10 Best Productivity Hacks

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Imagine having the structure and focus to churn through your daily to-do list with ease. No more wasted time or stressing about unfinished tasks! With these simple but powerful productivity boosters, you’ll be unstoppable.

So, let’s not waste another second and just jump straight into it!

1. Get rid of distractions 

Many people have a complicated relationship with notifications. Some people get powerful hits of dopamine every time they hear a ping or a buzz from their device. Other people feel stress and anxiety. 

However you feel about them, most of us are now so affected by our notifications that we don’t even need to have one in order to be distracted! Simply the anticipation of a notification is enough to disrupt our productivity. Did you know that people check their emails around 15 times a day? That equals to every 37 minutes!

If you want to improve productivity, you need to remove these distractions. There are a couple of ways you could do this. 

You could block out specific windows of time throughout the day to check your notifications. For example, first thing in the morning, before lunch, and an hour before your working day ends. 

For the rest of the day you could keep your emails tab (or the site you’re prone to checking) closed, so that you’re not tempted to check it. 

You can also set reminders via a calendar app, such as Google Calendar, to ensure you don’t accidentally forget to check your notifications! 

Google calendar
Google calendar

Another – perhaps stronger – way to eliminate these distractions is to block certain apps and websites on your computer. For example, if you check X every ten minutes then you can temporarily block the site on your computer to avoid the temptation.

A quick and simple way to do this is by installing the free Chrome extension, Stay Focusd. After installing to your browser you simply visit the site you want to block and click “Block this entire site”:

From there, you have ten minutes remaining until the site is blocked:

Stay Focusd notification

When you try to visit your blocked sites you’ll receive this message: 

Stay Focusd notification

This is a great way to manage your time on social media and boost your productivity. It’s easy to unblock your sites later by heading to the Settings tab: 

Stay Focusd settings tab

2. Implement the 2 minute rule 

The two minute rule is simple: 

If a task can be done in 2 minutes, do it immediately. If it’s going to take longer than 2 minutes, schedule it for later

This not only outlines a clear process for how to prioritize your tasks, it also reduces the possibility of wasting time re-reading things. 

For example, if a colleague emails you with a question that you can quickly answer then you should respond immediately. 

Otherwise, you’re probably going to waste more than 2 minutes by re-reading the email later! 

There’s another 2 minute rule that’s worth mentioning here, too. This is the 2 minute rule for building healthy habits. 

The idea is that if you have a task you’re dreading and avoiding, simply commit to doing it for 2 minutes. You’ll probably find yourself doing it for a lot longer, and this can help you to build up a habit. 

3. Create a to-do list 

Whether it’s a paper or electronic to-do list, a to-do list is a great way to remain productive because it allows you to outline everything you want to achieve that day, and it gives you a goal to work towards. 

You can also use the app to assign emails to different team members, and even put your inbox on snooze.

4. Snooze your notifications 

It’s easy to feel an expectation to be constantly available online these days. In fact, roughly 3 in 10 American adults say they are constantly online

This kind of constant availability can be terrible for productivity. Every distraction – no matter how small – can increase your stress and reduce the speed at which you work. A study from the University of California, Irvine found that it takes almost 25 minutes to get back into work after a distraction.

So, if you’re going to snooze your inbox, you might as well snooze all of your other communication tools, too – like Slack, for example.

If your company uses Slack, it’s easy to put your notifications on snooze if you want to get stuck into an important project. Just click on your profile icon and select how long you want to pause your notifications for:

You can also add a status to let your team know why you’re on snooze: 

5. Give yourself the freedom to procrastinate 

It may sound counter-intuitive, but blocking out periods of time to procrastinate could actually cut down the amount of time you waste throughout the day. 

There is a time management technique based around this idea, called the Pomodoro Technique. The method is simple. You work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. 

It’s called the Pomodoro Technique after the tomato-shaped kitchen timers of the same name. The timer is key to this technique as it acts as a reminder to tell you when to stop working and when to start again.

Pomodoro technique graphic

Of course, you don’t need to rush out and buy a physical timer. You can use a site like Pomofocus or Tomato Timer to keep track of your time.

Pomofocus timer

Taking breaks has actually been proven to have a positive impact on productivity. According to a study by the Draugiem Group, the most productive employees don’t work more hours, they simply take more breaks! 

On average, the workers with the highest productivity worked for 52 minutes then took a 17 minute break. 

Work and break lengths

6. Visualize your tasks 

When you’re trying to be more productive, it’s not necessarily about getting up super early so that you have more time in the day, it’s about making the most of the time you have

In other words, every second counts. And when you consider that our brains can process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, it makes sense that by visualizing your tasks you’ll be able to save time and be more productive. 

This is the basis behind the Kanban method – a workflow management strategy, originally used in the manufacturing industry. 

Kanban boards are designed so that you can see all of your tasks at a glance. Tasks are also divided into columns, traditionally labelled “To-do”, “In Progress”, and “Done”. These columns allow you to quickly see where you have bottlenecks, and what you need to prioritizes. 

7. Implement the Eisenhower matrix

Like the Pomodoro Technique, the Eisenhower Matrix is also a time management technique designed to improve productivity. 

The matrix helps you to prioritizes your tasks by splitting them into four categories. Tasks can be:

  • Urgent and important
  • Urgent but not important 
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not urgent and not important

After splitting your tasks between the four categories in the matrix, you’ll have a better idea of what to prioritize, what to schedule, what to delegate, and what to delete:

Eisenhower matrix

8. Listen to productive music

We all know how much our surroundings can impact our productivity. If you’re in a noisy, uncomfortable space, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to concentrate on your work.

But did you know that the right kind of noise can actually boost your productiveness? 

According to Science Daily, Binaural beats – an auditory illusion created by sending different frequencies to the left and right ears – are proven to help people focus by synchronizing brain activity.

Binaural beats aren’t the only sounds that can help you improve your productivity. Apps like Noisli allow you to create a relaxing environment – based on the sounds you enjoy – so you can eradicate distractions and really get stuck into your work. 

Noisli

9. Utilize time-blocking 

At the top of this article we talked about the possibility of blocking out time throughout the day for checking emails. 

Time-blocking is the process of doing this for your whole day. The idea is that you schedule out ALL of your tasks for the day, from the big projects and long meetings, to the short coffee breaks. 

Here’s an example of a time-blocked calendar: 

Time-blocking example

Time-blocking is a great way to increase productivity by minimizing distractions and reducing the mental pressure that comes with constantly trying to multitask. 

As you can see from the above example, color-coding can also help you to manage your tasks for the day with time-blocking. The tasks for this worker are coded as follows:

  • Purple = self-improvement tasks
  • Blue = regular, daily tasks
  • Green = project work
  • Red = buffer time

Expert Tip: Scheduling buffer time throughout the day is a useful way to make sure you’re not overwhelmed. Some tasks may take longer than expected, and unexpected issues can also arise. Adding buffer time to your schedule can help you plan for that. 

10. Go for a walk 

If you’re struggling to get into a task or to solve a problem, sometimes the worst thing you can do is stay chained to your desk.

Getting away from your desk – either for a change of scenery or some fresh air – can help to boost your productivity!

Final thoughts

Productivity can sometimes feel like an elusive state. It may seem as though some people are just born productive and some people are not. 

But that’s not the case. Productivity comes from consistency. It’s continuous hard work, but luckily there are some hacks that can make it easier for you to be more productive. 

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WAMS, Inc.

The experts at WAMS, Inc. all have a background in the legal industry and understand the software and the demands that come along with it. That’s why all our clients receive a dedicated account manager and engineer with specific planning that works for your business needs. We didn’t break into the tech world to pinch pennies from clients. We go into every partnership to help their business scale gracefully. Your company growth is our company growth, always.