Productivity Hacks For Getting Things Done
As it’s wellness month on hoylesfitness.com, I thought I’d share something I employ on a daily basis – productivity hacks.
I know everyone says their life is busy, but my life is busy. My working day can start as early as 6.00am and it regularly doesn’t finish until 9.30pm. On top of that I run my blog, I do my own exercise and have the admin that comes with a business.
When I’m not at work, it’s family time. I have a girlfriend and two young boys which means there’s very rarely a day without a plan or something to do. A ‘lazy’ day is almost non-existent in my world – the kids just wouldn’t allow it!
With mental pressure and overwhelm being one of the major causes of stress nowadays, these productivity hacks may help you get a grip of your workload, your stress levels and in turn, your mental health.
Seven Productivity Hacks I Use Daily….
No Extra Time (NET Principle)
The NET principle is something I heard about when listening to an Anthony Robbins seminar a long time ago. It’s basically batching tasks, which is so much easier in the age of smart phones – now I read and answer emails in queues, make phone calls when on a walk, listen to podcasts whilst cooking etc.
It allows you to get a lot done in a short amount of time, cutting your admin time dramatically. For these reasons, it’s one of the main productivity hacks I use.
Use ‘Quiet’ Windows
We all get windows of time in our week where we could get things done, no matter how busy we are. Where possible, I use these times. Whether its making notes for projects, updating social media, managing my inbox etc. I try to use these windows.
A client may be running 5 minutes late, or I might have had a cancellation. If I have my phone, laptop or iPad nearby I can get cracking on some work in the free time I have.
The picture above is quite an old one, but it’s something I do a lot – if the weather is nice and I would go for a lie down, I’d take my laptop with me and get something useful done at the same time!
Say NO More
When I first started out in business, I said ‘yes’ to everything. I wrote for people for free to help get my name ‘out there’, I did the fitness work for sports clubs for free, I accepted really shitty deals to train people for free (in return for a free advert in a tiny local magazine) – you live and learn though. I learnt that by saying ‘no’, I’d free up time for worthwhile activities.
Now, I don’t do anything I don’t want to. I say no to literally dozens of reviews and content requests per month and always keep at least 1 day per week totally free from work so I can spend quality time with my family.
Draw Up Lists
I use lists all of the time – at any given moment I will have at least a couple of lists on the go – usually one on my phone and at least one in my office. I like lists because they serve two purposes…
- They are a visual reminder of what you need to do.
- They are a visual reminder of what you have managed to do.
If like me you are balancing any number of tasks and projects at one go, lists are a life-saver. Even more important for me, given I have a sieve-head!
I used to work with a bloke who, despite being a great guy, was a nightmare to work with because he was just so chaotic. He never had a list written down so he’d be flicking back and forth on various tasks, never completing any of them. If he used lists as one of his productivity hacks he would have been more focussed and effective.
Preparing food and cooking takes a long time. By the time you have thought about what you want to eat, bought it, prepared it and cooked you have used up quite a lot of time. That’s fine if you aren’t busy, but if time is short you could do with defrosting something you’ve cooked earlier.
That’s where batch-cooking comes in. When you are cooking, simply up the quantities of the ingredients and freeze what you don’t need to use with the first meal. It’s a great way of ensuring you reduce your cooking time and are never caught without a good-quality, healthy meal even when you are busy.
Given eating is a daily task, this productivity hack could give you hours back every week.
Remove Yourself From Distraction
I have a home office where I get most of my admin work done. Occasionally though, I have to get out to a local coffee shop or similar because the house can be too distracting – I may be tempted to do a job downstairs or the boys may be playing loudly (as is their right!).
Removing yourself from distraction is a way to ensure you get a lot done and it’s a trick I empty regularly if I find myself becoming side-tracked on a task. You have to be disciplined to recognise when you need to remove yourself from an environment that might be fun but not work-friendly. If you can achieve this though, it’s one of the most effective productivity hacks there is.
Make a Plan
Every Sunday I spend half an hour or so setting my diary and my lists for the week ahead. It’s a really calming thing to do because you feel organised ahead of time, meaning you are planning rather than reacting. It means you are on the front foot and in control, which is a nice feeling to have.
Spending 30 minutes sorting my schedule out gives me back at least an extra 3 hours during my week, not to mention ensures I hit the ground running when it comes to working on tasks in the quiet windows in my day because I’ve already made lists of jobs that need doing. It means I never have to spend time scratching around wondering what to do.
These are productivity hacks I personally use and hopefully you’ll get benefit from them too. If you have any others, feel free to share them!
I’ve heard people raving about these two books too, but I haven’t read them myself. They may be worth a shout though if you are feeling overwhelmed…