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Focus at work

4 Killer Productivity Hacks

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work”

Stephen King

Productivity – 4 Quick Tips To Improve Yours

Productivity is something I’ve been trying to improve all my life. It has taken me a very long time to take control over my “monkey mind” and become productive. I’ve collected a few of my favourite techniques that can help you with your productivity issues.

1. Use checklists or to do lists to organise yourself

Using a checklist either at work or for a simple task like shopping is beneficial in many ways. It can save your brain power for more creative things – brain capacity is definitely limited and using it up on trying to remember tasks is definitely not the most efficient way of using it – and you can save time.

Outsourcing and delegating becomes easier, too – it helps you to identify tasks and sub tasks and helps you get clarity on how each of them should be executed.


Some tips on how to create the perfect checklist

  • Don’t write too many items on your check list as you’ll get overwhelmed and may subconsciously decide to sabotage it and ignore the list altogether. I think more anything more than 5 main items is too many.
  • On the other hand, do create sub-tasks to make the process easier. Not every task requires sub tasks but some do and it makes it easier to clarify the process.
  • Do the biggest win of the day in the morning. Tim Ferriss uses his morning diary to brainstorm and identify the “game-changer task of the day” – the one that would make the biggest impact if completed. Identify what that is and start working on it before you get sucked in time-consuming tasks like emails.
  • Don’t over complicate your checklist by technology. I personally use the Notepad app on my MacBook as it syncs with my phone so I can have it on the go. It also has a new nice checklist feature that I can tick so it fits the purpose perfectly. You can use an oldschool paper notepad or an app if you really want to but with all honesty, the simpler the better.

2. Group similar activities

Ok, so you have a check list that includes various stuff. There are the things that others ask you to do, some you want to do and loads that you simply have to do. Instead of start ticking things off without much reflection, try to group similar activities to be done together so your brain doesn’t have to switch between various tasks.

You use various brain functions and areas for different tasks and jumping from one to the other can take up more brain capacity that you want to waste. You lose momentum and that can slow you down.

What do I mean by similar tasks?  If you have a job that involves a variety admin, creative tasks such as writing or design and business development tasks such as going after new clients or handling calls with third party suppliers, you want to group some of these activities:

  • Morning started with creative tasks such as writing, design, creative solutions and idea generation
  • Emails- set time for do these in one bulk instead of checking them all day. (Ok, admittedly, this can be a challenging one as bosses tend to want to get a response ASAP. You can just do a search in the morning for emails from important people but don’t spend more time on this than necessary. If you’re brave enough, talk to your boss and explain that you only check emails at 12.30/2pm/3pm as you’re trying to utilise your time more effectively.)
  • Do admin tasks after lunch when you tend to be in a food coma – expenses, holiday requests, meeting setting and accounting and similar boring tasks can be achieved with less creative brain capacity.
  • Group dealing with clients and suppliers in one group – I personally tend to do this in the afternoon.

3. Focus on one thing at the time

With various aspects of life we all have a lot on our plate. Work, home, social relationships, family life, hobbies – all come with endless amount of tasks fighting for your brain power and attention . When you’re in multitasking-mode it is easy to feel like everything gets 20% of your attention but nothing ever gets 100%.

Juggling various tasks divides your attention and you can’t completely focus on any of them. It’s time to start giving your work your full focus and do one task at the time – it’ll massively improve your productivity.

4. Use roject management tools

I love using both to do lists and project management tools to improve my daily level of productivity. To do lists are great to manage tasks daily but for overall projects, you need something a bit more powerful. With platforms like Trello, Freedcamp or Basecamp you can prioritise and manage longer projects effectively.

Some advantages of using a management tool

  • Most web-based tools offer a platform for collaboration – you can work along with other people, assign tasks and manage teams
  • You can set deadlines and milestones and get reminder emails
  • Manage meatier projects by setting tasks and sub-tasks
  • You can store files, images and project plans in one place accessible by your whole team
  • Take advantage of the basic versions of these platforms free of charge
  • Some platforms offer payable plugins that allow you to connect CRM, accounting tools or Google Drive

Your thoughts?

Leave a comment below. 

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Hi there, I'm Anna, editor of the Practical Happiness blog. I'm a life-curious adventure lover, an aspiring social scientist and a positive psychology nerd, interested in the why behind everyday life's mysteries. I write about things that excite and inspire me.

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