12 productivity hacks that will help you work better
To keep you on the straight and narrow, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite productivity hacks. Implement even just a few of them, and you’ll notice an immediate spike in your productivity.
Get your sleeping pattern right
It’s a well-known fact that feeling fatigued will lower your productivity. So keep the sleepiness at bay by making sure you get around 8 hours sleep per night. The key here is consistency, so try to get to sleep and wake up at the same times each day.
Make exercise part of your morning routine
We’re all aware of how important it is to keep healthy and active. But did you know that the endorphins released following exercise can contribute to an increased ability to maintain focus? So, pull on your running shoes every morning and get more stuff done.
Adapted from the world of project management, time-boxing has become the go-to organisation tool for many professionals. It’s a simple method, where you allocate a certain amount of time to a task and then complete the task in that time. It takes practice, but the results are worth the effort.
Learn to love your to-do list
Despite all the advances in automation and digital efficiency, the humble to-do list remains essential for anyone who wants to get stuff done. It’s so easy to implement, too. Carry around a notepad and pen (or use an app like Wunderlist), and each time a new task makes itself known, jot it down. Then, use that list as a starting point to build out your time-boxes (see above). Easy!
Regular movement helps to focus the mind and keeps the creative juices flowing. To avoid being stationary for too long, get up once an hour to go and make a brew or have a stroll outside for two minutes. Those few minutes of moving around will help you get a new perspective on a problem or unlock a new way of thinking.
Don’t be a slave to your inbox
The familiar ‘ping’ of a new email arriving in your inbox can be distracting. Before you know it, you’ll be working on replying to that email and ignoring the task you were halfway through. Instead, assign a set period every day to clear out your inbox. That way, you stay focused, and your inbox remains uncluttered.
Tune-in with the right tunes
Studies have shown that complete silence can reduce creative thinking. At the same time, prominent pop music with vocal hooks and rhythms can be distracting. It’s best to listen to ambient or minimalist classical music to help you maintain focus when working. Don’t know where to start? There are hundreds of playlists on Spotify and Apple Music, ready-made to soundtrack your productivity.
Learn to delegate
As a contractor or freelancer, it’s easy to think you’ve got to do everything yourself. That’s not true. Instead of spending time trying to repair your laptop or doing your own tax returns, pay a specialist to complete the work for you. It might cost money, but it takes up time could be spent earning or developing your chargeable skills.
Drink plenty of water
This one sounds almost too obvious, but regular intake of water is vital to keeping your mind fueled. Aim for two litres a day as a minimum. As a bonus, the extra toilet breaks will get you up and around throughout the day, too.
Whether it’s a meeting or getting started on a new task, stick to your daily timings religiously. As soon as times start to slip, you’ll find yourself missing deadlines and, potentially, losing clients. Your dedication to timekeeping should stretch to downtime too. If you’ve planned in half a day to catch up with friends, then dedicate your time to it.
Don’t skimp on self-development
With client deadlines to meet, it can be easy to forget about personal development. But finding inspiration in a relevant podcast or book can push your productivity through the roof. Be sure to factor some time in each week to building your knowledge base. Even an hour of learning will help you work more effectively.
Learn your limits
Although we’d all like to think that there are no upper limits on the amount of work we can do, it’s just not true. To avoid burn-out, work on monitoring your productivity. What times of the day do you work best? Is there a number of hours after which your output starts to slip in quality? Knowing where limits lie will help you to plan better and increase efficiency.
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