I spoke with several people who seem to be able to juggle it all. I dug deep into their best practices and learnt their secrets to success.
Here are 7 productivity hacks everyone should know.
1. No Email Until 10am
What’s the first thing you do when you get into work? Check your email, right?
That’s the worst thing you can possibly do. Checking your email distracts you from the real work that needs to get done. The morning is when you’re at you’re most productive. Don’t waste that energy on emails.
Instead, scan through your emails to make sure there are no urgent issues. Do not reply to any email – unless it’s really urgent.
Once you’ve ensured there are no nuclear disasters to attend to, get to work on the most challenging task of your day. Use your high, early morning, willpower to overcome the biggest challenge of the day. Your motivation will erode as the day wears on – recognize it. Use it to your advantage.
Do your hardest tasks, first.
2. Remove Clutter
Keep your table and desktop well organized. Use folders and stacks to keep everything in place. The cleaner your workspace is, the more in control you’ll feel. This will give you confidence to tackle large, challenging problems you’ll face everyday.
3. Make Lists
At the end of every day, make a list of tasks which need to be completed the next day. Do this exercise just as you’re ending your work day. The process will help to solidify the important tasks and let your subconscious ideate on how to resolve these issues the next morning. Several CEOs use this psychological trick to maximize productivity.
4. Leverage on Technology
Post Its and lists are great, but really, you should be going digital. Use email software like Boomerang to help to remind you to follow up on unanswered emails. Use meeting scheduling software to find the right time to meet your colleagues. Productivity isn’t one single silver bullet, it’s a series of small wins which add up.
5. Don’t Procrastinate
Easier said than done! How does one avoid a disease that’s been plaguing us since our schooling days?
The truth is, you’ve got to be really hard on yourself. Set realistic targets for your daily to do lists and don’t give yourself excuses to miss these targets. When starting out, don’t be afraid to set slightly less ambitious to-do-lists. Start to embrace the process and attack it with religious efficiency. Once you’ve nailed that down, start to push yourself daily with more challenging lists.
6. Schedule Everything
Your calendar is your best friend. Use it to plan everything from a 5 minute sales call to a reminder to schedule that doctor’s appointment. The more your rely on your calendar, the more efficient you’ll be. The great thing about modern calendars is that they sync across all devices, including your iPad at home. Use it to plan both professional and personal events.
7. Don’t Forget To Breathe
Being a productivity monster is great, but don’t forget to schedule blackout days to just chill and rejuvenate. Countless studies have shown that employees who take vacations are more engaged and productivity at work. We’re human after all.
There is no longer work life balance – its just life balance. Use these tools to manage your time and your life, to make it a more fulfilling one.