Jun 5, 2017 / By Nichole Schlecht
Are you struggling with productivity? Do you feel like you’re drowning in the chaos of your current routine? Then this post is for you! These productivity hacks will keep your energy levels high, task list organized and distractions at a minimum. Let’s dive in!
Productivity Hack #1: Exercise
Exercise is a natural energy booster, so it makes sense that higher energy levels = greater productivity.
At the University of Georgia, Professor Patrick O’Connor conducted a study with 36 volunteers who did not exercise on a regular basis. The study found that low-intensity exercise can increase energy levels by 20% and decrease fatigue by 65%!
Another study, conducted by the University of Bristol on 200 employees of three different organizations found that, on workout days, Participants’:
- Concentration on work was 21% higher than non-workout days.
- Felt more motivated to work by a whopping 41% than non-workout days.
- Were 22% more likely to finish their work on time than non-workout days.
There are a few suggestions to keep in mind when exercising for productivity.
- Talk a walk outdoors on your break, weather and location permitting. The fresh air in addition to the exercise will do your body good.
- Keep it short. Twenty to thirty minutes is the perfect amount of time to spend when exercising for a productivity boost.
- Low-intensity workouts are better when you want to increase your energy. Stretching, casual walking and lifting hand weights are all examples of low-intensity exercises.
Productivity Hack #2: Make a “To-Do List”
Every day, start with a basic list of the things you need to get done. Then, use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize your tasks.
What is the Eisenhower Matrix?
In short, it’s an awesome way to organize your list. You classify the urgency and importance of each task into one of four quadrants. Example below.
Getting the task list out of your head and onto a notepad, word doc or my favorite, a handy dandy notebook, is the first step toward a more organized work life. Take the next step and organize your tasks by importance and urgency.
Creating a to-do list will help you create a schedule for yourself and remove any ambiguity from your path for the day.
Productivity Hack #3: Take Frequent Breaks
In a recent study, researchers Emily M. Hunter and Cindy Wu at Baylor University measured:
- Resources such as energy, motivation and concentration levels before and after breaks.
- Somatic symptoms including a headache, eye strain, lower back pain, muscle soreness and heavy feelings in the arms and legs.
- Person-level outcomes — emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB)
They found that “resources mediated the influence of preferred break activities and time of break on health symptoms and that resource recovery benefited person-level outcomes of emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior. Finally, break length interacted with the number of breaks per day such that longer breaks and frequent short breaks are associated with more resources than infrequent short breaks.”
Basically, long breaks where you do an enjoyable, non-work related activity, leads to an assortment of benefits for your physical and mental well-being.
Productivity Hack #4: Meditate
Psychology Today defines meditation as “the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra.”
The benefits of meditation are extensive:
- Improve focus and memory
- Increase blood circulation in your brain
- Better planning capacity
- Enhancing creativity
- Stress relief — for free!
And many more benefits of meditation that are surprising, such as helping people to manage symptoms of sleep problems, tension headaches, and cancer!
If you’re new to meditation, there are a ton of apps available for iPhone and Android devices. Headspace, one of the highest and most rated meditation apps on the app store, offers Take10 which is it’s free, introductory guided meditation to help you get started.
If you’re into socializing and chatting about spirituality, you can also check out Insight Timer, which is an entirely free meditation app. It’s an excellent alternative for the more advanced meditation practitioner but has something for everyone from beginner to pro.
Productivity Hack #5: Take Control of Your Inbox
If you check your email constantly or even on a regular basis, you know that it’s difficult to get back to wherever you were before you were distracted by the call of your inbox. You may even have a dozen or more email subscriptions you never even read. The struggle is real!
Let me introduce you to your new best friend, Sanebox.
Sanebox praised as “the best thing to ever happen to email,” is so useful you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
It helps you train your inbox.
Each subscription plan includes SaneLater, SaneArchive, SaneConnect and SaneNoReplies.
SaneLater moves unimportant email into its own @SaneLater folder.
SaneArchive moves inactive emails into the @SaneArchive folder. Sanebox organizes the first 5000 emails. 5001 and older move automatically to that folder.
SaneConnect lets you search domain names to find people you have relationships with at that company. You can then request an intro with one click!
SaneNoReplies keeps track of the emails you sent that haven’t been responded to yet.
You can also add additional features like creating custom folders and training. All plans include at least one optional feature of your choosing.
Think how powerful it would be to have your inbox trained to do exactly what you want it to do.
Productivity Hack #6: Simplify Your Workspace
Simplifying your workspace isn’t about cleaning up your workspace. It’s about creating a workspace that is conducive to your work-style.
If you work better in a clean, organized workspace, look into things that can help provide you that type of workspace.
Do you constantly have pens, markers and other writing utensils sitting out on your desk?
Grabbing a pencil holder (or DIYing something magic) to straighten up is a super simple way to make your space a little neater quickly.
If you have more of an organized mess (your desk appears messy, but you can find exactly what you need in less than 5 seconds), simplifying can be as simple as removing items that don’t need to be there. Backscratchers, nail polish, and toys your kids left behind are all examples of items you don’t need in your room.
Take a few minutes to get rid of those things and breathe a little easier. =)
Productivity Hack #7: Airplane Mode
Any time you download an app on your phone, the app asks if it can send you notifications. It may seem like a good idea at the time but after all of the app beeps, dings from text messages and rings from friends and family, it can get distracting.
Airplane mode isn’t just for flights. It’s a pretty useful tool to keep your phone from distracting you from getting your work done.
You don’t need to keep it on all day. In fact, regularly turn it off between tasks to make sure you don’t miss something important. Turn it back on before you start the next task on your list.
Productivity Hack #8: Stop Multitasking
Results of four experiments published in 2001 by Joshua Rubinstein, Ph.D., Jeffrey Evans, Ph.D., and David Meyer, Ph.D., where participants switched between different tasks. In each experiment, the participant lost time when switching between tasks. The more complex the task, the more time lost.
If you have ever worked on a task, switched to check your email and tried to go back to your task, you know exactly what the experiment is about. It’s not easy to go from focused work to distraction and back again quickly.
There is a re-adjustment period where we need to refocus our attention.
Instead of multitasking, what should we do instead?
In her book Singletasking: Get More Done-One Thing at a Time, author Devora Zack explains how singletasking can help to accomplish a plethora of tasks and be exponentially more productive.
If you’re interested in getting started with singletasking methods, check out Devora Zack’s article Why you should stop multitasking and start singletasking.
What do you think? Have you tried productivity hacks whether for work or life in general that have worked for you? I look forward to hearing about other hacks that you’ve got in the comments.