasts on your way home. If you’re waiting to board a flight, catch up on industry news and articles.

Work from home one day a week

Working from home means fewer distractions. This can help you focus on important tasks without interruption. You can also do a better job when your attention isn’t divided.

Use room scents

Lavender and peppermint scents will help you relax and put you in a positive mood.

Set the A/C to the right temperature

A workspace at just the right temperature can help boost your productivity. You can’t work properly or focus when you’re shivering or sweating.

Use the 2-minute rule

If you know a task will take you less than 2 minutes to finish, then you should get it done straight away. This can include replying to an email, or confirming your appointment with someone.

Stop multitasking and start monotasking

Multitasking actually makes you less efficient and produce low-quality work. It’s better to focus on one task at a time for best results.

Take the agile approach

It’s important to be agile when building software and products, managing projects, or doing any other work. This means breaking large tasks into smaller ones that can be completed within a day or week.

Set realistic goals

Setting realistic expectations for yourself sets you up for success. Start with small, attainable goals, and then work your way up from there. For example, if you want to master Excel, try learning just one new Excel tip a day.

Have a reward system for achieving your goals throughout the day

For example, take food as a reward. If you finish all of your tasks for the day, you could have a small piece of chocolate in the evening. The key is to stick to these incentives, so if you don’t achieve a goal, you don’t get the reward.

Make your workspace more ergonomic

Sitting down all day puts your health at risk, and aches, pains, and fatigue can make you less productive. The good news is there are work desks with sit-stand options or that recline, as well as chairs that move with you more naturally.

Use the right work light

Blue-enriched white light improves your mood, concentration, performance and alertness. It’ll also reduce irritability, evening fatigue, eye discomfort and sleepiness.

Declutter your desk

A messy desk can stress you out, so throw away all unnecessary papers and old paper coffee cups. Once your desk is free of clutter, you’ll be keen to do more work.

Put things you like on your desk

By decorating your desk with the things you like, you’ll feel more at home and thus perform better at work.

Make an inspirational board

Put a board up on the wall where you can stick on pictures, goals, quotes, or something you love. It’ll inspire you, and constantly remind you of your goals.

Make time for innovation

Give your team members some time to work outside their usual projects and on the things they believe would really benefit the company. For example, instead of making the same widget every day, set aside time to think about new widgets you could make.

Laugh plenty

Having a good sense of humour can help you do a better job. So during your breaks, watch some funny videos on YouTube.

Make verbal commitments to others

When you make a verbal commitment to another person, it’s harder for you to break it. Saying “I’ll give you the report by the end of the day” makes you more committed to making it happen.

Make more friends at work

Having friends at the office can increase your job satisfaction and engagement at work.

Wear work clothes

Wearing clothes specifically for work will help your mind switch into work mode, and also help you establish the right attitude.

Lock your door and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign

This will make it clear to everyone you don’t want to be distracted. And the less distractions, the more work you can get done.

Use the spider technique

If people entering the room easily distract you, try to ignore them and continue working. By not paying attention to distractions, you can maintain your focus on the task at hand.

Stop trying to be perfect

You can always make a piece of work better, but if doing so means sacrificing time just to make slight improvements, skip it. Simply do the best you can in a reasonable amount of time, and then move on to your next task.

Procrastinate in a productive way

To relax your mind, do something you like and has nothing to do with work. You can check out recipes, or read a book or article. After that, you’ll feel more energised and focused rather than frustrated you wasted your time.

Create a false sense of urgency

A sense of urgency enhances productivity and creativity. For example, setting time limits will make you work harder and therefore get more things done.

Make bad habits hard

If you often find yourself surfing the web when you’re supposed to be doing work that’s offline, disconnect from the internet. Making things difficult for yourself can help break a bad habit.

Don’t go on social media sites

Again, you can disconnect from the web to prevent yourself from logging into your social media accounts. But if it’s part of your job stay within scheduling apps like Hootsuite, or open a Facebook at Work account so you don’t use your personal account.

Put your mobile phone out of sight

Unless you need to make calls or expect to receive calls, it’s best to keep your mobile phone out of sight while you’re working. This’ll stop you from checking it every 15 minutes or so.

Let all calls go to voicemail

Another option is to divert incoming calls to your voicemail, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to answer your phone. Return important calls when you can, and the rest at the end of the day.

Check your plans for Monday on Sunday

If you often feel overwhelmed on Monday morning, try checking what your plans are for the day on Sunday evening. This way, you’ll be more organised, sleep better, and beat the Monday blues.

Plan something fun to do on the weekend

By planning a fun activity for the weekend you’ll give yourself something to look forward to, creating energy and motivation during the entire week.

Methods

The to-done list and the to-don’t list

If you always worry about how much work you didn’t finish the day before, or have many bad habits that prevent you from being productive, this method is for you. On the to-done list, write down the things you’ve accomplished during the day to keep you focused on your progress. On the to-don’t list, write down the things you want to avoid, and check them off when you do avoid them.

Personal Kanban

If you tend to start many projects but finish only a few of them, this is a great but simple system you can use. Using sticky notes or a whiteboard, divide your projects into 3 categories: To Do, Doing, and Done. It’ll remind you to finish your current projects before you start new ones.

The SMART method

If you’re in the early phases of a big project and have to strategize before you jump in, this method is useful. It helps you determine what the project is and what you want to achieve (Specific), the tasks and steps to complete the project (Measurable), who’ll do which task or step (Assignable), the obstacles in your way and how to overcome them (Realistic), and deadlines (Timely).

The Action method

If you have to turn creative brainstorming into a to-do list you can carry out, this method can help. Simply break down the ideas into 3 categories: Action Items (steps taken to carry out the project), Backburner Items (interesting ideas that don’t directly fit into the plan for the project), and Reference Items (information and resources required to finish the project).

Pomodoro/Sprints

If you feel like there’s not enough time in the day or you tend to get distracted, try the Pomodoro technique to help you maintain your focus. Work for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and then repeat this until you’d done 4 sprints, after which you take a 30-minute break.

Don’t break the chain

This method can motivate you to get things done. Pick an important goal, a skill you want to improve, or a routine task, and every day you work towards your goal or finish the task, put a large X on your calendar with a red marker. You’ll soon have a chain of Xs, which will remind you not to break your momentum if you want to achieve your end goal.

The Eisenhower matrix

If you find it hard to see things in black-and-white, and prefer to prioritise on a continuum instead of stuffing tasks into a few categories, this method is perfect for you. Draw 4 boxes on a piece of paper and starting clockwise, write Urgent and Important (do it immediately), Urgent but not Important (delegate to somebody else), Not Important and Not Urgent (do it later), and Important but not Urgent (decide when you’ll do it).

Agile results

If you’re goal-oriented, deal with complex projects, or have to keep to a timeline, this system can help you. Identify 3 outcomes you want to see for the day, week, month and year. Your daily goals should align with your weekly goals, your weekly goals with your monthly goals, and your monthly goals with your yearly goals. At the end of each time period, look at what worked and what didn’t, and make any adjustments.

Must, should, want

When creating your to-do list, write down what you must do (an important task that’ll benefit you in the short term), should do (a task that’ll contribute to your long-term goals), and want to do (a task you’re passionate about and will help maintain your sanity). This way, you’ll avoid burnout, no longer dread your to-do list, and make your productivity sustainable.

Biological prime time

This is the time when you’re at your most productive. To figure yours out, first pay attention to your productivity, focus and motivation. Then every 1-2 hours, rate each on a scale from 1-10. At the end of the week, create a graph and see where the three of them align at a high point – this is your biological prime time. If you find you’re more productive at night, then do your most important tasks during this time. If you’re a morning person, then get your most important work done in the morning.

Getting things done

To get things done, write down the things you have to do, the steps you’ll take to do them, and when you should them finished. You could also consider doing a task immediately if it takes less than 2 minutes, delegating it, scheduling it, or putting it in a ‘someday’ folder if it isn’t urgent. This helps to clear your head and organise the things you should do, so you can actually get them done.

Weekly planner

Create a weekly planner that lists your roles, goals, priorities, appointments and commitments for each day of the week. It could take about 30-45 minutes to plan out a whole week, but it’ll be worth it in the end. You might just find the things you’ve written down actually get done!

1-minute management

This method’s about investing time at the start of a new project to establish clear marching orders and expectations, and from there letting your employees make their own decisions about getting the project or job done, without always relying on management. It also gives employees a sense of empowerment that will boost their efficiency and productivity.

tools / apps

1-3-5 list

This helps to prioritise your day. Simply pick 1 big task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 small tasks to accomplish. Check off each one as you complete them, and add new tasks for the next day using the 1-3-5 method.

Carrot

Carrot makes your to-do list fun by gamifying the process. When you complete your tasks it will give you rewards, but when you slack off Carrot will become upset.

Wunderlist

You can use Wunderlist for work to help you tick off your professional to-dos. It’s got a lot of features, such as public and collaborative lists, as well as real time sync.

TeuxDeux

TeuxDeux is a visually compelling and user-friendly to-do app you can use at work. You can also take it with you on the road, to check things off as you go.

Bullet Journal

The Bullet Journal can be your to-do list, notebook, diary and sketchbook. It’s centred around a technique called rapid logging, which helps you to direct your time and energy more efficiently.

Today.txt

Today.txt is a simple desktop text file that asks you to write down the one thing you want to accomplish for the day, which it will break down into smaller, actionable tasks.

Post-it notes

If your list of things to do won’t fit on a post-it note, then it definitely won’t fit in your day. And with fewer, more accomplishable things to do, the more focused and productive you’ll be.

Evernote

From writing and collecting, to finding and presenting, you can keep track of everything you need, as well as share and collaborate with others using Evernote.

Trello

With Trello you can see everything about your project in just one glance with its digital board of post-it notes, cards, stickers and colours. It also keeps your team up to date on each project’s progress.

Asana

Asana is another easy way for your team to track your work and get great results. It keeps tasks and conversations in one location, allowing you to navigate and track projects, as well as free your team from getting lots of emails.

StayFocusd

StayFocusd not only limits the amount of time you spend on time-wasting websites, it also prevents you from going to these websites. However you do have control over which websites are and aren’t on the list...

Abukai Expenses

Take pictures of your receipts, scan them in, and Abukai will turn them into an expense report in no time. Information such as costs, dates, and vendors will be filled in for you.

Prezi

Prezi can help you create presentations quickly, and can even make them stand out with the use of animation. Simply put all your text, graphics, and captions on one page, and then trace a path from one item to another.

Wrike

Wrike is an award winning project management and collaboration tool used by high performing teams. Organise tasks, manage project, and improve collaboration so your team call exceed your goals.

Courses

Agile Project Management – Foundation/Practitioner Combined

If you work in a project environment, this course from ALC Training will help you learn about the people, products, and practices needed to quickly and successfully implement your projects.

Six Sigma Green Belt

This course, also from ALC Training, will teach you how to minimise defects in your end product, thereby improving the quality of your projects, decreasing costs, and enhancing productivity.

These hacks, apps and methods should have you on your way to your most productive work week
ever. But if you want to take your training to the next level, why not give ALC Training a call? We’re
leaders in providing Australian businesses and governments quality workplace training in IT
Management and Workplace Relations.

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