How many times do you check your email every day? Sure, it only takes a minute, but if you’re like many people who can’t help but take a peek every now and then, these minutes add up and take away precious time from what you really should be doing: working.
With the constant lure of the Internet and the emergence of various high-tech gadgets, it is so easy to get caught up in a lot of time-wasting activities. Such things can eat up on your productivity and make your work suffer. Worse, it can adversely affect your work-life balance, forcing you to work on rest days just because you were not able to manage your time beforehand.
10 Steps to Becoming a Productivity Master
Before you let lack of focus control your life, here are some simple hacks to bump up your productivity:
1. Prepare the night before.
Instead of hitting the sack right away, take 15 minutes off your time to prepare for the next day. It can be a simple to-do list, making sure to mark your priorities. Have your clothes for tomorrow prepared as well, rather than waste time going through your closet in the morning. If you pack your lunches, you can opt to place them in containers the night before.
2. Do the 5-minute habit.
Having a morning ritual does wonders for your productivity. Before you get to work, spend five minutes meditating or visualizing the process that you will go through to achieve your daily goals. This may not help you fulfill them, but at least it can help you to follow-through on those steps. Likewise, do a five-minute review of your work at the end of the day. Write down your accomplishments and take note of the things that you need to improve on the next working day.
3. Divide your work into manageable chunks.
Thinking about a huge project can overwhelm you, so why not break it down into mini-tasks that your brain can easily digest? If you have a deadline for a 2000-word article, set a goal of 250 words first, then take a five-minute break. This will give you a sense of accomplishment—no matter how small—and provide you with much-needed motivation to continue your humongous task.
4. Try the (10+2)*5 technique.
Created by Merlin Mann of 43Folders.com, this proven productivity hack is not really some complicated math formula that you need to solve. It simply means you need to work for 10 minutes and take a break for 2 minutes, repeating it 5 times to complete an hour. 10 minutes is too short to finish a task, so your tendency is to skip your 2-minute breaks and actually get things done.
5. Say no to multitasking.
Multitasking is one of the biggest myths ever invented. People’s brains are not wired to switch effortlessly from one task to another, so a single diversion can cause you to lose as much as 40 percent of your work. And your brain actually just gets to concentrate after 20 minutes of being immersed in a task. Do yourself a favor and remove anything that would distract you, even if it means unplugging your Internet connection.
6. Get your blood pumping.
Feeling lethargic? Get off your desk, take a walk, jog outside, and do some exercises—whatever it takes to get your blood pumping once again. These simple exercises are proven to increase productivity and give you a fresher perspective on your task at hand. On the other hand, you can also try doing power naps to refresh your brain. Just don’t oversleep.
7. Properly manage your email.
If you’re the type of person who checks his email every five minutes, just stop it. It interferes with your work and gets you distracted. Set a schedule for checking email, preferably in the afternoon once all the important work is done. You should also keep your inbox free of clutter by deleting those that you no longer need or will never read anyway.
8. Consider your environment.
Gadgets are one of the biggest distractions in the modern day era. Resist the temptation by putting your phone or tablet in silent mode and keeping them out of sight and out of mind. Also, pepper your workstation with red and blue colors, since brain performance studies show that blue sparks creativity while red increases attention to details. Use those colors to your advantage.
9. Utilize productivity tools.
Scheduling apps, timer apps, virtual notebooks—there are simply so many widgets and apps that are designed to boost your productivity. Find ways to automate repetitive tasks. Automate your appointment reminders, email responses, social posting, online form filling, etc.
10. Set rest days.
Finally, make your free day a sacred one. Don’t desecrate it by bringing work home, no matter how minuscule. Instead, use these days to relax and rejuvenate. Get a massage, spend time with your friends and family, travel with your friends—all these things can help you unwind and prevent you from getting burned out.