Have you ever said yes to too many projects? Or have your colleagues quit en masse and left you to pick up the pieces? We’ve all been in situations when we need to level up our productivity ASAP. Stat. Pronto.
Maybe you’re feeling the pressure at work, or maybe you just want to find more time to work on a personal project at the end of the day. Either way, learning how to boost productivity takes practice, and sometimes just telling yourself to stay focused isn’t enough.
By using the right productivity hacks, you can tell your brain to stop procrastinating and make time for the most important tasks on your to-do list! Let us show you our top 9 productivity hacks.
Top 9 Productivity Hacks
These 9 productivity tips are designed to get you into the best frame of mind to read, write, organize, or do whatever else you need to get done.
Needless to say, your “mileage” may vary. If you’re a remote worker, you may have more flexibility for trying productivity hacks that alter your workflow. If you work in a physical office, you may have to get more creative and compromise with other members of your team.
We all have different habits and work styles, so don’t be afraid to choose the life hacks that work best for you and ignore the ones that don’t!
1. Wake Up Early (Or Stay Up Late)
Ok, we really mean you should get to know your body’s clock and wake up at the time that leaves you well-rested and with enough energy to start your day.
If you can wake up at sunrise and cross some items off of your to-do list before heading into work, great! But if you’re more of a night owl and get a burst of energy after the sun goes down, there’s no shame in burning the midnight oil.
As some examples of how much circadian rhythms can vary, BrainPickings has a handy chart showing the sleep habits of famous writers. Some of them were productive at 4 in the morning while others preferred a 10 a.m wake-up time. So set the smart alarm on your Fitbit.
Once you find your ideal sleep time, you need to stick to it. That way, your body is more likely to start feeling tired at the same time each night. See if you can optimize your sleep schedule and routine. You might be surprised at how much more you can fit in when you add a yoga routine to your morning or read a mystery novel to help you fall asleep.
2. Optimize Your Morning Routine
As a general rule, multitasking is a big no-no when it comes to productivity. However, there’s one time of day that’s perfect for doing two things at once: your commute.
No, you shouldn’t be texting while driving. But your commute is a great opportunity to listen to an audiobook in the car, read a book on the subway, or even exercise by biking to work. One idea: If your workplace is bilingual, learn a language during your commute.
If you work from home, consider scheduling a short “commute.” Go for a walk around the block while listening to a podcast to get you into the mindset of work, instead of just stumbling out of bed and into your first virtual meeting.
3. Create a Comfortable Workspace
Working from home is like getting four workspaces in one, right? The bed, the couch, the desk, and the kitchen table. Except that not all of these options are great for your mindset – or your posture. When you take care of your body and set yourself up for feeling like you’re “at work” in a certain space, you’re more likely to focus and work productively.
And we’re pretty sure that none of your clients or colleagues want you showing up to meetings with your laundry hamper and childhood NSYNC posters in the background.
No matter where you work – your home, an office, or a coworking space – take the time to choose a comfortable seating arrangement that won’t result in back pain.
Making your home office a great place to focus may involve investing in an adjustable desk or a second monitor, or just putting on some noise-cancelling headphones.
4. Turn Off Notifications
Next, turn off unneeded notifications while you’re working. That way, you’ll get rid of the temptation to click on Asana in the middle of writing a brief just because you see that little circle on the icon. The less task-switching you do, the more you can focus.
If your team communicates using productivity apps like Slack or Asana, you’ll still be able to reach each other via the desktop interface. Just update your Slack status to let your team know you’re in “deep work” mode or taking a break.
If you’re spending a lot of time on non-work tasks, then you may need to use a website blocker to keep you from accessing them altogether.
You can install some of these tools as browser extensions, and set them to turn on and off at specific times of day. You can even go a step further and turn off your phone altogether or put it on airplane mode.
5. Use Email Wisely
Email just isn’t as important as it used to be, so you don’t need email notifications for other apps. Chances are you already get notified in a project management tool when someone on your team messages you.
Declutter your inbox by turning off email notifications for Slack and other sites that you check regularly. That way, you’ll spend less time sorting through your Gmail inbox and more time on other important tasks. Those prompts to review the latest cabernet from your subscription wine box can wait.
If you work for a team that relies on email, put together some email templates you can use more than once so you don’t have to write a new message every time.
6. Make a Smart To-Do List
One simple way to boost your productivity is by making the right kind of to-do list. The Harvard Business Review found that too many tasks at a time can be overwhelming, so one popular approach is to list just one major task to do per day.
It doesn’t matter if you use a to-do list app or just jot things down on paper. Group similar tasks together so you can do them at once, and do small tasks first to give you a sense of momentum.
It can be tempting to tackle tasks in the order they pop up, but you’ll get more done by having a consistent task management strategy.
You can even use an app for this – for example, Anchor AI can identify action items mentioned during virtual meetings and remind you to follow up on them.
7. Take Breaks – Lots of Them
Taking a break is important for your physical and mental health. But not just any break – the amount of time you spend on your break matters. Too short and you won’t get the benefits, too long and you might find it hard to get back in the zone.
One popular approach is the Pomodoro Technique, in which you alternate between 25-minute work sessions and five-minute breaks. You’ll get a longer break for up to 30 minutes after four work sessions.
This amount of time isn’t right for everyone, so don’t force it if it isn’t working. Shorter or longer intervals between breaks are fine too!
Instead of assigning one of your team members to take notes by hand, you can use an automated tool like Anchor AI to take meeting notes for you. This lets notetakers focus on other tasks and saves them from having to ask people to repeat themselves.
Once you’ve scheduled a meeting, simply invite Anchor AI to your Zoom conference or virtual meeting room. Anchor AI will take time-stamped notes and even identify action items that you can come back to later.
This helps give you a record of any decisions that were made and topics that were brought up.
9. Keep Personal and Work Tasks Separate
A big part of productivity is knowing when to take time off so that you’re energized and recharged for the next task or project.
This might mean not answering work calls or emails on the weekend or taking a few days off to focus on personal projects. Or it might mean taking a break from caffeine so you can reset your baseline and don’t have to drink so much coffee in the morning to get things done!
It’s fine to add personal tasks to your to-do list – such as planning a friend’s birthday party, going to the gym, or paying your car insurance. Just keep them separate from your work tasks. That way, it’s easy to tell them apart.
How Anchor AI Can Improve Your Productivity
The best productivity hacks are really just life hacks designed for the workplace. If applied in a way that works for you, they can bring huge wins to your work-life balance and mental health. And remember, the more tasks you automate, the more you can free up your bandwidth to focus on something else.
Speaking of productivity hacks, if virtual meetings are taking up too much space on your to-do list, sign up for Anchor AI today. By automating the note-taking process, you can spend more time on what’s important – like building rapport with your colleagues and getting through every agenda item – and have an effective meeting transcript to look back on and keep the momentum going.