It goes without saying that procrastination and dips in productivity go hand in hand. And though wavering work rates are perhaps more common than we'd care to admit, in today's remote-focused climate, there's a chance that your output may have taken a nosedive lately. Distractions and disturbances may be more frequent now that many of us are working from home, with family and flatmates being more present during the working day than ever before. But that doesn't mean our productivity should be affected any more than if we were all back in the office.
When we're at our best, we know how to make the best use of our time. The minutes don't matter, and looming deadlines are seemingly never an issue. But if you've been struggling to get through your daily to-do list lately, then we've got you covered with this list of productivity-boosting hacks and secrets that you can use to channel your greatest assets and abilities into one thing: getting work done. You may find some of these more useful than others, the trick is finding the hacks that work for you and incorporating them into your working day when you feel they're applicable.
1. Eat a proper breakfast
Start your day with a nutritious breakfast that'll leave you feeling energised and ready for the day ahead. Ignore the words of "skip breakfast" - an empty stomach will only have you making regular trips to the fridge throughout the day.
2. Sit on a comfortable chair
Months of working while sat on dining room chairs or slumped on sofas have probably wreaked havoc on your back, neck and shoulders. The discomfort this can cause can negatively impact you and your work, so it's well worth investing in an ergonomic chair designed to be sat on for long hours. You'll thank us later!
3. Prioritise your tasks every day
Make a list of all the tasks you have to do throughout the day. Once you've written up everything, categorise them into the following:
4. Start the day with the dull tasks
While the thought of starting your day off doing tasks that you dislike doesn't exactly inspire motivation, getting them out of the way first thing leaves you with the rest of the day to do the things you do like doing. Rip off the plaster and get the tasks you’d usually avoid out of the way.
5. Use the Pomodoro technique
A tried-and-true method of boosting productivity, many business owners swear by the Pomodoro technique ever since it was introduced in the 1980s.
By breaking tasks into chunks of time, the technique works as follows:
6. Use tools and extensions to block out distractions
The internet is a never-ending rabbit hole of websites, funny videos, news, gossip and memes that seem to have been put there to destroy your productivity. Avoid the constant distractions of the web by using tools and extensions like Cold Turkey and StayFocusd. These tools help you to block the things taking you away from your work by applying tailored settings to your computer.
7. Learn to say no
It's tempting to try and please everyone at work, but if colleagues ask you to do things for them, it can throw you off your personal goals and existing deadlines. If you don't have the capacity –to commit to additional work, then find an appropriate way to say no.
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8. Avoid eating big meals during the day
If you started your day with that nutritious breakfast, there's less chance of you gorging on a huge meal at lunchtime, which can leave you feeling lethargic and tired. Go for something lighter to power you through the rest of the day instead.
9. Automate and delegate what you don't need to do
Too many business leaders spend too much time doing tasks they don't need to do. See what tasks can be automated by systems and tools and delegating other duties to those on your team. Even if you do these jobs productively yourself, that time could be better spent doing things that only you can handle.
There are a huge range of tasks you can delegate out to junior members of the team, and a few which can even be automated. Here are just a few of the most common:
10. Use the "only touch once" rule
Instead of adding to your to-do list upon receiving a new task, immediately action the new request (providing it's small) and complete there and then. Filing away a task to do later results in you losing time managing work queues as well as switching to another work "context". And don't forget, upon receiving a new request assess whether it’s appropriate for you to accept it. If not, don’t be afraid to have an honest conversation with your colleague and explain that it’s not something you can take on right now.
11. Always finish at least one task a day
Morale plays a large part in our productivity, so every day you should endeavour to finish a task, no matter how small. Leaving things unfinished could cause you to feel like you haven't accomplished anything at the end of the day – and it may cause you to start the next day on the wrong foot too.
12. Group similar tasks into chunks
Looking to really dust off the to-do list? Group any similar tasks into small chunks and box them off in one go. If you've several calls to make, then sort them one after the other, or if there's a batch of emails that need answering, get them done in succession. This is a simple but effective way to manage your daily tasks.
13. Use the "two minute" rule
Is something going to take two minutes or less to complete? You might as well get it out of the way now, instead of leaving it unfinished for later on (when you may have forgotten about it). Take this into consideration when creating your to-do list for the day and get those quicker tasks off your lists nice and early.
14. Schedule in a time to check your emails
Repeatedly checking and replying to your emails as they come in is not only tiresome, but it's counterproductive too. When you get distracted by the notification of a fresh email, it takes you out of the rhythm you were working in. Upon replying to the email, you have to get back into that flow once more - until the next email comes in and the process repeats.
Instead, designate a time during the day to check and answer your emails rather than trying to do so alongside your other tasks.
15. Finish the day email-free
Starting the following day with unanswered emails from the previous day can make some people feel unreasonably anxious before they've even logged on. It's much more preferable to finish your day with an inbox that's as empty as you can get it. To do this, try to schedule some time at the end of each day to clear out any emails you no longer need.
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