Got a lot to do and not enough hours in the day to do it in? Try these easy productivity hacks. These are tiny changes that you can implement right away--because sometimes a small change is all you need to jump-start your energy, creativity, and ability to get things done.
1. Start with the thing you dread the most.
Want to be more productive? Then get the stuff you don’t want to do out of the way.
If you start your day with a task you least enjoy, you’ll be motivated to do it more quickly so that you can move on to the work that actually excites you. And once you’ve got your most dreaded tasks out of the way, you’ll feel more positive and excited about tackling the next items on your agenda.
2. Save your files.
Did you know that hitting the save button can actually improve your memory and make you more productive? Strange but true, and science backs it up!
Psychologist Benjamin Storm of the University of California, Santa Cruz, found that saving a digital document tricked the brain into better remembering the content of that document. It provides a kind of reassurance that frees up your brain: when you save the information in a document you don’t have to worry that you’ll forget it. Instead of wasting mental energy trying to hold onto information, you can just move on to the next thing with less stress. Since we should all be saving (and backing up!) our files anyway, this is one of the easiest productivity hacks that you can implement.
3. Use a larger monitor.
Many of us spend our working days hunched over our laptops. But that laptop screen could be getting in the way of being more productive. By switching to a larger screen size--either a bigger laptop, or by using an auxiliary monitor--you can work more efficiently.
A larger monitor lets you have more windows or tabs open at once, and enables you to work seamlessly between them. Plus, I’ve found that switching to a larger monitor has forced me to change my posture: instead of peering down at my laptop, I have to sit up and look straight ahead at my monitor. This means that I have less tension in my neck and back, and can work comfortably for a longer period of time.
4. Follow the 2-minute rule.
David Allen, productivity guru and author of Getting Things Done, suggests following the two-minute rule. If you find yourself faced with a task that you can complete in two minutes or less--just do it. Now!
Following the 2-minute rule means that small, potentially irritating tasks won’t pile up over the course of the day. The rule forces you to stop procrastinating, and just do what needs doing. It can provide a huge productivity boost. Instead of having to put thought to what small tasks need to get done (that alone will take up the two minutes), I keep a handwritten list of these small items. It brings me pleasure to cross them off!
5. Respond to each email as you read it.
When you read an email, respond to it right away. Don’t file it away for later. By not responding to emails as soon as you read them, you end up with an email backlog.
However, responding to each email immediately could also introduce new interruptions into your work day, so assign a specific time each day for checking, and responding to, your email. That way, you avoid interruptions, and avoid the risk of an email backlog.
6. Listen to the sounds of nature.
Did you know that listening to natural sounds boosts creativity and productivity? Acoustician Jonas Braach suggests that offices use sound-masking signals that mimic sounds from the natural world, like the sound of a mountain stream. He found that workers who experienced these natural, soothing sounds were more productive and happier.
Go ahead and try a few of these today and let me know how it goes!