Below are some of the most used productivity hacks or tricks. Although each one boasts to be one of the best productivity hacks, each person is different and may excel with certain tricks more than others. Take the time to experiment with each one to figure out which hacks work best for you to allow you to get more done in less time.
One of the most popular productivity hacks is the Pomodoro Technique, often used by students attempting to study for their endless number of exams and tests. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy that breaks down a task into several 25-minute intervals of productive work (called a pomodoro, meaning tomato in Italian – a fun fact!), separated by short 3-5 minute breaks. Once three pomodoro intervals are completed, it is followed by a longer break, typically 15-30 minutes in length. This method allows you to work in short bursts, maximizing your concentration for short periods of time, followed by a break. Once you finish a task, you simply move onto the next.
For example, in a time slot of two hours, the Pomodoro Technique would look like this:
This technique is a helpful productivity tool in making large and daunting tasks seem much more manageable, reducing stress and allowing you to get more done in for example, the short 60 minutes that you might have between your lunch break and that super important meeting you have with your boss.
To-do lists are often overlooked, but extremely helpful when utilized correctly. To-do lists can be a great a visual tool to help you organize and prioritize your tasks and team meetings of the day. It can also help you cut down on unnecessary or unimportant tasks and visualize a schedule that can help you save time and get things done. Creating a personal to-do list is quick and can be done first thing in the morning, or the night before, to set the tone for the rest of your day.
Summarizing your daily tasks into one list will force you to make tough decisions per day about what is important and what is less so, and will encourage you to start working as soon as possible so you can see that list get done. The satisfaction that you receive from checking off items on your to-do list cannot be denied and is a feeling that is experienced universally, among all people. Each time you check off an item, your brain will release dopamine, motivating you to get the next task done as soon as possible so that you can have the satisfaction of checking off another item on the list.
This is another reason why it is important to separate your master list from your daily schedule. Your master list may have 120 separate items that need to be completed, but having such a long list often works against the motivation you might feel seeing, for example, a shorter 7 item list that is much more realistic and achievable. Creating a short and concise to-do list full of only the most important tasks is vital, and also helps to set the right tone for the rest of your day.
Multitasking, although attractive, actually reduces your efficiency and performance by forcing your brain to focus on too many tasks at once. Your brain is the most productive when it concentrates on one thing at a time, which simultaneously increases the rate of successfulness of that task. Multitasking has also been shown to contribute to increased levels of stress, higher opportunities for distractions, memory impairment on new subjects, and difficulty learning new material.
In order to combat multitasking, creating proper to-do lists and engaging in batching is recommended. Batching is when you group similar tasks together, and then block off a certain period of time to finish those tasks. This increases your work efficiency and productivity, and also helps provide a structure that you can stick to. Furthermore, completing similar tasks together has a higher chance of using only one part of your brain, instead of shifting back and forth when you try to multitask. This not only uses up your brain capacity but also your energy, making you feel tired and overworked quicker than you would by batching tasks.
An example of batching would be grouping together the task of responding to your 40 unread emails waiting in your inbox. Rather than responding to those emails separately throughout the day, responding to them all at once will allow a smooth workflow and allow you to maintain a similar mindset for a certain period of time. Your brain will also not have to flip flop back and forth between dissimilar tasks, preserving your energy and brain capacity for next tasks. Furthermore, batching helps you dedicate your full attention to only one thing at a time, which is often what your brain can handle best.
Another example of batching is prioritizing all the work that needs to be done via your laptop first, before moving on to other tasks that may not require the assistance of an electronic device. Switching between modes of work can sometimes be stressful, and any change in environment, noise or atmosphere can also unintentionally work out your brain and cause you stress, making it more difficult to maximize your productivity and stay focused when it matters most.
When working on an electronic device such as a phone or laptop, it can be easy to fall into distractions. Nowadays, there are several apps that you can download to help you block unnecessary distractions, such as temporary access to your social media accounts. You can also change your device’s settings to temporarily halt all social media and Facebook notifications which can often lead you down an endless rabbit hole. Even something as simple as turning off your Wi-Fi connection can be life-changing. These settings can be changed back when you take a break. Breaks are necessary and often the most effective when scheduling an allotted time period for them throughout the day. Increase your productivity and concentration by limiting your distractions, especially those super distracting Facebook notifications!
On the other hand, music can also be a great tool to help you block out distractions. Slow classical music has been shown to be effective in improving your mood, resulting in a calmer and clearer mind and body. If you are the type of person that gets into the zone the best with background music or white noise, popping in those earbuds or noise-cancelling headphones while you work can sometimes be the best remedy for low productivity, especially in offices where there may be lots of chatter, which can take away from your concentration and focus. Apps and online resources such as YouTube, Spotify or Discord can be especially useful when looking for playlists or music that mimics the environment or atmosphere that allows you to work and concentrate the best, whether it’s the sound of a busy coffee shop in France, Beethoven’s 5th symphony, the sound of heavy rainfall hitting concrete, the calming sound of a chaotic lunchroom cafeteria, or your favorite mind-numbing guitar cover of your favorite song. However, keep in mind that research has shown that music without words and lyrics are the most effective at upping your productivity!
In this day and age, it is no longer common or expected to be able to carry out our everyday lives without the use of technology and electronic devices. So why not put that to use? There are several apps out there, both free and paid, that can help you manage your day, whether it be the night before or on-the-go!
Amazing Marvin is one such productivity tool that can help you schedule your tasks, whether it be your daily schedule or your 12-page long master list of all that needs to be done. The best thing about Amazing Marvin is that it lets you schedule different tasks for different days, allowing you the flexibility of planning for multiple days in advance.
Another useful app is Todoist, which is a popular app that allows you to create daily to-do lists. If you are used to writing out your daily tasks on a pen and paper, Todoist is a great digital alternative and also convenient for bringing around with you on your electronic device wherever you go!
If you are having difficulty focusing on the tasks you’ve prioritized, Streaks is an app that helps you build good habits by ensuring you work on things that you actually want to work on. Each day you finish that task, your streak is extended, encouraging you to keep going so that you can meet that goal the next day as well. You can easily track statistics and progress to help keep you motivated and on top of your schedule.
Trello is an online tool for task and project management. Based on the Kaban system, Trello breaks down large assignments visually into manageable tasks. You can organize your tasks into lists and categories, assign due dates and team members, and visualize your progress.
Aside from the apps listed, there are countless other apps, websites and programs out there that you can search and download for free! Each app is different, so you may need to take the time to search for the one app or program that caters to your own personal time-management style and needs. There’s an app out there for everyone! You just need to find it.
Equally as important as productivity planners and tools are the principles that we based them off of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity that, when embraced, accelerate your energy and results. These four building blocks of productivity are: Desire, Strategy, Focus and Rhythm. When you get all four of these right, having a productivity plann
Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we often accumulate ideas and to-do lists that we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter. When you’re not passionate about the work that you need to do, this can lead to a drastic decrease in productivity.
Underneath all of that powerful productivity is desire, and not just the little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. This is the desire you feel in your gut; the desire that comes from your soul and not your logic, and is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.
In the end, tools such as productivity planners are just a distraction if you’re not clear about what it is that you really want, or what it is that you are working towards. With the right desire, however, your productivity planner can be a powerful tool, acting as guides to help you achieve what you really need and desire.
Once you are clear on your overarching desire, you will need to organize your steps to get there. This is called strategy. Strategy is similar to assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and to ultimately attempt to visualize the bigger picture.
In business and in life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our to-do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t necessarily important or necessary to the bigger picture of our puzzle.
Strategy is about taking the time to dump from your brain all of the things in your head related to your goal, and then look for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that you need to prioritize as well as the less important tasks that are irrelevant to your ultimate goal.
In the best selling book, The One Thing, the main question that they ask is:
“What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”
This is the heart of strategy, in which you are forced to make decisions about what will make it to your planner and what won’t.
With your priorities identified, you can now focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold down the fort.
At this stage, because you’ve already turned over your puzzle pieces and have identified the bigger picture, your concentration won’t be taken away by shiny and distracting new objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will be able to better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and prioritize focusing on your One Thing.
The final building block of productivity is Rhythm. For each person, there is a unique rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time will stand still, productivity will become easy, and your experience of work will become joyful.
Some call this Flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm, you will find yourself riding the flow easily and more often, allowing you to completely own your productivity. Once you achieve all four building blocks of productivity, you will no longer be trapped by your lack of productivity. Instead, you will be the one to control it.
On the other hand, without these four building blocks of productivity, it is like being a painter with a paintbrush but having no idea how to use it to create or bring to life what is in your heart. However, if you harness these four building blocks, you will find yourself getting more and more work done in less time.
As with all habits, developing good productivity habits will take time. However, if you stick with these productivity tips and tricks consistently, you will find that these habits will begin to come naturally to you, until you reach the point where you engage in them without thinking consciously about having to do it.
If you struggle with developing productive habits, here are some productivity tips that will help you keep those good habits in the long-run:
Habits will not develop in a single day. Like a muscle, it will take time and consistency before that action becomes part of your muscle memory. To do this successfully without the temptation of giving up halfway, you must start small. Overtime, increase the frequency or level of the habit, challenging yourself to tackle more and more each time.
In order to develop any sort of habit, you must engage in the task consistently, until it becomes so ingrained into your daily routine that you no longer have to think about it, for example, taking the time first thing each morning to create a to-do list or a daily schedule. It is also good to be consistent with your breaks, taking no less or more time than needed, so that you can use the rest of your time productively. Being consistent can be difficult, especially if you are just starting out, so alarms, apps and online calendars can be especially helpful in reminding you of what you need to do and when!
Despite the advice to start small, it is not a good idea to stay small. Increase the intensity of your goals each time and continue to challenge yourself more and more so that you can achieve even more than what you may have initially set out to achieve. There is always room for improvement, and hopefully these productivity hacks are a good place to start!
Planning your day from start to finish is one of the best productivity hacks that you can engage in, and can even be considered a productivity tool itself. Planning your tasks forces you to create and follow a structured schedule, managing your time so that you can do what you need to get your work done, turning a productive day into a productive week, and even turning a productive week into a productive month. When you write out your tasks visually, it becomes easier to sort, prioritize and group tasks. Benjamin Franklin once said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
So how can you plan your day for optimal productivity? Here’s how:
Following a familiar structure or routine is the greatest hack of all. Once you familiarize yourself with the process and tools that work best for you, you’ll find yourself able to just get things done. Time management becomes a breeze!
One of the biggest contributors of low productivity is workplace stress. When you are experiencing job-related stress, your brain is less able to concentrate, increasing opportunities for distraction. When you are distracted, one thing leads to another and suddenly, you realize you’ve been scrolling on your Instagram explore feed and looking at goofy pictures of raccoons for the better part of an hour. This results in lack of motivation and failure to complete important tasks. The resulting stress of the wasted time may then cause you to engage in multitasking, which leads to inefficiency and failure to remain productive.
There are only so many hours in a day, which is why creating a schedule and planning your day hour by hour is so important so that you can use those hours wisely to get done the things that need to get done. If you find that your productivity is low, try changing up your daily routine, or using your scheduled break to go out for a walk or to call a friend, or if you’re used to working alone, find a coworker that you can work alongside or collaborate with to motivate each other to work. Changing up your routine is sometimes what is necessary, so that you don’t find yourself falling into that familiar slump. Experiment with different productivity hacks so that you can create a life full of productivity and success.
Achieving productivity may seem like a pipe dream, but by using the correct productivity tools and following the right productivity hacks that work best for you, achieving your optimal productivity may not be that far away! Aside from the hacks highlighted in this article, there are still numerous productivity hacks out there that you may not have discovered yet. On your journey, you may also find or invent new productivity hacks of your own, which can help someone else on their own journey.
And remember – just as the phrase “productivity hacks” have been used consistently, over and over again, throughout this article, remember to keep consistent with your habits and routines! Consistency is the key to developing good, solid, long-term productivity habits. Don’t lose focus, and don’t forget that it’s okay (and necessary) sometimes to take a nice break! Just don’t forget to pencil it in, preferably in the morning.