If you are someone who is required to be in multiple places each day, who gets overwhelmed by the number of things you need to accomplish in a week, or is looking to save time running a business, then this list of productivity hacks is for you.
Plan ahead. Use Sunday as a planning day and get clear on your “must do’s” for the week. Look at what you have to do during the week and write out a prioritized list before the week starts.
One way you can track this list electronically is through your calendar. You cam create an appointment called “To Do” with your tasks for the week. List those things in order of importance. Then check those off as the week goes on. If there are any undone tasks left on the following Sunday, you can easily move those to the next week.
Let’s talk about Calendar blocking. It is the practice of blocking time on your calendar to tackle important tasks. It isn’t a new concept, but it’s an extremely effective productivity hack.
Calendar blocking is essentially scheduling tasks into your calendar. You look at your to-do list and reserve blocks of time on your calendar to work on that task. Then you work on those tasks during that time.
It is a simple idea but it works so well because many of us rely on our calendars to help up manage everything we are expected to do – business meetings, fitness class, dinner dates with friends, etc. Adding in work on “task x” time blocks are an incredible way to ensure that we get our work done.
Feeling swamped with emails? Delegate! Don’t have time to engage your audience on social media? Delegate! Feeling like you are being pulled in a million different directions? Delegate!
When you realize you’ve run out of time in your day and are desperately trying to find ways to save time while running a business, outsourcing should be your go to productivity hack.
Outsourcing (or delegating) is the process of identifying tasks that are time-sucks and can be delegated to a virtual assistant, employee, or freelancer. Consider necessary tasks like bookkeeping, posting on social media, or handling customer service correspondence. Take anything that can be successfully done by someone else and pass those tasks off.
It is like you are buying back your time and freeing yourself to do the things that are more productive uses of your time.
Seriously. Stop Multi-tasking.
You may think that you are doing two things as once but you are actually switching back and forth between the two tasks. Multi-tasking is actually impossible for our brains and in turn slows down our productivity. Multi-tasking not only compromises our productivity by not allowing us to function at our finest, but it also negatively impacts our attentiveness, learning, and focus.
The better option is to choose to do one thing at a time. Mono-tasking is the practice of single-mindedly focusing on a single project and completing a series of tasks one at a time in the pursuit of a given outcome.
I bet some of you are thinking, “right… so I’m not supposed to multitask, focus on one thing at a time, and still manage to get my work done. How do I do that?”
The answer? Use the pomodoro method instead. It helps you stay focused and get tasks done in record time. The pomodoro method is an excellent productivity hack. It can 3x or 4x your normal productivity level. Some report being able to complete a full day’s work in a matter of 4 hours.
So what is the pomodoro method? The technique consists of five steps. They are:
1) Determine the task you’d like to accomplish. It can be something you are putting off, a small task or even a larger project. The key for larger projects is to break it down into smaller chunks or steps.
2) Set a timer for 25 minutes. The idea is to work uninterrupted on your task for a full 25 minutes. If you discover “found work” or something else that needs to be done, write it down for later. The goal is to keep going on the task at hand.
3) Stop when the timer goes off. This one can be hard for people. It is tempting to keep working. However, it is imperative that you stop wherever you are.
4) Take a short break. Seriously, take a break. Stretch, refill your coffee, walk around. It doesn’t matter what you do during the break as long as it is relaxing and not work related.
Note: the one exception to the no-work rule is if you spend some time evaluating what went well during that session and what you should improve on during the next one. This type of tracking will help you improve your productivity over time. My suggestion is to spend no more than 2 minutes on this. Then you take the full break afterward.
5) Every 4 sessions, take a longer break. 4 sessions is close to 2 hours of work. Take a longer break (say 20 or 30 minutes) to relax. This longer break will give your brain time to rest and process any necessary information. The break will help you avoid burnout and be more prepared for another round of pomodoro sessions.
This method works for a number of reasons. 1) Your work will be clearly defined and broken down into small chunks. 2) Distractions and disruptions are minimized because you re-center every 25 minutes. In other words, it prevents massive time loss by forcing you to revaluate after each block of time. 3) You know exactly what your target is so flow state can happen quickly.
The end result? Work gets done much faster and more enjoyably.
Taking a break after each task might sound counter-productive but it has been proven as an effective method. It not only gives you a chance to clear you head and re-energize, it also has a few additional benefits.
On top of being re-energizing, it is also a way to become more productive over time. The break between tasks allows you to evaluate how you did on the last task and plan for the next one.
It is also an excellent motivator. You can more easily convince yourself to sit down for a short time to do one task, knowing there is a break at the end. Think about it this way: imagine that you have to convince yourself to sit down for 4 hours and get numerous tasks done. Notice the resistance you feel. Now think about convincing yourself to accomplish a single task that will only take a few minutes AND you get a break at the end. Which one sounds more doable? The one with the break right?
How about you? Have you tried these productivity hacks? Do you have other productivity hacks that help you save time running a business? Let us know and leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.