Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Month! May is the perfect time to prioritize mental well-being, especially in today's remote work environment
8 Ways to be More Productive
While there is no silver bullet, here are 8 hacks that you can utilize to increase your productivity significantly.
We live in the digital age, which is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, we can instantly connect with people, drop in on their lives, and access anything at a moment’s notice. This is dandy, but also hugely distracting and time-consuming. “With great power comes great responsibility,” says the guy prancing around in a red leotard.
It’s more important than ever to shut off, block notifications, and create space for thinking and output. While there is no silver bullet, here are 8 hacks that you can utilize to increase your productivity significantly.
Here are 8 ways to be more productive. It’s time to make some small changes to your routine to amp up.
1. Close your email
In many ways, it’s fascinating that email still exists today after 50 years in existence. Even more interesting is that as humans we tend to check email first thing in the morning, leave it open all day long, and look at it before bed. Want to kill your productivity? Keep logging into your email.
As a general rule, do not check your email before 10am. Don’t look at it on your phone when you wake up, don’t open it when you get to the office, and don’t start responding to people until you’ve had a few hours of focused work.
Start resisting the temptation to spend countless hours in your email application.
SUMMARY: Check your email 2x daily and that’s it. Once later in the morning or before lunch and once later in the day before you sign off.
2. Tough tasks come first
It’s easy to start your day by tackling some lowkey things first. But you’re at peak performance and productivity earlier in the day. So…eat a good breakfast and start tackling the tough tasks first thing. Do this before you check email—which will distract your brain and consume precious hours—when you feel most energetic.
SUMMARY: Exercise early, eat a solid breakfast, skip checking your email, and get right to work on the day’s important tasks.
3. Write it down
Want to clear your head? Get things off your mind? You need to write it down. There’s been lots of studies that validate this, such as this one.
In addition to being faster and more accurate, the fMRI neuroimaging data from this “paper notebooks vs. mobile devices” study suggest that the act of physically writing things down on paper is associated with more robust brain activation in multiple areas and better memory recall.Paper Notebooks vs. Mobile Devices: Brain Activation Differences During Memory Retrieval
Writing takes you away from the screen. It forces you to think rather than just stare. It’s best for memory recall and brain function. Plus, once you write something down and ruminate on it, you can manifest it into reality. Use that growth mindset now.
SUMMARY: Cancel the tweet. Write instead. Lists, goals, ideas, commentary, and anything else. I highly recommend the Bullet Journal.
4. Stop trying to multitask
Notice I said “trying.” Here’s the thing, even if you think you’re multitasking, you’re not. We’re not wired that way. We can’t do 5 things at once. Multiple studies have shown that multitasking—essentially, doing more than one task at the same time—is a myth. You may think you can split your attention between multiple tasks, but you aren’t getting more done. In actuality, you do less, have more stress, and perform worse than those who work on a single task.
SUMMARY: Close open apps on your computer and focus on one thing at a time. When you’re on a Zoom call, don’t write an email at the same time. Stay focused on the task at hand and watch your productivity skyrocket.
5. Turn off notifications
Constant notifications have been proven to cause increased stress and pressure to react or respond instantly. Not only is this highly distracting, but it’s also incredibly rough on your psyche. There’s data that suggests turning off notifications has a positive effect even years later. But for purposes of staying productive, being nagged or harassed all day long can sap your energy and capacity. Plus, it likely is damping your mood.
SUMMARY: Turn on DND, focus on a single task, and be amazed at how good you really are.
6. Move around
We’re not built to sit. In the movie A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise is moving around the room when he says, “I need my bat… I think better with my bat. Where’s my bat?” Well, guess what, a study found too much sitting can affect the brain. People who did high levels of sitting had less thickness in the medial temporal lobe.
What about standing? Better.
But there’s no substitute for moving. A study by April Chambers on the effects of sit-stand desks showed improvement in behavior with standing, but more importantly Chambers noted that what’s best for the body is not to sit or stand, but to move. Just the act of getting up and down burns more calories than sitting or standing.
SUMMARY: Change your scenery. Move around when you’re on the phone. Sit, then stand. Keep the body moving and your mind will thrive.
7. Prioritize, then delete or delegate
We all have endless things to do. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Paralysis by analysis, as they say. Thus it’s more important than ever to prioritize your tasks. The benefits of prioritization include reducing stress, increasing productivity, gaining back time, avoiding distractions, and focusing on the most important work.
But I suggest you take it a step further. After you prioritize, scan your list of tasks and either delete them entirely or delegate them to someone else. Let’s face it—the whole list probably won’t get done and some of your tasks just aren’t significant enough. So, delete those. You’re not going to do them today, tomorrow, or the next day.
Next, see what you can delegate or assign to someone else. After that, you’ll be left with a solid list of things you actually care about, that need to get done, in order of importance.
SUMMARY: Don’t be afraid to say no. Delete tasks that you won’t ever do. Assign some things to others. Prioritize to establish importance. If you want to dive deeper, check out the GTD method.
8. Do something else
Take a break. Go outside. Call your mom. Do a shot of tequila. Shotgun a beer. Slam some Liquid Death. Do something besides what you’re currently focused on.
There are countless benefits to giving your brain a break. Physically, it’s good to move. Mentally, breaks will help restore your motivation. Working for long periods of time without any breaks can seriously drain your energy and motivation. So, walk away, clear your mind, and come back later refreshed. It’s like cutting off split ends—your hair will grow faster and be healthier. Same with your mind.
There you have it. 8 productivity hacks you can implement today. It may take a little adjustment and some of these (like not checking email as much) might be a little more difficult to crack, but stick with it, get a better each day, and feel more productive. You’ll end your day with a feeling of accomplishment and you’ll have more energy in your personal life.