We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but it seems like some people just get so much more done than others. If you're struggling to get everything on your to-do list accomplished, you're not alone.
There are a number of reasons why people have trouble getting work done. Maybe you're constantly interrupted by colleagues or notifications. Maybe you have difficulty focusing, or you just don't know how to manage your time well.
Whatever the reason, there's no need to feel down about it. Luckily, there are a few simple strategies you can use to be more productive and get more work done in less time.
Keep reading to learn seven of our favorite productivity hacks
1. Make a list of everything you need to get done in the next week.
This may seem obvious and you might be tempted to breeze past this one but before doing so, take a moment to think about everything you need to accomplish both at work and in your personal life in the next seven days. This includes big projects, small tasks, deadlines, and appointments.
You can use tools like Google Calendar, Monday.com or Asana to stay organized, or you can simply write everything down in a notebook. Once you have your list, you can start to prioritize what needs to be done when. Be realistic with your timeline and try to give yourself some buffer time in case something comes up. If you're new to time management, it can be helpful to estimate how long each task will take and then add an extra 30 minutes to be safe. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed later on.
Then, as you complete each task, cross it off your list. There's nothing quite as satisfying as knowing that you've accomplished what you set out to do! 2. Set aside some time each day for deep work.
In a world where we're constantly bombarded with distractions, it can be difficult to get into a flow state and really focus on one task. But if you want to get more work done in less time, it's important to set aside some time each day for deep work.
This means turn off all distractions (including your phone), close all tabs except for the one you're working on, and really focus. You might only be able to do this for 30 minutes at first, but with practice, you'll be able to increase your deep work sessions. Speaking of flow state and deep work... What if you could find a way to consistently achieve a state of peak performance, where you were hyper-focused and able to accomplish far more than you ever thought possible?
The flow state is just that – a state of peak performance where we are able to tap into our full potential and achieve amazing things. This eBook will teach you everything you need to know about flow state and how you can achieve it on a regular basis. If you're ready to achieve massive productivity gains, happiness, and success in every area of your life, then this book is for you. 3. Set yourself a daily task goal and make it realistic.
If you want to get more work done, it's important to set realistic goals for yourself. Rather than trying to accomplish 10 different things in one day, focus on completing just one task. This may seem daunting at first, but it's actually much easier to achieve one thing than it is to achieve several.
An example of this would be if you know that completing five large projects in one day would be unrealistic, so don't make that your goal. Start with two or three tasks instead. Once those are done, you can always add more if you have time remaining in your day. And on days when you don't think you'll be able to hit your goal, lower it accordingly. Not only will this help you to be more productive, but it will also help to give you a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.
4. Set a time limit for each task.
If you find that you're spending too much time on one task, try setting a time limit for yourself. For example, if you know that it normally takes you two hours to write a report, give yourself just one hour to do it instead. This will force you to focus and get the task done more quickly. You might be surprised at how much you can get done in a shorter amount of time when you're forced to focus. And if you find that the task really does take longer than your time limit, you can always come back to it later.
According to a study by Westbrook and Braver, your brain releases dopamine when you complete tasks. And since dopamine improves attention, memory, and motivation, even achieving a small task can result in a positive feedback loop that makes you more motivated to work harder going forward. By completing small tasks, you can raise your motivation level and train your brain to be more productive overall.
5. Create a regular schedule for yourself and stick to it as much as possible.
One of the best ways to be productive is to establish a regular schedule for yourself and then stick to it as much as possible. This doesn't mean that you have to do the same thing at the same time every day, but it does mean that you should try to maintain some semblance of consistency. For example, if you know that you're usually most productive in the mornings, try to schedule your most important tasks for that time period. And if you have trouble focusing at night, don't schedule anything important for that time.
When you know what time each task should be completed, it's easier to stay focused and resist procrastination. The key is to find what works best for you and then stick to it as much as possible. By doing this, you'll train your brain to be more productive at the times when you need it most.
6. Take regular breaks throughout the day.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it's important to take breaks if you want to be productive. When you work for long periods of time without a break, your brain becomes fatigued and it's harder to focus. We end up feeling burnt out and our work suffers as a result. So instead of working straight through the day, try setting a timer for 50 minutes and then taking a 10 minute break after that. Once your break is over, start the timer again and repeat the process until all of your tasks are done for the day.
You can use your break time to do something that relaxes you, like reading or taking a walk. And by taking breaks, you'll actually end up being more productive overall.
7. Eliminate distractions and create a focused environment.
In order to be productive, it's important to eliminate distractions and create a focused environment. This means turning off your phone, closing any tabs that you're not using, and putting away anything that might distract you.
Worried about getting sidetracked by social media or other online distractions? There are plenty of browser extensions and apps that can help curb wasted time online. One of our favorites is SelfControl for Mac users or StayFocusd for those using Chrome browsers—both block access to specific websites for a set period of time so that you can stay focused on what's really important: getting your work done! If you work better with background noise, try using a white noise app for work like Brain.fm or listening to calm music to drown out any potential distractions.
Find what works best for you and then stick to it as much as possible. By doing this, you'll train your brain to be more productive at the times when you need it most.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution for increasing productivity, but these seven strategies can help you get more work done in less time. You will also feel less stressed and more accomplished at the end of each day.
Try implementing one or two of these tips into your daily routine and see how it goes. Then adjust as necessary until you find a system that works best for you. And remember, the most important thing is to just get started! For a deeper dive into proven time management techniques to position you for success in your career and life, check out our article, "13 Time Management Techniques For Busy Professionals: How to Simplify and Get More Done". Let's Hear From You! Do you have any favorite productivity hacks? Share them with us in the comments below!
Becky Vinton - talent strategist with over 20 years' experience improving the effectiveness of organizations and enhancing employee experience as a global human resources leader and business consultant. She holds an MBA Degree and several certifications including Human Capital Strategist by the Human Capital Institute.