6 Productivity Hacks
A word to the wise:
According to Dictionary.com, productivity is “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.” Essentially productivity is being effective with your work to achieve a desired result. The best way to become more productive is to prepare your work space, prioritize properly and actively make the right decisions.
Let’s be productive and jump straight into this post! Here is College Word to the Wise’s 6 Productivity Hacks to get you started on the right path.
#1 – Prioritize Fitness and Health
If I had to point to one thing in my life that has changed my productivity the most, it would be my morning workouts. That being said, working out at anytime of day consistently is beneficial for your health, productivity, happiness and many other benefits. What really stands apart between a morning workout and an evening workout is that a morning workout energizes you.
For example, I really enjoy writing and spending time with my girlfriend after work and before bed I like to practice my guitar. After work I am fairly tired and if I head straight home to eat and workout, I leave myself only about an hour to write, spend time with my girlfriend and play guitar at the end of the evening.
7:30 am – wake up and eat
8:45 am – Head to work
9:00 am – Start work
5:00 pm – End work
5:30 pm – Eat
6:30 or 7:00 pm – workout
8:30 pm- Finish workout and shower
9:00 pm – Writing, spend time with girlfriend and play guitar
10:30 pm – Bed
As you can see from the above schedule, there is very little time for anything besides work and working out. To make matters worse, after work we are usually tired and almost tapped out of motivation!
If I simply prioritize my workout for when I wake up, I give myself substantially more time in the afternoon to address my other goals.
6:30 am – wake up and eat banana
6:50 am – head to gym for workout
8:00 am – shower/eat and head to work
9:00 am- Start work
5:00 pm – End work
5:30 pm – Writing Time
7:00 pm – Dinner
8:00 pm – Spend time with Girlfriend/run errands
9:00 pm – Make tea/watch tv
9:45 pm – Practice Guitar
10:15 pm – Bed time
The above schedule starts an hour earlier to allow time for the gym before work. By simply changing 1 activity to the morning, I now have at least 1 hour of writing time before dinner. After dinner I am able to spend time with Jillian and we are able to do any errands we have, without being rushed. Next, we are able to have a relaxing evening that even includes some TV time with some tea (after my major priorities are already complete) and finally some guitar practice before bed.
By prioritizing fitness, we are able to not only become more productive but also increase our spare time without negatively effecting our productivity.
#2 – Turn off or hide your phone
This one should be obvious to everyone, but I am sure it is one of worst distractions for most people. Distractions are going to ruin your productivity and it all starts with your phone.
Even if you don’t actually pick up your phone but you see the lights flashing or hear the vibration, it will break your concentration. To stay productive, turn off or hide your phone while you work. You could do this for 15 minutes at a time, 30 minutes at a time or an hour at a time. Whatever works for you.
For me, I work best with my phone hidden for 1 hour. This provides me enough time to start working, get on a roll and stay focused and eventually wrap up any idea I had at the time. After that hour I will look at my phone for a mental break and than repeat the process!
#3 – Tidy/Organize your work space
Getting organized will skyrocket your productivity.
There are 2 Licensed Architects in my office who are the big bosses. They are both wonderful people who have been friends for many years. However, when it comes to work they are complete opposites.
If you went into either of their offices, the first thing you would think is “how do they find anything in this mess!”, which is exactly what my first thought was. But after working with them I realized one key difference.
Boss #1 is organized
Boss #2 is disorganized
At first glance Boss #1 appears to have the much messier office. But if you ask him to see a specific project or document, he will turn around and lift up a pile of papers to grab the sheet and hand it to you in less than 30 seconds.
Boss #2 has an office that looks messy but nearly to the scale of the other office. unfortunately, when you ask him for a specific project or document, he will have absolutely no chance of finding it. After telling you he will bring the papers to you in the next 15 minutes, he will eventually just go into his computer files to reprint the document after giving up the search.
What took the organized boss less than a minute of his time, took the other boss close to half an hour to solve.
Not only does being disorganized ruin your productivity, it also effects everyone you work with.
#4 – Be systematic
You don’t have to be a drill sergeant to be systematic. Creating a system to follow will make you much more effective and efficient.
Do you have any systematic structure in your life? When we don’t have any structure or system to follow, we are liable to miss our car payment, show up late for class, get surprised when we realize an assignments due tomorrow or end up scrambling to finish a work project.
Make a system that allows you maximize your productivity. If you don’t know where to start, try to sit down every Sunday evening and plan out your week. Once you get good at that, try planning your day the night before.
#5 – Chunking activities to reduce wasted time
As an Architectural Technologist, I have an assortment of responsibilities on a daily basis. They could be anything from design work, construction drawings, emails, product review and etc.
If I start my day by sitting down and just picking up what’s on the top of the pile and starting with that, it is likely that I will soon feel overwhelmed. Or perhaps you are one of the many people who believe multi-tasking in the best option…Hint: it’s not!
The reality is that multi-tasking and attempting to tackle everything at once is not the correct choice. To be the most productive you need to start chunking activities.
9:00 – 10:30 = Work on critical drawings that requires focus and time.
10:30 – 11:00 = Check emails and flag any that require action.
11:00 – 11:30 = Answer any emails that require immediate attention.
11:30 – 12:30 = Paper work.
12:30 – 1:30 = Lunch Break
1:30 – 4:00 = Work on drawings and review product submittals.
4:00 – 5:00 = Check emails and address any emails that require action.
Chunking is a simple way to increase productivity. The easiest way to do it is to schedule your day into “chunks”. In my example day above, you can see that I start my morning with 1.5 hours of focused work on my most critical task.
Once I have finished my “focus hour”, I move on to my emails to see if there is anything important I need to address. During this half an hour I won’t actually answer any emails. I simple flag the ones that require a response and put all my emails into their project folders.
Now that I have identified exactly what emails require a response and which ones don’t, I give myself a total of 1.5 hours to answer all emails. If I finish early, great! But if I don’t finish everything, I stop and move on to paper work. I’ve still designated an hour at the end of the day to catch up on any missed emails.
By scheduling my day into chunks like that, I am able to focus completely on each task without accidentally letting another task slide.
Note: That being said, there is a time and place for multi-tasking. For example; if you have an hour commute to work or school, it would be a great time to multi-task. While you commute you can listen to an educational podcast or audiobook to learn
#6 – Be active in making daily decisions.
We often don’t realize how many decisions we make, by not making a decision. While reading The Compounding Effect by Darren Hardy, I learned something that I thought was very impactful.
Not making a decision, is making a decision.
In the words of Darren Hardy, “Everything in your life exists because you first made a choice about something. Choices are at the root of every one of your results.”
By not deciding on a healthy meal plan, you are deciding to eat unhealthily. by not deciding to go to the gym, you are choosing to be lazy. By not deciding whether to apply for college or not this year, you are choosing not to go to college.
By not making the decision to take initiative in your life with any activity, you are deciding not to progress.
This seems like an easy concept; however, we often don’t even recognize when we are doing it!
So why are you telling me this James? That has nothing to do with productivity!
In my opinion, productivity is a skill. It is something you need to work on actively to get better and more effective.
- By actively choosing to go to the gym in the morning, you increase the time available for productivity.
- By actively choosing to turn your phone off rather than tossing it to the side, you eliminate distraction.
- By actively keeping your work space tidy, you eliminate wasted time due to clutter and cleaning.
- By actively making the decision to sit down with a pen and paper to plan your week, you increase your productivity.
- By actively choosing to chunk your daily activities, you ensure that the proper attention and time is put towards each and every task.
- By actively making daily decisions you will slowly become more efficient and effective with your work.
What productivity hack would you choose to be #7?