For any business, productivity has to be a top priority.
To help you give it the attention it deserves there is currently a boom in productivity software and philosophies you can tap into. If you want to make sure you’ve got what you need on your side, the following productivity hacks will make a massive difference, whatever industry you work in.
Put one, two, or more into practice and you won’t end your working day feeling you could have done more.
You won’t feel like you’ve wasted your day or are a little incomplete. Instead, you’ll be feeling satisfied and fulfilled with all that you’ve accomplished.
A survey of nearly 2,000 office workers in the U.K. found that the average employee was productive for approximately 2 hours and 53 minutes each day.
That’s not much, right?
That’s why I decided to ask business owners and freelancers about their productivity hacks!
Intend your Daily Results in the Morning
It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve each day.
Spend a few moments each morning to intend your desired outcome for the day ahead. This could be anything from completing a certain task, to achieving a specific goal such as getting three new clients, or simply feeling more peaceful and content.
When you take the time to set your intention for the day, you are 7x more likely to achieve your desired result. This is because you are focused and clear on what you want, and are more likely to take the necessary actions to make it happen.
So, start each day by intending your desired outcome, and see how much closer you come to achieving it!
Sound and Clear Break Management
Always have breakfast before starting your daily work in the morning since this will help you stay productive.
No matter how busy you are, you never forget to take a regular break. A short break with the Pomodoro technique will help you to break work up into short periods. This break refreshes your mind, allowing you to stay focused on your work.
However, you should not spend your break time on social media. Using social media over the break can mentally distract you by exposing you to negativity.
You may get the most out of your breaks by engaging in activities that refresh your body and mind. During your break, you can do short workouts like cardio, bodyweight squats, etc.
Write Tomorrow’s Checklist End of the Work Day
Motivation is something that is sorely misunderstood.
It isn’t something that you build up in order to complete tasks, but the opposite—motivation is how the brain rewards you for accomplishing something. To effectively tap into this concept, it’s important to build motivation and momentum through completing tasks in the day-to-day, no matter how easy or difficult they are.
Start by writing down each task you do at the start of your workday.
No task is too small, as the goal here is to trick your brain into thinking you’re accomplishing a lot.
My checklist for the day includes my morning coffee, meditation, and responding to emails. Although these are things I’d be doing every day no matter what, it feels like I get into a good rhythm by checking these off on my to-do list.
By writing tomorrow’s checklist at the end of your day, you’ll know exactly what your morning looks like and also trick your brain into giving you more motivation to get things done.
Gear up for the Hacks of Being Productive!
Go for the SMART goals when planning on your day – in easy words, have a specific plan for the day to follow; measurable criteria to assess your progress throughout the week; achievable targets on the plan; realistic objectives and timely completion of the projects.
The SMART approach can help you become a lot more productive as it helps prioritize tasks and aim for efficient output.
You also need to keep a check on your routine and habits to improve your productivity levels.
In my experience, waking up and sleeping early helps improve your productivity a lot.
You will be surprised to see how many things you can get done early morning before you even start work. Then, a good healthy breakfast can act as a body fuel to help you on tasks throughout the day.
Lastly, a good morning workout routine can help elevate your concentration levels.
Maximize Slack Functionality for More Productivity
Slack is more than just a messaging app—it’s my assistant.
Besides using Slack for communicating with the team, I extend its use as personal task/meeting reminders, brain dump, and central notification system for other apps.
Here are some of my favorite Slack integrations:
- Google Calendar for meeting alerts
- Google Drive for keeping track of group projects
- MarkupHero for instant annotating on screen captures
- Trivia for a fun 5-minute quiz time with colleagues
Our company even uses Slack for onboarding new employees and arranging a game night.
In this way, I can access all my work and appointments from a single app and cut down the time to search and switch between apps.
Structure your Work with an Everyday Plan
My personal experience shows that multitasking is one of the main reasons behind getting you tired and making you feel unproductive.
Every process, especially at work, requires special attention. Trying to give 100% of yourself for a number of processes at the same time may exhaust your mind and reduce your desire to get your tasks done.
My solution to this is to keep track of all my job duties and make sure each of them has its own time frame.
Keeping myself organized and productive inside and outside my job requires an everyday plan that includes all my duties and responsibilities.
What I use to help myself out is my Google Calendar. It is not complicated, it sends me notifications for each task and it prevents mental exhaustion.
In fact, I’ve noticed using Google Calendar increases my desire to stay productive and get all the daily tasks done efficiently and on time.
Get up Early
My number one productivity hack is to wake up early.
I know a lot of people hate the sound of that, but if you can get up just a few hours earlier than you normally would, it can make a big difference in your day.
Some things that I like to do in those early morning hours are work out, read or journal, and plan my day.
If I try to do all of those things at night after work, it’s usually impossible because I’m too tired.
But if I get them done in the morning when I have more energy, it makes my day run a lot smoother. Plus, it means that by the time night rolls around and my brain is fried, I can just relax without feeling guilty.
Automate Where Possible
My favorite hack is to automate redundancies and time-sucking processes.
We do way too many things manually that we shouldn’t have to. And these things all add up to time being wasted. While not everything should be automated, but definitely things that you find yourself doing again and again.
Whether this is scheduling social media updates, generating monthly reports of data, or anything else you find yourself doing again and again – automating these processes saves you time.
And once you start off-loading these repetitive tasks to automation, you start to gain back more of your time to focus on things that can’t be automated. For example, your side hustle, customer service, family time, etc.
Identify Tasks to Automate and Delegate
If you believe that multitasking enhances your productivity, I’d strongly disagree. In fact, it is counterproductive.
I would rather concentrate on my MITs (most important tasks) and focus all my energy on completing them efficiently.
As an entrepreneur, learn to identify tasks that can be automated or delegated. Put technology to good use and automate all the repetitive tasks.
Remember, you have top-class tools at your disposal to manage several tasks for you, right from social media posts to emails, coordinating with your team, and managing your calendar.
At the same time, learn to delegate tasks that your core team handles. You can get the ball rolling by chalking out the plan and putting the guidelines in place.
From there on, let your team take over and handle those tasks.
I practice the same and it helps me to stay organized and be my best in things that really matter to me.
Enter ‘Deep Work’ Mode
Whether you work from home, from an office, or from a cozy coworking space, it’s so easy to get distracted.
We all have those days when we feel that we didn’t actually get anything done. We get lost in emails, calls, and meetings and at the end of the day, we haven’t done any progress with our main task.
Entering deep work mode is what saves me from being distracted and keeps me productive during the day.
I create a distraction-free environment and try to focus on my main task for the day for a few hours.
This technique not only improves my productivity but also helps me get more things done and gives me more time for other things like going out, spending time with my family, or learning new skills.
Don’t Skip your Breaks
Unfortunately, each of us has a limit of deep focus.
It is impossible to stay concentrated enough on a particular task for too long. Therefore, is it essential to take breaks and give your brain some rest?
No matter how busy you are, there always should be a couple of minutes for a break. However, some dedicated employees tend to sacrifice their breaks to cram more work during the day. However, this habit actually reduces the level of productivity.
Try to schedule your breaks periodically, even on the most challenging days.
Take some minutes to stand up, walk around and put your mind at rest. As a result, you will return to work refreshed and energized.
Interruptions are the biggest killers of productivity.
How many times have you found yourself on social media during working hours? Have you ever kept track of how much time you’ve lost?
When you want to focus on a task, eliminate all distractions.
Prepare a schedule or a to-do list.
Then, put your phone on silent and move it out of your reach. Pause all desktop notifications, or even use a blocker to limit your access to certain apps and websites.
If you’re working in an area where you can be disturbed, move to a different spot or let people around you know you need to concentrate.
Simple preparatory steps like this can allow you the time and space to focus on deep work and notably boost your productivity.
Identify your Productive Time
A classical 9 to 5 schedule is definitely not a good fit for modern workers, who are more appreciated for the quality and efficiency of their work.
There is no secret that every person tends to get a particular strike of creativity and productivity at some point during the day.
While time is seen as a valuable resource, your own energy is your most valuable currency. To accomplish any tasks efficiently, it is essential to understand how your brain works and when is its most productive time.
Understanding the work of your brain depends solemnly on your awareness, experimentation, and raw data.
Instead of telling your body when it should be working, it would be more effective to listen to it and schedule the most critical tasks during peak hours. Besides, knowing yourself better does not require much.
Take Enough Breaks
Take a break at least every two hours.
After ca. two hours, your focus starts to decline and you just start staring at your screen without producing anything valuable anymore.
Taking a break gives you the opportunity to recharge and have the necessary energy for the next two hours.
If you don’t know what to do during the break, find good reasons to get away from your desk. For example to get a glass of water or a coffee, a snack, …
It can be as simple as that.
It’s also good for your body, especially for your neck and your back. If you have time for a longer break, go for a run or a workout.
You’d be surprised how motivated you are to start working again.
I do it, and the outdoor air and exercise give me the oxygen to increase my productivity significantly.
Create Repeatable Processes
When building out systems or growing a company, you’ll often do something for the first time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls flat. It’s important to get things out the door quickly to learn, iterate, and also to stop doing things that don’t add value.
Once you’ve figured out what does work, the next step is to streamline the process and automate as much of it as possible – you’ve got other ideas to build and test!
Using software tools to build this process and scale the impact is crucial when you have limited time and resources. Using built-in integrations between popular tools, or supplementing with connectors like Zapier will save you so much time in the long run.
And then when you’ve optimized the process, document it.
This will let you hand the work off immediately, or when you have a more hands-on deck.
A tool like Scribe can create these process documents instantly while you do the work, saving even more time.
Use Site Blocker Extensions
Focused work is the backbone of productivity and this is nearly impossible with an influx of distractions from virtually every site we visit.
It’s very common to get an email, a Slack notification, or a social media notification every few minutes. This makes it extremely difficult to focus on one task and make any progress in your day.
Installing a site blocker on your computer is a great way to counter this and set yourself up for success.
There are numerous site blockers available in the Chrome web store and the majority of them are free.
You can download any one of them and enter sites that you want to block during your focused work period. This can include sites like Gmail, Slack, YouTube, etc.
By eliminating notifications and distractions from these sites, you can focus on doing your most high-priority tasks and have a productive workday.
Always Have Snacks on Hand
If you work for long hours every day, you should know by now that it’s really difficult to work on an empty stomach; you tend to lose focus more easily while you feel the clock is ticking in the opposite direction.
However, I do believe some break-time snacks (certainly not all of them) can help you with productivity, not only because science says so but also because I have experienced the results myself.
My top three go-to snacks for break-time that can’t be missing in my refrigerator are:
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, etc.)
- Apples with peanut butter
These snacks are packed with healthy fats and the necessary amount of nutrition to get me through the day with a full belly and a sharp mind.
Blocking Time on your Calendar
My favorite productivity tip is to put things you wanna do on your calendar.
When it’s just on your to-do list, and you pick up an item to do, the brain (or maybe just my brain) tells me that you could be something else.
But when I give myself permission to work on it by blocking time for it on my calendar, then I don’t face this problem that much.
The other benefit to blocking time is that you can see how much you can realistically accomplish in your day so that you don’t take too much work or take too little.
Turn your Phone to Silent
Being an entrepreneur means I have distractions coming from all sides. They come as email notifications, alerts, texts, and social media updates.
If I’m not careful, I will spend a good few hours just checking my phone and will not get any work done.
With that said, turning my phone to silent for an hour or so during the day helps me accomplish a lot more. While one hour might feel too short, it’s long enough to focus on the task at hand, and at the same time not wait too long to respond to important messages.
You can do this once a day or more, depending on your preference.
The key is to eliminate distractions even if it’s just for a little bit, and it’s difficult to do that when your phone is constantly buzzing.
Work in Blocks
It’s safe to say that like me, a lot of people visualize working several hours a day uninterrupted.
The truth is, it’s hard to focus after a while and it’s good to change things up a little. Once I noticed that my productivity was slowing down significantly, I decided to work in shorter time slots, something similar to the Pomodoro technique. Each time slot, or block, is allocated to a specific task.
This helps me in two ways:
- I’m more motivated to put all my concentration on that time slot because I know it will go by fast.
- The next time slot will be a completely different task, keeping things fresh and a little bit more exciting.
Once I feel I’m starting to get bored which is usually what slows me down, I make a point to do a different task in the next block of time.
Get a Good Night of Sleep
We’re all busy and it’s rare we can stick with a schedule of an early bedtime and early rising. While waking up early would be ideal, some people, like me, are night owls.
Because of this, I had to adjust my schedule and work when I’m the most productive. A good night of sleep, no matter when it’s crucial for me (or anyone) to have more energy and to work more efficiently.
There’s nothing worse for your productivity than being constantly tired.
So if you can’t stick with the normal schedule, and can’t seem to fall asleep before 10pm, just make sure you get a good solid sleep so your body and brain can rest and recharge.
Some people need a full 8 hours while some others are perfectly fine with less.
Find what works for you and your health, and make sure to stick to that schedule.
Don’t Skip on Meals
When you do a job you love it’s easy to forget to do things that aren’t work-related.
As excited as I am to work to grow my business, I make a point to stop and do other important things, like eating.
Working for long hours without eating properly affects my mood, and my energy, thus having a big impact on the quality of my work.
The best way I have accomplished this is to set up a schedule that I stick to that includes working hours and breaks for my meals and snacks.
This means during the time slot I’m supposed to be working, I’ll be less likely to think about food and more about the task at hand.
Complete Harder Tasks First
We all have those items on our to-do list that we dread doing. Whether it’d be my bookkeeping or scheduling my social media posts, I try to take care of harder or longer tasks first.
Doing this helps me clear my head and I can move on to whatever is next in line without thinking I need to do this or that before the end of the day.
This doesn’t mean I’m completing something that I don’t like first, but just the harder and more complicated ones, which usually take me the longest.
It’s amazing how much more time I have in the day doing this way.
I feel more accomplished which gives me more motivation to take on other challenges. At the end of the day, I have noticed I completed way more than just procrastinating all day while doing busy work.
Make a Shorter To-Do List
Sometimes simple is best.
As long as I have a list of things I need to accomplish that day, I can follow through on most of them.
The trick is to write them down, however, and not to overdo them. If I just keep a long and imaginary list in my head I will get sidetracked after the first item on the list.
There’s something about physically writing down your tasks, reading, and crossing them off as you complete each of them.
I might not finish the entire list, so shrinking the size of it has definitely helped me work faster and be more productive. Additionally, I don’t forget to do things anymore unless I haven’t written them down.
This strategy has changed the game for me in more ways than one.
Wanting to do it all has been my biggest struggle. I have an endless amount of work and sometimes it just paralyzes me, so I learned to delegate some of it so I can focus on the more important stuff.
The need to control everything was affecting my own performance and quality of work, so I started hiring help on a freelance basis.
This has made me a better professional since I had to learn to trust other people to do things for me.
I now have more time to dedicate myself to things I cannot delegate and I don’t feel rushed doing them anymore, and I’m getting a lot more results than if I try to do everything myself.
When you stretch yourself too thin your work and your business suffer.
I used to think so very highly of anyone who prided themselves on multitasking. The fact that I had to switch focus from one thing to another, then another within minutes was just very stressful.
I would start several things at once and not finish them, so after a lot of frustration, I changed strategies. Now I focus on one thing at a time and I give that one task my undivided attention.
Multitasking was slowing me down which was affecting all of my deadlines.
Doing too many things at once gives you a false sense of efficiency. Once I stopped, my performance improved, I was less anxious and stressed, and I was completing my projects on time.
Each Day a Different Goal
This works really well for when I have longer tasks like social media content.
Whether I’m typing up a few blog posts or just scheduling all my social media posts for the month, this takes a big chunk of time.
Then the next day I move on to something else like payroll.
The trick is to avoid doing everything at the same time, which has led to quite a few mistakes. If I start messing things up because I can’t properly concentrate on each task, then I’ll have to spend extra time fixing them.
This is not a very efficient way to work if all you do is fix your own work.
“NO” is a Complete Sentence
The idea of saying no to a project or client and losing a paycheck can be scary.
However, sometimes in order to protect your sanity, you have to say no, no matter how attractive the job may be.
If I have too many deadlines I will start rushing to finish them, which will lead to less than stellar results.
My clients will certainly notice the quality of the work and I might lose money in the future if they decide to go to my competitors.
If I really have a hard time saying no to a specific project, then I set firm terms on an extended deadline.
This helps secure the client, and I’ll have extra time to complete the work without compromising the quality.
Have the Right Tools
Having all my social media work done in one day helps avoid the doom scroll on Instagram or Facebook, which are time suckers.
If I’m trying to be productive, I need to make sure I don’t get pulled into social media after I post my content, so I schedule everything to be posted automatically.
This is just like delegating your work to a machine.
You batch content, and they are all scheduled automatically on the dates you specified, including your caption and hashtags. There’s an automation possibility for everything but I feel like social media would be the thing to automate. You just get so distracted scrolling through your feed and when that happens I can kiss my to-do list bye-bye.
Not having to constantly think about what I’m posting every day also helped me accomplish more during my work hours.
Take a Break
I was easily taking more breaks when I worked in corporate than now that I have started my business.
Even though I’m excited about what I do every day, I started losing focus because my brain never took a break.
That’s when I started taking short breaks more frequently.
This gave me a chance to think and look at something else other than my computer screen. The burst of energy I get from those breaks also gets me more motivated to finish my work, especially during those afternoon slow hours when I get more tired.
I get up, stretch, drink some water, then get back to work feeling like a new person.
Make a Commitment
A lot of people seem to wait for motivation to show up in order to be productive.
When in fact, sometimes you just have to power through it all.
You have to make a commitment, and motivation will come after you accomplish something not before.
Once I realized that I just need to do things before I’m ready, I started to see bigger results in my business. When you make a commitment, you start accomplishing whatever it is that you set your mind to.
Sometimes you just have to get started, and that’s already productive
Batch Similar Tasks Together
Productivity is often about working smarter, not harder.
And that’s especially true when it comes to time management.
One of the simplest productivity hacks is to batch similar tasks together.
If you have a lot of emails to write, for example, set aside some time to focus exclusively on that task. Then move on to something else.
Batching tasks like this can help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by other things that need to be done.
By using this simple strategy, you can take control of your time, increase your productivity, and get more done in less time.
Take Time for Yourself
Waking up early is something that helps me be more productive.
For most of us, as soon as the clock strikes 9, we’re already responding to emails, jumping on work calls, or getting bombarded with notifications until 5/6pm – leaving us little time to focus on anything outside of work matters.
Since we can’t add more hours to the workday (and for good reason), I try to wake up around 5am every day so that I can take care of myself first before anything else. Whether it’s going for a run, grabbing a cup of coffee from my favorite coffee shop, or making my own breakfast – this way my mornings are never rushed and I have enough time to think about/plan my day.
Not rushing in the morning is the key to setting yourself up for the rest of the day.
You might like waking up a little earlier than you normally do to do things you enjoy. Start your day slowly and give your mind that boost it needs to process everything that lies ahead of the day.
Write Down a To-Do List
This may probably be the simplest of productivity hacks but for me personally, it’s the most effective one.
Personally, I use a diary to write down my to-do lists at the beginning of each day. This takes less than 5 minutes and this helps me plan my day out as I write my tasks and it helps me prioritize each of them.
As my day progresses, I will cross off the tasks I have finished but also add new ones as we all know, things just come up.
I usually go over my to-do list one last time just before I wrap up for the day to see everything I have accomplished that day to finish on a high.
You’ve probably heard the expression work smart, not harder. It’s a good philosophy to have and one that most successful people in the world have got to grips with.
They understand only too well how important it is to maximize efficiency without spending extra hours on work.
Hopefully, these productivity hacks that we’ve shared with you will help you work a bit smarter. However, it’s also important to remember that you have to be willing to embrace change if you want to become more productive.
Good luck with all that you do and make this year your most productive on record.