8 Ways to Hack Your Productivity at Work
You spend a third of your day working. This time can be spent dutifully doing your work, feeling more and more drained with every passing hour until you arrive home exhausted and wanting nothing more than to collapse on your couch.
Or you can spend this time as a productive beast, accomplishing more than ever before while still being able to return home with energy to spare.
Maximizing your work habits allow you to be a better worker turning out more output while feeling less burnout. A few simple tweaks to how you go about your work can make all the difference. Follow these tips for hacking your productivity at work.
1. Eat a Live Frog.
Mark Twain once said, “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Apply this wisdom to how you structure your work day. Tackle the least desirable task first. You need to do it eventually, and you know it will hang over your head stressing you out until it gets done. When you take care of it first, the rest of your day instantly becomes less dreadful. You will also feel a boost of motivation at accomplishing that dreaded task, which can power you through your next project.
2. Don’t Start Your Day with an Email Check.
This is one of the hardest bad work habits to break. But you are most “fresh” right in the morning. Use that clear thinking and motivation to get a big project done, not scroll through emails that can be addressed later in the day.
3.Write Everything Down.
When you try to keep track of your to-do list in your head, it drains valuable mental energy. You feel on edge, hoping you do not forget whatever important task you logged away in your brain. Writing down your to-do list frees up your brain and can help you feel less stressed seeing your project list in black and white.
4. Embrace the Pomodoro Method.
This time management technique changes how you perceive work. Usually, people sit down at their desks and think about working for several hours on end until their lunch break. The Pomodoro method changes work from an endurance run to short sprints. Your day is broken up into working for 25 minutes, then taking a 5-minute break. Do this four times and then take a longer 15-3o minute break. The regular breaks proactively fight burnout and the shorter time spans of work allow you to be more focused.
5. Take Advantage of “Lost” Hours.
Use your commute to catch up on industry related podcasts or audiobooks. Create a Feedly account and subscribe to top news and industry blogs to stay up to date on the latest trends as you wait in line at the grocery store. The time spent waiting can be time spent getting smarter so you can be more competitive at work.
6. Give Everything a Deadline.
So you got assigned a new project that needs to be done…sometime. It is easy to let this sit on the backburner as we focus on more pressing tasks. The problem is in the back of our minds, we know this task needs to be done. It weighs on our heads and drains our mental energy. Assign yourself a deadline, ideally as soon as possible, to get the project off your plate and out of your mind.
7. Eliminate, Streamline, then Delegate.
Tim Ferriss, the author of the book The Four Hour Work Week, is a big proponent of ruthlessly evaluating all of the tasks we set before ourselves. He writes, “never automate something that can be eliminated, and never delegate something that can be automated or streamlined. Otherwise, you waste someone else’s time instead of your own, which now wastes your hard-earned cash.” Take some time to see if you can eliminate anything from your workload. Maybe it’s that client who drains more time and energy than he is worth. Maybe it’s the Monday morning staff meeting that can be done with a quick email. After you eliminate, see if you can streamline any remaining processes (such as batching similar tasks). Now look at what’s left and see if you can delegate. If someone else can do it 80% as well as you, it’s recommended you pass it on.
8. Use Sound to Boost Your Focus.
If you have some monotonous tasks awaiting you, put on the headphones. Studies show music improves efficiency in repetitive tasks. When you work on a project needing your analytical and problem-solving skills, try listening to nature sounds. These can improve your cognitive functioning and ability to concentrate.
You are going to spend a significant part of your life at work. Figuring out how to work smarter, not harder can make you a better employee while feeling better by the end of the workday. Try out these techniques and you may be surprised at the difference they make.