One of the most common resolutions or goals I hear for a new year is to be more productive. After all, we spend many hours a week on our professional lives – why not be as efficient as possible?
Here are the 10 “productivity hacks” you can use this year to be your most productive self:
1. Eat that frog. Popularized by Brian Tracy, this concept is that you get up first thing in the morning and “eat the frog” (a metaphor for your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it).
2. Schedule your day. Do this ahead of time, at least the night before, and try to automate things like scheduling meetings which often takes a ton of back and forth (and wasted time). I recommend a tool called Acuity, which has saved me many scheduling hours and stress.
3. Remember Parkinson’s Law. A task will expand to the time you allot to it.
4. Create More Space for Deep Work by Managing OPA. Manage the time that you spend on email, social media, or returning phone calls. Why? You may allow yourself to get sucked into Other People’s Agenda. Then you might not get to those “important, but not urgent” (to use Stephen Covey’s terminology) things that can really move your career and life forward. We mentioned an application called Rescue Time.
You can also create more space physically by clutter clearing. Get rid of the excess in your space and your mind will have more room to focus on what matters!
5. Try the Pomodoro technique. This time management system is great for those trying to change their multi-tasking ways, as it forces you to focus on one task at a time for just 25 minutes. Highly recommend trying this one out!
6. Write it Down. Based on David Allen’s work (Getting Things Done), the idea is that if you get all of your to-dos and ideas down in a system that you trust, you free up energy and time to do higher productivity work. I like to utilize Google Docs with tabs like “critical now”, “opportunity now” and “on the horizon”. Depending on your spirituality and whether or not this idea resonates with you, you might want to create an additional list called “God’s list” where you “put your order into the universe” but don’t actively manage it.
7. Assign priorities to your items on your list. An overly long to-do list can be stressful and distracting in and of itself, so consider breaking things down into sub lists (1, 2, 3) or (A, B, C) and get all the 1’s or the A’s done before you move on to the bigger list.
8. Build Your Community. Mastermind groups and accountability buddies can be extremely helpful when you need to stick to a timeline or deadline.
9. Step away from the desk. There is a science behind walking meetings and why they work to increase creativity and ideation. Step outside for some fresh air and a quick mood boost – your tasks will be there when you return.
10. Let go of the tension. At the end of the day, they are just tasks. They are often flexible in deadlines and not worth the stress (especially knowing what stress can do to your body!). Learn to let go, be flexible, and focus on single items at a time versus being overwhelmed by the long lists and filled inboxes. You may even try meditation to help calm your mind.