If your to-do list is like mine — longer than the Great Wall of China — you’re probably desperate for productivity tips and shortcuts to help you squeeze a few more hours out of every day. Since we’re all about boosting productivity here at Wrike, we’ve compiled a compendium of productivity hacks to help you zip through your to-do list in record time.
Without further ado:
1. Unplug. Put your phone on airplane mode or Do Not Disturb (or use an Android app like Shush). Black out background browser tabs and notifications with an extension like StayFocusd, and mute your email with Inbox Pause for Gmail.
2. Tidy up. Did you know that the average worker spends 76 hours every year looking for lost stuff? Cleaning up your work area lets your mind focus.
3. Write distractions down. Free up some brain space by taking note of every reminder and distraction that pops in your head. It'll silence that nagging "I'm forgetting something..." feeling and let you focus on the task at hand.
4. Read/watch later. Use Pocket or the Wrike Chrome extension to save interesting links and videos that would ordinarily trigger a marathon link surfing session.
5. Take a hike. Periodic breaks refresh your brain, so go for a walk to boost creativity, sharpen your focus, and brighten your mood.
6. Change your scenery. Work from a coffee shop, library, or your backyard to improve focus and creativity without any office distractions.
7. Be healthy. Losing just 1.5 hours of sleep reduces alertness by 32%, and avoiding junk food can raise your productivity 20%. Exercise helps you better handle stress, makes you more alert, and gives you more mental energy.
8. Get comfy. An office that's too chilly or too warm (outside the 70-77 degree range) lessens productivity by 5%. The pleasant smell of lemons improves focus and reduces errors 54%. And sitting by a window keeps you focused 15% longer.
9. Go green. Houseplants improve creativity by 45% and overall wellbeing by 47%, while sharpening focus and concentration.
10. Grab some headphones. Listening to ambient music or white noise improves focus 35%.
11. Practice meditation. It teaches your brain to tune out distractions and focus longer. Even 5 minutes a day can have an impact!
12. Say "Awww!" Looking at pictures of cute baby animals or photos of nature increases your attention span and memory.
13. Quit meetings. If you can't cut them completely, keep them to short stand-ups, or make at least one whole day a week meeting-free.
14. Say no. You can't do everything! Just make sure you say no the right way: “I don’t” is more effective than “I can’t”.
15. Delegate whenever possible. You've got a slew of talented teammates around you, so use them! Just don't dump tedious busywork on them — make sure every task you and your team take on is truly worthwhile.
16. De-clutter your inbox. Unroll.me compiles all your newsletters and subscriptions into a single daily digest.
17. Track your time. RescueTime shows how many minutes you spend using various applications. By productivity tracking, you'll get an accurate picture of your daily work habits and discover where you can improve.
18. Quit Facebook (partially). Move everyone from your “friends" list to "acquaintances" — you'll still get the important updates, but you'll spend less time scrolling through quiz results and food photos in your newsfeed.
19. Automate! Create standard email responses to common inquiries, set your browser to automatically open your favorite tabs, set up an RSS feed to monitor essential news outlets and use Zapier or IFTTT to automate other routine tasks.
20. Batch similar tasks. You'll get in the zone and power through several items in less time.
21. Quit typing. Try speech dictation software to get your thoughts down faster, or record new ideas and communications on the go.
22. Keep a "Stop Doing" list. It'll help you watch out for and eliminate the fruitless time sucks from your day.
23. Stop multitasking. Not only is it less efficient, it drops your IQ 10 points. That means more mistakes, which you'll only have to go back and correct... wasting even more precious time.
24. Try the “Must, Should, Want” method. You identify three tasks that will help you accomplish your immediate and long-term goals, plus keep you from burning out.
25. Don't check your email first thing each morning. Instead, spend the first hour or two of each day tackling high-priority items. Too often emails derail our plans for the day, and what we intended to do gets pushed off or lost in the shuffle.
26. Do that ONE thing. Ask yourself: "If I could only get ONE thing done today, what would it be?" Do that first.
27. Pick 3 "Most Important" tasks. Write them on a Post-It, and keep it within sight all day long.
28. Prune your to-do list. If it can’t be done only by you and it's not important enough to delegate, rethink whether it's really worth doing at all. Don't waste time on unproductive tasks!
29. Do creative work first. Take advantage of a fresh brain and leave paperwork, meetings, and follow-up tasks for later.
30. Be picky about the work you accept. Write down your mission (or company's mission) in one concrete sentence, whether that’s “Build useful software” or “Bake beautiful wedding cakes.” Will that task help you achieve your mission? Only take it on if the answer is a firm “yes!”
31. Write tomorrow's to-do list tonight. List 3 items to jumpstart your day with a sense of purpose. And make at least one of those items something fun to get your day started on the right foot.
32. Use Stephen Covey's prioritization matrix to sort tasks. Important & Urgent at the top, then Important but Not Urgent, followed by Urgent but Not Important and finally Not Urgent and Not Important.
33. Ask yourself 5 questions: Does this get me closer to my goal? Is it important to my boss? Does it make me money? Does it make my life easier? Does it have to be done today? Sort your list based on the # of yeses.
34. Break big tasks into bite-sized pieces. This should kill your procrastination. Or, commit to working on a big project for just 30 minutes, and then stop. 30 minutes a day can add up to significant progress pretty quick!
35. Try David Allen's two-minute rule. If it takes less than two minutes, do it now. Yes, right now. Checking small items off your to-do list boosts motivation.
36. "Eat the frog." You know those big tasks you always dread? Crossing one off first thing in the day gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you motivated to get even more done.
37. Find your “biological prime time.” This is the magic hour where your energy, focus and motivation align at a high point. Schedule your most important tasks for that window.
38. Make progress visible. Check off tasks or keep an anti-to do list (see #38). It’s easy to lose motivation when you feel like a hamster running on its wheel, going nowhere. Celebrate your successes!
39. Create an “Anti-todo list.” Keep from getting down on yourself for not completing your planned to-dos by keeping a running list of all the stuff you did get done.
40. “Don't break the chain.” Mark each day you accomplish an important task with an X on your calendar, and watch the chain grow. Then don’t break the chain!
41. Start a StickK contract. Name your task or goal, give yourself a set amount of time, and then put up some cash as stakes (optional). If you achieve your goal, you keep your money. If not, it goes to charity.
42. Strike a power pose. Think Wonder Woman or Superman — wide feet, hands on hips, chest out, chin up. The right body language can boost confidence, lower stress, and help you get "in the zone."
43. Eat some chocolate. You'll get a rush of dopamine, a hormone that boosts motivation. Chocolate also releases chemicals that promote calm and stimulate your brain, perfect for buckling down and getting things done.
44. Be happy! A good mood makes you 12% more productive, so joke with a colleague, watch a funny cat video, or chat with a friend.
With these productivity tips bookmarked or pinned to your wall, your list of accomplishments will be more impressive than ever.
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