Work Productivity Hacks: 5 Quick and Easy Ways to Be More Productive
“Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest,” was the motto of social reformer Robert Owen, who advocated for shorter workdays during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century. The eight-hour workday has since become the norm in the United States, but many of us struggle to maintain productivity during those eight hours. In fact, research suggests the average American worker spends just shy of three hours a day on productive activities.
The good news is there are numerous ways to maximize productivity by using strategies and tricks that are quick and easy to implement. If you’re a 9-to-5er struggling with your work output, try these productivity hacks and start getting stuff done.
1. “Eat the frog”
“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” Mark Twain once wrote. The quote later inspired the title of motivational speaker Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, and his “eating the frog” productivity hack: finishing the most difficult, important task early in the workday.
The idea is that by eating the frog, the rest of the day’s tasks will seem easier by comparison, enabling you to breeze through them. It also prevents procrastination on the “frog” task—the task you’re most likely to avoid completing—by getting it out of the way first thing in the morning.
2. Block out times to work on difficult tasks
We have no problem scheduling times for meetings, breaks, conference calls, etc. during the workday. Why not schedule time to complete a difficult task? Master this productivity hack by estimating how many hours the task will take you, then blocking out that many hours to work only on that task. Make sure that time is free of meetings, calls or other obligations. If you have a hard time working on the same task for too many hours and find your productivity dwindling, break the time into shorter blocks.
3. Put notifications on snooze
We live in an age of constant pings, pop-ups, flashing lights and other signals alerting us we have a new message to read, whether we’re at our desk or out and about. These notifications are helpful for getting a hold of someone on the go or eliciting a quick response, but they can also be incredibly distracting and disruptive—two things that hinder maximizing your productivity.
The simple solution? Snooze your notifications. It may not be possible at all times, but during tasks that require your undivided attention, turning off notifications on your desktop and mobile devices can be a huge help. It’s also wise—not to mention polite—to turn them off during meetings. You’ll be amazed by how much it improves your concentration and productivity.
4. Check emails only during certain times of day
Like notifications, email in general can be a powerful distractive force. It’s all too easy to be making headway on a task only to be diverted by a single email. It’s not practical to avoid checking work email all day, but it’s also not the best idea to be checking it every minute of every hour.
Try checking your email only during certain times of day, or after a certain amount of time has passed since you last checked it. You’ll avoid losing your focus or being driven away from your current task by an email calling your attention elsewhere. If someone really needs you for something, they’ll find another way to reach you.
5. Use a productivity app
There’s an app for almost anything, including productivity maximization. Whether you need a tool for creating lists, prioritizing tasks, organizing your files or taking notes, you’ll find a productivity app that helps you do so. There are also “distraction-killing” apps, like Hemingwrite, StayFocused or Concentrate, designed to keep you from straying from the task at hand. Go on your phone’s app store and browse the Productivity section for whatever suits your goals.
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