Whenever we talk about “hustle,” we think about having to accomplish more over a shorter period of time. Once I took my side hustle to a full-time gig, I thought I’d have more time to accomplish my goals, however, time was never the issue. I quickly learned that in order to be productive, I had to adopt the mantra of “less is more.”
“Truly productive people aren’t focused on doing more things; this is actually the opposite of productivity. If you really want to be productive, you’ve got to make a point to do fewer things.”
We all have the same amount of hours in the day to get things done. The difference between those who are productive and unproductive is defined by the way we prioritize, plan and execute.
If you’re looking to increase your productivity, be sure to be mindful of your habits, space and time (hence each hack is associated with habit, space or time). Here are 10 fool-proof productivity hacks to get you and your business soaring for success!
1.Plan and Prioritize the Day Before
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
My mornings used to be spent with a cup of coffee, breakfast and 30-60 minutes focused on my to-do list… whoops.
The first hour of your workday is the most critical. It sets the tone for what the rest of your day will look like. By planning the night before, you alleviate time spent on organization and allow yourself to jump right into the task as soon as you start our day.
TIP: Keep a journal or an agenda to write down your tasks on a daily basis. By keeping everything in one place, you can easily prioritize what needs to be done the next day.
2. Boost Your Energy & Get Creative
It’s very easy to get stuck in the “grind”. Schedule at least 1 hour in the day where you can do something for yourself – this will boost your energy and get your mind off of work – it’s a win-win!
3. Focus on the Process
Process improvements are not just for project managers! Your habits are the process that will help you achieve your goals. Focus on 1-3 habits that you’d like to improve for the next 30 days. Training your body and mind for 30 days will help you to increase your focus and create a stronger sense of self-awareness and alignment with your goals.
Example: Publishing 5 articles a month is a goal, but writing 500-1000 words a day is a process. Breaking down the goal into a process will be more sustainable over time in helping you achieve your big to-dos.
4. Review, Review, Review
While we think we may have a handle on everything, we can never be too sure about what the week has in store!
TIP: Keep a running list of all of your tasks for the week and review it each night before completing your daily to-do list. This habit will allow you to re-prioritize your most important tasks for the week while keeping abreast of all of the new things that require your attention.
“Arrange your personal space to support the way you work and live.” – Jeff Davidson
5. Maximize Your Workspace for Efficiency
Your workplace should be a reflection of you. Feeling like yourself in a workspace reduces your anxiety. I always ensure that I have bright colours, enough light and calming music on in the background.
TIP: Make it comfortable by ensuring that you have all of your essentials close by – healthy snacks, something to drink and good lighting – these three things can boost your productivity tremendously.
6. Reduce Distractions
Distractions are tough. Our brain wants to multitask but we’re actually wired best to focus on one thing at a time.
TIP: Turn off your notifications, put your phone on “do not disturb” and remove it from your sight. The sheer thought of having the phone by your side actually increases our brain’s desire to look at it. You can also remove distractions by putting on headphones – this helps to increase your focus and decrease the amount of external interruptions (you don’t even need to listen to anything), the simple act of having them on can increase your focus.
7. Keep Your Calendar or To-Do List Nearby
While running through my tasks, I like to have a digital and analog version by my side to keep me accountable.
TIP: Use Google Calendar and a Chrome extension called New Tab Draft. The calendar sends you notifications to remind you of what’s coming up and the “New Tab Draft” reduces your distractions – it also gives you an opportunity to review your to-do list and jot down any new thoughts or ideas on a new tab.
“One must work with time and not against it.” – Ursula K. Le Guin
8. Utilize the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is an age-old productivity hack developed by Franceso Cirillo in the late 1980s. 25 minutes is allocated to work on a task before taking a short break and commencing the process again. Each interval is known as a “pomodoro,” from the italian word “tomato”.
The shorter period of time allows you to focus and get into a state of flow. You can track how many pomodoros it took you to complete a task before moving onto the next one. You may also use this process to break large tasks into bite-sized pieces. If you adopt this technique, you will decrease distractions and increase your focus.
9. Start Time Blocking
Time blocking is a good way to prioritize a variety of tasks.
TIP: Block 1-2 hours to focus on your most important task first – this will ensure that you lead with a powerful morning. It’s also good to block times for remedial tasks such as phone calls i.e. block one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon to get through all of your meetings/calls to reduce scattered calls throughout the day.
10. Take Effective Breaks
Many of us spend a lot of time powering through a task without taking a break. In my experience, this resulted in increased anxiety, eye-strain and eventually led to burnout.
TIP: Spend at least 15-30 minutes doing something other than work – go for a walk, talk to a friend or colleague, rehydrate or get a snack. Breaks are essential, make sure you prioritize them just as highly as the tasks on your to-do list.
You’ll find that being productive isn’t all about having the right tools, it’s a state a mind. In order to maximize your time and efficiency, you need to feel good about where you are and what you’re doing!
It’s also important to note that these hacks can also apply to managing a blog and maintaining consistency.
Next time you’re feeling stuck, be sure to think about what may be bothering you – is it your space, the time, maybe it’s a habit that needs improving? Whatever it may be, just know that you can handle it with a few productivity hacks in your back pocket!
About The Author
Megan Ramwa is the Founder of Sonder Toronto – a local platform focused reducing textile waste and fostering relationships, one closet at a time. Megan is an avid writer and can be found publishing articles on her personal blog and guest writing for others. Prior to her entrepreneurial journey, Megan was a communications professional at a Bay Street law firm.”
Patrick Icasas says
Great article, Megan! It makes a lot of sense, especially the journal part. I’ve recently started a Bullet Journal and it’s made a huge difference.