Productivity hacks to help you do more effective work
When it comes to doing effective work (effective work being work that will cumulate into our desired goal/s) the understanding that every individual on the planet has the same 24 hours in the day, & we all have the ability to complete substantial & meaningful amounts of effective work every day is something that we like to ignore; learning how to stay on task, & make the most out of your minutes, is going to be crucial, to achieving the most we can in the long term.
There are many researched methods for improving productivity, including the use of timed breaks (1), improving health markers (2), improved time management (3) (no duh) & weight loss (4); & whilst all of these are very valuable, & I believe that productivity & quality of life are a loop, the more productive you are, the more your quality of life goes up; & if you can improve the quality of your life, productivity closely follows, but, I am not going to focus too closely on these, I’m going to include 5 ‘hacks’ (I know right) that have helped me (the king of procrastination) improve my productivity & get more work done every day.
Note: This is not a paid article, & we are not affiliated with any products or applications mentioned here in.
1. Plan your daily tasks out in advance
This has been one of the biggest linchpins for me when it comes to getting lots of work done, whilst minimising time wasted flicking through social medias, & breaking work to do unnecessary tasks at that time, like emails, texts etc. I have found that if I plan my day out, either the night before or day of, having a visible list of goals for each day, makes me want to get it done, & I won’t ever let a list beat me.
I really love a good diary/planner for this, somewhere you can split tasks up, see weekly tasks, have a space to jot down ideas or notes & put some plans in for the following week, in comes my favourite planner by Klarheit (link - https://goo.gl/AynWjN ), their planner has a huge section to start on goal setting, your values etc., & from there, each month has goal setting tasks, along with weekly & daily tasks; it’s pretty action packed with every feature you could ever want!
You can plan your days out into tasks for specific goals, you can have a 1, 2 & 3 goal for work, family, hobbies, sport, free time or whatever you want, make sure you plan in time to do something you enjoy, as this is something that allows us to continue to do hard work, whilst enjoying the things we love (the real secret is loving what you do!). I always programme in time to read, meditate & go for a walk. Knowing what you will do next as you finish a task, allows you to seamlessly move through your day crushing goal after goal.
2. Use short breaks programmed in to keep you from losing focus
Using short but frequent breaks is a way to keep a task from getting overwhelming; I think of it like your brain being a machine, that heats up over time as it’s used, & if you don’t break from work every now & again, your brain over heats & doesn’t function properly at all, & the process to cool it down again takes significantly longer than any small break.
So using small breaks, frequently, allows you to stay in the game longer & prevent this mental ‘overheating’. I like the Pomodoro technique (more here - https://goo.gl/3v37tK ) which utilises periods of 20-25 minutes of constant, uninterrupted work, broken up by 5-10 minute breaks (each cycle is 30 minutes), once you complete 4 of these cycles, you have an extended 20-30-minute break & then repeat if necessary.
With the Pomodoro technique, the keys are to make sure that your 20-25 minute periods really are uninterrupted, & you go into them with a clear goal of what you are doing, whether it be revision, work, a physical task etc., then the second key is to give yourself the break no matter what, to stay ahead of that ‘overheating’ effect of trying to do too much at once, you should also look to get yourself away from your working environment during your breaks away from work, get up & go for a walk, do a little stretching, get some fresh air, basically anything that isn’t technology related or work related.
A tip with this technique, get a timer that you can’t check every 2 minutes, & make sure it is out of sight, & that the only way you will know when to change phases is by an alarm tone, vibration etc. as I have found myself in the past clock watching, causing the same sorts of problems I was trying to solve in the first place. I think if you can utilise the Pomodoro technique in to most of your tasks, you will be surprised how much more you get done in these short periods, & how these periods cumulate over time (I have used a Pomodoro style diary before, that allows you to set goals for Pomodoro periods per goal/per day, link is here - https://goo.gl/6vyucs ) for those interested in trying it out.
3. Get your mobile device out of your hands
This is an obvious one, everybody knows how easy it is to want to check your notifications, browse social media, send a text or any other plethora of activities you can do on smart phones now a days. The act of doing this in itself, can be a waste of your valuable time, but another issue is in the blunting effect it has on your flow, that state you get into when you start a new task & get your teeth right into it; if you break that flow, I promise it isn’t coming straight back any time soon, I have experienced it many times.
With the biggest killer to productivity (for me at least in the past) being the constant want to check my phone, I recommend a few different options:
1. Use the ‘forest’ app (this thing is genius) for apple & android devices (there is even a safari extension for mac); the app basically allows you to set an amount of time you want to not use your device for, then, once the timer starts, you see an image of a seed in the ground, & as you stay on the app (& don’t end up on Instagram or Twitter) the tree grows slowly, until it is full sized as the time finishes; if you end up going off the application & using your phone to browse the web for example, your tree starts to die, & it puts a ‘black mark’ on your record, as you have a literal weekly field of trees, that matches your time away from using your device, the more time away, the more trees (link is here - https://goo.gl/8VTZDL ).
2. This is a little longer of a process, & probably suited to longer periods of being way from your phone, but I have in the past, deleted all of my social media applications, so that I can’t be tempted to nip onto them. This actually worked really well for me, but some people may really not enjoy the hassle of re-installing afterwards. I recommend this for the individual that REALLLY struggles to stay off their devices whilst working, it may just cure those cravings for you & help you maintain that flow state for longer.
3. Put your device in another room way out of reach of your tempting mind; this is the intermediate option between the two already given, the statement “out of sight, out of mind” is tossed around in reference to trigger foods often, but it has been very pertinent to in the past for me when it came to keeping myself from being tempted, & this is always a sure fire way to keep me off of my device in times that I shouldn’t really be dabbling on it, & should be doing effective work.
4 . Commit to starting your task
Now this one’s a doozy, the amount of time previously I’ve spent putting off a task, because the sheer thought of starting it scared me, or it made the task seem daunting, & as I came to realise, that one of the most productive things you can do, is to commit to starting something, I got more done in a day than I had previously in multiple days; when you learn to do this, I promise the rest is going to be much easier than you think.
A way I like to do this, is to set myself TINY goals for each task, I might write in my planner ‘do 10 minutes work on x task’, giving myself tiny drabs of work to achieve at a time. I have found that when you plan such small amounts of time doing a task, it shrinks the perceived enormity of the task, & more than likely causes you to do way more than the amount you have set to do anyway, & if you don’t, then you move on to the next task, in the knowledge you have still completed your goal.
Achieving a small goal is going to have a much stronger rolling impact on your day/s than failing a goal you’ve set that was too large for you to comprehend; please try this one, you will not regret it.
5. Don’t try to do it all in a day
I have been as bad as anyone when it comes to this, I get a goal in my head, & I want to do everything in my power (& more) to get it done, but setting yourself so much to do that you simply never achieve it, can be demoralising, & can just set you up to fail again & again.
This one is super simple, & it is basically like progressive overload when it comes to improving any physical quality, you want to start with the minimum amount that will allow you to be working towards your goal, & increase the amount as your capacity increases.
This can be as simple as setting 10 minutes a side each morning to work on your personal goals, that’s it, that’s all you would have to start with, because that 10 minutes accumulates over time. As you achieve this small goal, your wanting to do more will increase, your capacity to concentrate, your capacity to produce & your capacity to achieve will all increase, & these 10 minute intervals, will turn to 30 minutes, to an hour, to multiple hours, it’s just a matter of time & understanding.
So as unproductive as setting yourself smaller work goals seems, it can produce massive dividends in the long run; for the present, do what you can to your best abilities.
I hope this article was useful to you, & you can put some of these techniques into practice straight way, to have a more productive life, whether it be work, relationships, hobbies or anything else; what we do love is your feedback, so any feedback can be sent to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message over on Instagram @myonomics.
I wanted to thank those that signed up to our now full 8 week mini cut programme, these guys are already seeing results & the end result is going to be something exciting; I wanted to let everyone know that we do still have 5 slots left for our monthly coaching, costing just £80 a month, for all your needs when it comes to achieving your best body, so to enquire either email us at the address above or visit www.myo-nomics.com/complete-coaching to apply online.
Aaron @ Myonomics
(1) Dababneh, A., Swanson, N. and Shell, R. (2001). Impact of added rest breaks on the productivity and well being of workers. Ergonomics, 44(2), pp.164-174.
(2) Mitchell, R., Ozminkowski, R. and Serxner, S. (2013). Improving Employee Productivity Through Improved Health. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 55(10), pp.1142-1148.
(3) Arnold, E. and Pulich, M. (2004). Improving Productivity Through More Effective Time Management. The Health Care Manager, 23(1), pp.65-70.
(4) Bilger, Marcel et al. “The Effect of Weight Loss on Health, Productivity and Medical Expenditures among Overweight Employees.” Medical care 51.6 (2013): 471–477. PMC. Web. 15 Jan. 2018.