It’s a new year and your resolutions can involve the gym and the office. To get you started, here’s a list of 17 productivity hacks for 2017!
Productivity Hack #1 – Go Somewhere New
If you’re distracted by your surroundings or feeling uninspired, try taking a trip somewhere else! It doesn’t have to be a big trip but if you can work in a coffee shop or a quieter room in your home, you may find inspiration and increase productivity!
2) Stop Checking Your Email First Thing In The Morning
This piece of advice is extremely common but it’s unbelievably hard to implement. When you wake up in the morning, it’s easy to lose an indefinite amount of time in your inbox. It’s likely that those emails can wait an hour for you to get to the office and it’s rarely a productive start to the day. Instead, take a shower, enjoy your coffee, read the newspaper, or spend time visiting with your family or loved ones.
3) Manage Expectations
If there’s only one piece of advice in this entire article that you remember, it’s this: manage expectations. It’s okay to say “no” to a time consuming project that would stress you out. Sometimes being a team player or leading by example means allowing others to accept or take responsibility. Be careful not to overcommit or make yourself too available. Limit the time where you’re reachable outside of work hours and set the expectation that you will be unavailable at least one day a week.
4) Automate and Delegate
Automate everything that you can and delegate the rest. Automation is easier than ever with a myriad of mobile apps, templates and personal devices to help. From personal finance to email management, automation and technology have evolved to give you more free time. Consider hiring a personal or virtual assistant to help with mundane details or even outsource work completely with the vast global workforce.
5) Set an Agenda for Meetings & Presentations
Have you ever been in a meeting that seemed like it could last forever? Set an agenda and time limit for accomplishing the objective. Set a key performance indicator (KPI) that will determine the success or failure of your meeting. Communicate with tact and focus to keep conversation on track and don’t be afraid to acknowledge that someone’s ideas (however great they are) may best be discussed at a later time.
6) The Two Minute Rule
If you can complete a task in two minutes or less, do it on the spot. This popular piece of advice is from David Allen’s method of Getting Things Done. It helps you remove the small but mentally heavy tasks that you carry around on your to-do list. If it’s simple enough to complete in two minutes, you’ll have peace of mind and positive direction after crossing one item off your list for the day.
7) Take Care of Yourself
Your body is composed of water and you need it to live. It’s a no brainer that dehydration saps energy and lowers productivity. Likewise for fuel. Don’t skip breakfast for the sake of time or because you don’t have an appetite. Your body and mind need calories to function, especially after a prolonged period with little nourishment (while you were asleep).
8) Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is not something that you can “make up for” on the weekend. It’s imperative that your body and mind repairs itself with sleep. Trying to get more hours in the day? How about making the ones you have more productive. Sleep fuels creativity and gives you energy but it also plays an important psychological and physiological role. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, consider turning off electronics and computer screens a few hours before bed.
9) Give Yourself a Break
Take regular breaks throughout the day. When you’re feeling distracted or uninspired, it may help to get some fresh air and have a conversation with co-workers. Go out for coffee or tea. Make a snack or go to the gym. Do NOT binge watch TV episodes or get lost reading on the Internet. Periodically take time away from work and the office to give yourself fresh new energy when you are back.
It seems like having everything on your desk could help you get everything done. Unfortunately, having folders and files everywhere can lead to terrible disorganization and a loss of productivity. Even if you thrive in chaos and disorganization, try a completely clear desk. The clean, refreshing appeal of a spacious desk lets you underline your accomplishments as you take out one task at a time and put it away.
11) Use Your Calendar
If it’s important enough “to do”, then it’s important enough to schedule. Put items from your to-do list onto your calendar. It will help hold you accountable and let others know when you’re busy and working. Furthermore, it will help you space out big projects over time by placing key milestones and deadlines on your calendar to work towards.
It’s no wonder that coffee and tea make up the world’s most popular beverages behind water. Caffeine and the additional psychological effects from antioxidants in green tea can help you focus and achieve more in a shorter period of time. Make sure that you drink caffeinated beverages in moderation and consider “detoxing” by reducing your caffeine consumption for one week per month.
13) Wake Up Earlier
Understand your biological clock and take control of it. Instead of defining yourself as a “morning person” or “night owl”, wake up earlier and start your day doing something for yourself that you actually want to do. Remember that your biological clock may have a rhythmic “slump” in the afternoon, so you can even drink your coffee in preparation once you have great understanding of your own biological clock!
Listening to music can help increase energy and improve your mood. As long as you’re not distracted by it, music can increase productivity by uplifting your spirits and keeping you focused. Create a playlist that will help you stay energized and working throughout the day.
15) Read Temperately
With the sheer amount of information and interaction online or on social media, it’s easy to lose track of time throughout the day. Consider a social media blackout and turning off notifications during the day. Block or avoid websites that you know to be distracting.
If you have a considerable amount of writing to accomplish, you can save time by dictating it and having it transcribed. You can use free software or even transcribe within office applications such as Google Docs. You may also use text-to-speech tools like the one in Office 365 to improve overall productivity and efficiency.
17) Garner Support
As with anything in life, your success can be bolstered by the support of those around you. Talk with co-workers, family members or your significant other about productivity changes that you might make. Schedule a work hour with a co-worker or your spouse. If you have children, make sure they know that you won’t be available to play at certain times.
Hopefully you’ve found some innovative solutions for increasing your productivity! If you have any tips or tricks for productivity, leave them in the comments and have a happy new year!