How to get more done in a day must be a frequent thought on all our minds. This is especially applicable for entrepreneurs who are trying to create something from scratch like an online business. Or for people who are running out of time due to simply being too busy with life.
We often embark on a journey of another day with big ambitions to get “stuff” done just to find ourselves lying in bed at night wondering why we didn’t accomplish what we wanted.
Read on to find 5 simple productivity hacks that helped me over the years achieving more and making the most of my 24h in a day.
Productivity Hack 1: Write It Down!
Before we get on with our day, it is paramount to write the tasks we want to accomplish down somewhere.
I find the conventional pen and paper approach works magic for me, but there are a lot of great apps alternatives out there, like Trello.com.
By writing the To-Do list, we define the scope of work which will help us stay focused and more importantly allow us to get a boosting shot of dopamine (the ‘feel good’ hormone) as soon as we cross the completed tasks off!
It’s important to define specific tasks to be small enough to be achieved within a reasonable time frame and have the means to measure their completion. For example, when we plan to exercise, defining the task e.g. “go for a 15min / 1mile run” is much better and more achievable than a vague note to simply “do some exercise”.
Productivity Hack 2: Prioritise!
Take a good look into the To-Do list and try to look for tasks that are urgent and/or important. This will help in setting off your priorities.
Often the urgent tasks are urgent because there is a genuine emergency (e.g. we woke up and realized we have a tyre puncture and need to be somewhere in the afternoon) or we have been avoiding doing until the very last minute for various reasons and now it’s urgent. A good example of that for me would be buying birthday presents!
Although life throws urgent tasks at us all the time, it’s still possible to stay proactive and think ahead of what needs to be done to avoid unnecessary urgency caused by ourselves. If you struggle motivating yourself to do that, think how would you feel when any of the urgent tasks are completed? Wouldn’t you feel great knowing it’s done, and you don’t need to worry about it anymore?
Next step is to identify the important tasks and follow the rules below to set the priorities:
- Start with important and urgent tasks. Get the hardest tasks out of the way. It will feel great and you will be motivated to continue since the dopamine is doing its magic.
- Important and non-urgent. These may take less effort, and if you find yourself hitting a roadblock don’t let this overwhelm you. You have already made great progress at that stage already.
- Non-important and/or non-urgent. Leave these tasks until the end and focus your energy there once you have exhausted the above categories.
Setting priorities may feel tedious at first, but with some practice will start coming to you more naturally up to the point where you will be doing it unconsciously.
Productivity Hack 3: Set The Time Limit!
Have you ever been in a situation where you had 1h to do something and therefore you fully utilized 1h to complete this, due to the short deadline? However, when suddenly the duration to complete the same task becomes 5h you will likely take all the available time, or worse off never finish the task in time. Most definitely you will never complete it in 1h!
I’m sure some of you may challenge this view and raise concerns about quality, but if you want to truly get the most of your day you need to start defining what’s “good enough” and set realistic and ambitious timeframes.
It is likely that if we are doing something for the first time we may set timeframes incorrectly. Nonetheless, most of us have been around long enough to be able to get a rough estimation of the effort it takes to do something.
Setting time limits allows us to resurface and prevent us going into a rabbit hole of perfection, risking the whole day being consumed with the task itself not being completed and next day life taking over with other more important or urgent tasks. “Good enough” is good enough in this case. Try and find a balanced outcome and stop striving for perfection, which is often a never-ending road!
Productivity Hack 4: Avoid Multitasking!
What seems at first hand to be a productivity boost is by many studies the number 1 productivity killer, and I agree with this! Multitasking is bad.
When we try to do too many things at once we are likely ending up not completing anything, or at best reducing the quality of work when compared with completing a task in a sequential way based on priorities.
Having undivided attention and sole focus on a single task allows us to mobilize all our intellectual resources, which leads to much better results.
This at the same time, becomes one of the most difficult things to implement, since we live in a world where distractions are everywhere and our attention spans are fragile.
This is where meditation and other mindfulness techniques may be a great tool for you.
Productivity Hack 5: Take Regular Breaks!
This may seem counterintuitive at first, but no matter what you do and how much you want to do, if you don’t take regular breaks you will quickly burn out and your productivity will rapidly decrease.
Don’t exhaust yourself and remember that tomorrow is another day that you need to be spending “focusing on completing” another list of tasks instead of spending it in bed because of chronic exhaustion.
Take regular breaks to have a drink, eat and spend time in the fresh air. Even if it’s just opening a window! It always pays off in the long term.
We all have the same 24 hours or 86400 seconds in a day, and for us entrepreneurs time is of the essence. I truly hope the above list of simple productivity hacks will serve you in making the most out of your day.
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I wish you all success in your Life.
Founder of Fantabulous Life
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