“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” — Paul J. Meyer
Hacking your Productivity
If you’re like any other average, breathing, human being, then you struggle with your productivity. Often, the thing that can hold us back the most in life, is our inability to consistently produce results, repeatedly. Usually, most of us have spurts of productivity; our productivity has peaks, but it also has frequent valleys. It’s those drops in productivity that tends to hold us back in life.
But, if you want to get ahead and make progress, it’s clear that you need to be productive most of the time, not just some of the time. You simply can’t just have two or three days of high-productivity in any given week, and low productivity for the remainder of the week. It just doesn’t work that way. But, we also know that being and staying highly-productive all the time is difficult.
Usually, we get caught up. At one point, we’re riding a productivity high, and suddenly, we’re deadened by something that zaps our spirit. We hit one of life’s stumbling blocks, or we simply indulge in one of our preferred hedonistic pleasures to dull the pain and boredom of life. However, these drops in productivity, lead to a decreased quality of life. In turn, not only do our finances suffer, but so do our careers, health, and relationships as well.
So, what are we supposed to do?
Well, there’s a few things involved when we’re speaking about productivity. First, there are some impediments to our productivity. These include things like procrastination, poor time management skills, and our lack or inability to focus. These impediments need to be overcome on a consistent basis if we’re going to see any considerable changes in our lives. But, productivity gaps help to bridge the divide of inaction and action.
What Are Productivity Hacks?
We’ve all come familiar with the term hack. In the computer world, a hack is a work-around method that tests the limits or possibilities of computer-engineered systems. In life, productivity hacks do much the same, referring to shortcuts, skills, or even tricks that increase the productivity output in an ingenious or inspirational way.
The important thing to note about productivity hacks are that they’re not all original or new. In computers and software, hacking involves a high degree of originality, since once a hack is discovered, it’s usually patched as quickly as possible. But life hacks, or productivity hacks, are different. There exists multiple known methods for working around our inabilities to get and stay productive.
#1 – Set Daily Goals
Quite possibly the foundation of a productive day, by setting daily goals, once per day in the morning, you set yourself up for a productive 24 hours. So, why does goal setting work so well? Well, often, we tend to get sidetracked and lose focus due to information overload and a general sense of overwhelm. Our duties and responsibilities in life tend to throw us one curveball after another.
However, daily goal setting helps to alleviate the stress and anxiety of having to juggle multiple tasks in any given day. When you set daily goals for yourself, you outline just what you plan to get done, and how much energy you should assert towards each task, giving you a roadmap for the day. This organizational effort is key to overcoming some of those constant and incessant hurdles that we tend to face.
#2 – Manage Time Effectively
Throughout our day, we tend to get repeatedly interrupted. Everything from family, to finances, to careers, and health can break our momentum. The constant influx of emails, phone calls, and other interruptions help to compound the daily frustrations. But, to push past this, and be highly productive, we have to manage our time effectively.
Managing time effectively is probably one of the most important productivity hacks that you can employ. This has much to do with employing the quadrant time-management system. Every day, in the morning, you have to detail out the activities that you’ll assert your initial efforts towards, which should be your long-term goals. You also have to avoid interruptions and make sure that you timely deal with things before they turn into a criss that can’t be ignored.
#3 – Make Lists
Beyond just managing your time effectively, comes the simple productivity hack of always making lists. Keep a notepad nearby and use the traditional method of writing out short lists for tasks that you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’re grocery shopping, you should always have a list with you beforehand so that you’re more effective with your time.
But lists help for everything that needs to be done in life. Goals and time management might act like a compass and a road, but list-building is what helps to bridge the short term with the long term. Make lists for everything that you do. If you’re sitting down to begin a task, make a list first. What do you plan to achieve from that task? What are the most important objectives? And so on.
#4 – Institute One Micro-change
Micro-changes are one of the best ways to hack your productivity because they let you build better habits slowly over time. So, what is a micro-change exactly? It’s a very small change to your routine that you can then build up0n. For example, if you have the goal of being more fit or eating healthier, you could commit to the simple act of just 5 pushups each day or eating just one apple per day, without changing anything else.
Over time, as you institute this small habit, the fibers in the strands of your routines get stronger; the micro-change slowly builds into a larger habit. What you’ll come to notice is that, if you don’t disrupt this habit, and stick to the one small micro-change, over time that change will balloon into something far greater. So, pick one small thing and do it every day. For example, put one dollar into a jar every single day to start a savings habit, and so on.
#5 – Work at 5am
This might sound ridiculous to you, but doing work at this forsaken hour is actually a productivity hack. Early in the morning, there are far fewer distractions and interruptions. The world is still and silent and you can focus on your tasks much easier. It might be difficult to initially get up early enough to work at 5am, but once you’re working, you’ll be surprised at just how much you can get done.
This doesn’t have to be something you do every single day. In fact, don’t commit to that. Simple get up once, very early in the morning, and be at work by 5am, at your desk, and ready to go. Then, work as if it were 9am, and see just how much you get done in those first few hours when your office is quiet. If you work from home, this is far easier to do at least once in a while.
#6 – Turn off the Internet
Choose one block of time in the day and turn off the Internet. This is especially important if you find yourself distracted by social media, news, and video sites. Turning off the Internet is an excellent method for hacking productivity, because all of those distractions and information overload help to sidetrack us with ease.
If you also have a phone with Internet access, turn off your phone, or disable the data on your phone for the block of time that you choose. Maybe it’s a one-hour block of time in the morning, or two hours in the middle of the day. Whatever time you choose, ensure that you do it and you stick to it. You’ll survive without the Internet for a little while and you’ll find yourself getting far more done.
#7 – Do Nothing
This might sound strange to you, but, doing nothing for a short period will actually boost your productivity. When you focus on doing nothing for a short period, you’re actually alleviating the mind for a little while. This short recharge period allows us to refocus our energies through subconscious data-processing. When the information isn’t constantly flowing in to the conscious mind, the subconscious mind can help to resolve pre-existing issues and problems that may be holding us back from progressing further on something.
However, what tends to happen is the opposite. We overcrowd our minds with so much mindless information that it gets overwhelmed. When it gets overwhelmed, that little voice inside of our heads pushing us towards indulging in our utmost hedonistic pleasures. We over-drink, overeat, over-smoke, over-shop, and overdo just about everything. Take ample time to simply just do nothing. Take a walk in a park or sit quietly and listen to relaxing music.
#8 – One Unpleasant Task Each Day
Take one of the tasks that you’ve absolutely been avoiding, set a timer somewhere for 15 minutes, and work on that one task. Only commit to 15 minutes. That’s all. But it must be something that you’ve been putting off or avoiding for a while. You know which tasks I’m talking about right now, don’t you? We all have many of these on our plate.
Maybe you’ve been promising to start a business or go on a diet. Whatever it is, pick that one task, and spend 15 minutes on it. If it’s a new business, begin by researching corporate structures, or bank account types. If it’s a diet, find out what diets work best out there and spend some time reviewing them on the Web. All it takes is just 15 minutes. That’s all.