Productivity hacks are becoming an increasingly important part of our lives. Is it any wonder? After all, we have many hats throughout our days and weeks that all require attention and time.
Take my particular circumstance for example. I am a mum, a team leader, a business owner, a student and an active charity volunteer. Being a business owner in itself involves many hats. You may wonder how I manage to wear all those hats and get the job done.
My secret weapon is productivity hacks. And I’m going to share a couple of them with you in a special two part blog.
For part one, let’s look at productivity hack processes.
Reducing online distractions
We’ve all become accustomed to mobiles, social media notifications and emails calling the shots. But they don’t have to. Creating a situation when you’re immediately available (urgent client or media requests are an exception) and able to be interrupted is not good for your productivity.
If you need to focus without distractions, don’t be afraid to use the do not disturb features available to you. Close email and turn off notifications when they are not necessary to getting the job done. For example, I will sometimes disconnect from wifi and occasionally if a staff member is available to notify me of any important calls to the office phone I turn on the ‘do not disturb’ feature on my mobile.
Remove your chance of being interrupted by online distractions and enjoy the productivity that creating space for focussing on the task at hand can bring.
Make use of time-blocking
Remember when you were a kid and how productive you were during a big test? It was you, that paper and a big clock going head to head.
There is something to be said for putting time pressure on what we do. It gives us the focus to power through the task at hand, and gives us the relief and reward of knowing it is complete. That’s why blocking out time, or time-boxing as it is often termed, is something I find works well.
And I am not alone. The process of setting work in short concentrated bursts with scheduled breaks is so effective that many major software developers use this method to block days, weeks and months to break down the work load into manageable chunks.
So if you’re struggling to get started or to keep concentration, time-blocking can be used to break through those barriers.
I recommend checking out the Pomodoro Technique for a good method for time blocking.
Priorities are important
A ‘to do list’ can often be a millstone around the desk of life. There it is, bursting with information and begging for you to finish so many things throughout the day.
How do you make the right choices when so many different things are competing for time?
Priorities are your best friend. We must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent, fun or easy to do, or are a result of the most recent email in our inbox.
Think about the deadlines, the importance of the task and what other timely or essential tasks rely on a tasks completion. Review what you need to do the night before and place a priority behind the tasks you need to complete. As you go through your priorities, you may see opportunities for delegating and will also know what two or three main tasks must be completed in each day.
Pretty soon, that untamed mass of bleating tasks is an orderly cue of work for the next day, waiting to be tackled. And if an unimportant but urgent task comes up during your day, you are then in a position to know if you should take the task on at the expense of your important tasks, or if you should delegate or decline it.
The power of process in productivity
You’ll find there are countless blogs, articles and books that espouse the merits of adopting a process and sticking to it. This is because we enjoy a little routine in our lives. Structure is like the bones that allow us to flesh out our daily business.
And that’s why the framework in how you deal with distractions, how you use your time and managing your ‘to do list’ effectively can make a huge difference to your productivity.
Next, we’ll take a look at ways you can hack your attitude towards productivity.