Are you looking for ways to be more productive? You’re not alone. Pretty much anyone who has a goal finds productivity to be a challenge. Finishing a project, starting a business, making more money, writing a novel, getting in shape, having more time for your family all require you to make constructive use of your waking hours.
Even writer Victor Hugo had to trick himself into writing his great novels Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by asking his butler to hide his clothes so he couldn’t leave the house and was forced to stay home and write.
While this may not be an option for most of us (since we don’t have butlers and all!), there are ways in which we can enhance our productivity without resorting to such extremes.
Here are my top five favorite productivity hacks:
1) Organize your workspace
A messy office can help stimulate creativity. That’s because it gives you an ample palette to gaze upon for inspiration. But when you want to focus on something, the mess can actually be a distraction. Stow away your books and magazines, photos, mail and other things that will take your attention away from the task at hand.
A clean, diversion-free environment is the right setting for serious concentration and you will have feelings of accomplishment and will be ready to take on the
2) Don’t rely on marathon sessions
While you may head into work thinking you’re going to knock out eight hours of nonstop productivity, the truth is you’re probably not. And that’s not because you’re lazy or unmotivated. It’s because your brain, body, and eyesight need periodic rest in order to function well.
Even competitive environments like MIT teach their students the importance of breaks. Try the 52:17 productivity model. Work for 52 minutes, then take a 17-minute break. Repeat. This is similar to the Pomodoro Technique which I wrote about in an earlier blog post. Note: the break has to be taken away from your desk. Get up, go for a walk, talk to a colleague, but stay away from your desk for the duration of your break.
Okay, so you’ve accepted that you’re not going to muscle through eight hours of high productivity every day. But that doesn’t mean that you should just throw in the towel. Instead, you should learn to work smarter, not longer, by prioritizing important tasks.
The 80/20 rule is a popular productivity theory that says by focusing your efforts on the right tasks, you’ll have better outcome and rewards. Working in just 90 minutes (or 3 Pomodoros) of focused productivity every day can result in incredible progress. In fact, it can generate a lot more than slogging through an unfocused eight hours.
We live in the age of communication. Our smartphones have brought phone calls, texts, emails and social media to our pockets. Today, Americans spend an average of 3 hours a day on their mobiles, excluding phone calls. When you think about it, that’s a pretty big chunk of our waking hours.
So, with all this constant distraction, how do you keep your focus and get things done? Simple. Turn off your phone. Stop opening your Facebook page on your computer. If you can’t be trusted to avoid the temptation, enlist the help of a productivity software like RescueTime or Stayfocusd that tracks your online habits and blocks distracting sites for you so you can get to work.
5) Take care of your health
You can put all the productivity advice in the world into practice, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re still not going to be able to reach your potential. If the backdrop of your life is a total mess, then you can’t expect your work life to be at its peak.
Give these tips a try and see your productivity levels rise: keep a tidy workspace, focus, prioritize tasks, unplug, and take care of your health.
Question: Let us know what else works for you in the comments section. What is your best productivity tip? You can leave a comment by clicking here.