There are hundreds of productivity tips or new good habits that we all strive for but I find most take too long to implement. If the words "I don't have time to be more efficient" ever rambled through your head then this list if for you.
Here are 13 simple, ingenious and easy-to-implement ideas that will save you time:
- The Rule of 3 - Never have more than 3 tasks/projects/to-do's on your mind at any one time. In fact write the 3 down and ignore the other candidates. When done the 3 then make a list of another 3. I start every day this way.
- Turn off mobile notifications and ringer - The phone is your enemy and social sites have perfected the Pavlovian psychology of notifications. Just turn it off.
- Turn your phone upside down - The twin sister of the above is to simply turn your phone upside down and just out of arms reach. Get stuff done without your phone.
- Use a website blocker - Similar to the phone, an open Facebook tab is yelling for your attention. Use a site blocker and set the time during the day that those focus-crushing sites are allowed in.
- Inbox - We all are victims of allowing our Inbox to set our priorities. Use a site blocker to stop access, or schedule times during the day to check with a more new age process where you batch your email tasks for 15 minutes every 2 hours.
- Find your performance sweet spot - Are you a morning person or a late in the day person? Why give your most productive biorhythms to inconsequential tasks. Find your sweet spot and make sure you do the important tasks then and push the silly stuff for your low energy parts of the day.
- Set Up Your Calendar - Schedule 1-2 hour time blocks for project time (not email, phone or social media) and stick to it. If its in my calendar it must be important. In addition, if you hold Open Office Hours or something where the public wants your time, figure out how many hours per week you want to give and then schedule 20 minute blocks over the course of that hour(s). Use a URL for the calendar and force the public to schedule themselves. Here is more detail on this calendar hack.
- Create Canned Email Responses - If a Google GMAIL user, go to settings and select Lab and enable Canned Responses. This makes it easy to respond to requests for your time and other repeatable answers. Click and the response fills in. Press send.
- Be Intentional About Meetings - How many? How long? Who is required? What is the purpose? Think about these questions and determine your role in those answers. Just don't follow the crowd.
- Have A Vacation Purpose - read this post for more details but again be intentional about getting what you want from your vacation.
- Walk Every Day - Many smarter people have shared the physical and psychological benefits of movement. Try the lunchtime walk. Its not for cardio its for your brain so don't add a change of outfit or an exercise goal to the mix. Just go for a 30-minute walk.
- Play Ambient and/or Repetitive Music - I got this from Tim Ferris and have used it for years (215 INC articles to date). I found a Pandora station that has high BPM, no words and the songs sound pretty similar. There is energy and a focus that results from this approach that helps my creativity. (Obviously I am listening now as I write this.)
- Meditate - the no brainer of the list. I fall off every so often but when I need it. 10 minutes of Headspace can go along way to pushing the bad stuff out to the ozone.
Got a couple more to add to the list? Throw them in the comments so I can try them too.