Productivity Hacks 101: How to Stress Less & Do More in 2023

Productivity Hacks 101: How to Stress Less and Do More in 2023

Hey there! So here you are, reading yet another blog on how to be more productive… again…

Let’s face it we all want to get more done in less time. On our “good” days, we read these essential productivity skills tips, hacks, and techniques with the best of intentions in mind. Fast forward a week or month later, and we find ourselves right back where we started. Okay, maybe not exactly, the lucky ones bought a shiny new planner or downloaded a new productivity app.

That was me years ago. Constantly starting and trying new fancy techniques and not remembering what they’re called a month later. The funny thing is, as this cycle repeated, a hundred thousand times, I distilled the ones that were able to stick and work for me. Yay! 🥳

This post summarizes all my tried and tested (and definitely failed but let’s not mention those 🤫) productivity tips. I’m sharing my best productivity hacks, so you can start using them right away to get more done with less stress and in less time.

I’ll give actionable steps on how to implement it into your routine and set you up for success. Spoiler alert, you’ll also be healthier and feel better about yourself! 

So what do you say? Let’s hit the ground running!

Key Takeaways

  • I know you’re probably all excited, which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong! But I would strongly suggest – DO NOT attempt all of these at once! Skim through, pick, and choose what speaks to you in this moment.

  • Establish a productive mindset, use positive thinking, and develop a growth mindset to maximize productivity.

  • Declutter your desk, customize your environment & prioritize tasks effectively with the Important/Urgent Matrix for better organization.

  • Leverage tech tools like AI note-takers, scheduling assistants, project management apps, and website blockers.

  • Build healthy habits such as exercise & sleep. Practice mindfulness & stress management for success!

Prioritizing and Organizing Tasks Effectively

Productivity Hacks: Prioritizing and organizing tasks effectively

Successful task sorting is important for controlling your daily activities and making sure that tasks are completed on time.

1. Important/Urgent Matrix.

Divide the items in your to do list into the important and urgent tasks. Review and ruthlessly cross anything that is neither urgent nor important. This way you are able to focus your energy on completing those vital tasks first while either delegating or ignoring less pressing ones in order to manage time more effectively.

2. Eating elephant one bite at a time

Big, complex projects can quickly become overwhelming. Avoid getting intimidated by breaking them into bite-sized pieces.

Use the project management method called “salami slicing” – divide a large task into many small steps. For example:

  • Write 10 page report → Write 1 page a day over 10 days

  • Launch a 12 month project → Break into 12 monthly milestones

Small consistent actions over time lead to big results. Progress fuels motivation.

3. Group tasks

Collect related tasks together using techniques like Kanban and engage with them first thing in the morning.

Time Management Techniques

Productivity Hacks: Time Management

4. Implement the Pomodoro Technique

To save time and maximize productivity, consider using the Pomodoro Technique.

The Pomodoro technique is one of the most popular productivity methods. It works like this:

  • Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus only on one task during that time.

  • When the timer rings, take a 5 minute break.

  • After four Pomodoros, take a longer 15-20 minute break.

Research shows this approach helps you stay focused, while regular breaks prevent mental fatigue. Aim to reduce distractions during the 25-minute Pomodoros to get into a state of intense focus or “flow”. This allows you to power through tasks efficiently.

You can either pick from a variety of Pomodoro Technique productivity apps, or even better – avoid using phone and get a fun timer!

5. Employ time-blocking

Time-blocking is a time management strategy that divides the day into different blocks of time for each task and activity, including breaks. Devoting set periods to accomplish objectives helps you to keep distractions at bay and maximizes overall productivity by keeping your concentration at optimum level.

Schedule time blocks in your calendar for deep work:

  • Block 60-90 minutes

  • Turn off notifications

  • Put up a “do not disturb” sign

  • Work in an isolated space or remote location

Doing focused work without distraction or interruption allows you to get complex projects done faster. Protecting focus time leads to greater efficiency, creativity, and problem-solving.

6. Utilize time-boxing

Time-boxing is one of my favorite techniques that allocates a fixed time period to complete a task or project rather than working on it for an unspecified duration. This helps to stay focused and work more efficiently.

To implement time-boxing:

  • Decide on a time limit for a task, such as 30 minutes or 1 hour
  • Set a timer for that duration
  • Work intensely and try to complete that task within the allotted time frame
  • Stop working when the timer goes off, even if the task isn’t finished
  • Review what you have accomplished during the time-box
  • Set a new time-box or move on to the next task

Time-boxing builds self-discipline and the ability to estimate tasks better. It brings structure, drives focus, and enables completing important work within specified limits. This boosts productivity significantly.

Leveraging Technology for Productivity

Productivity Hacks: Productivity Tech

Productivity can be increased through the use of technology. Project management, productivity apps, and website blocking tools are very useful in staying organized, on-task, and achieving more in less time.

7. AI scheduling assistants

I have a confession to make – I’m still mastering the art of planning. But the good news is that it’s much easier to do nowadays with all the apps and tools such as Google calendar or smart scheduling assistants. Planning ahead brings huge benefits when you leverage these tools.

If, like me, you’re juggling multiple tasks, deadlines, and priorities, AI scheduling assistants can help you organize your work and boost productivity by automating the planning for you. Check out Motion, it makes me feel like I have my very own personal secretary. 😎

Simply add your tasks, due dates, and working hours. It creates the schedule for you in seconds. You can accept the plan or adjust it as needed.

8. Project management tools

Project management applications like Motion, Sunsama, Trello and Asana have been developed to facilitate task scheduling, managing deadlines, and increasing team communication.

Make them part of your workflow, and I can promise you will find it easier to stay on top of your tasks. These tools also help prioritize projects which can lead to quicker accomplishment. They also make communication with your team members more clear and efficient, so that nothing falls between the cracks during critical operations or activities run within your team.

9. Note-takers

Note-takers, these guys are my favorite, whether physical or digital, I love them all! Take (aesthetic) notes, engage with them, and doodle to make them fun! These great tools are your reliable partners in learning, helping you to have a really productive time.

Capture all the info and speed up note-taking with digital tools, or improve comprehension and retention with the use of physical note-takers. Or if you just want to have a break and have some fun, check out my collection of note-taking memes 🙂

10. Implement website blockers

If you want to maximize the use of your time and ensure that tasks get completed, then website blockers such as StayFocusd or Freedom can be an effective solution. They block access to distracting websites while working in order to keep focus on work at hand which allows for greater productivity. I would strongly recommend using a blocking system if you tend drift away to that favourite YouTube channel of yours.

Get Back Your Good Night Sleep

Productivity Hacks: Get back your Good Night Sleep

You need 8 hours of sleep. Full Stop. Trust me, it’s a single, arguably the easiest thing you can do to boost your productivity and cope with your stress.

For those who disagree: There have been numerous studies proving that having less than that amount has a dramatic negative impact on your performance. It affects your cognitive performance, yes, that’s your ability to think. And btw, whatever you’re trying to learn doesn’t stick, so yeah, you’re wasting time. Let’s not forget your physical abilities – your reaction also significantly drops with each half-hour of sleep deprivation.

According to researchers at the University of Chicago, sleep loss increases ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger, by 28 percent. Not only that, experiment participants reported a surge in cravings for sweets and starchy foods (yep, all that bread, pastry, or pasta). Hurray, additional calories!

Hope we are now in agreement on the point above ☝️😉. Let’s move on.

Okay, let’s first do some self-care shopping 🛒😉. Here are the basic tips to get a good night’s sleep.

11. Buy a good mattress

Trust me on this, it’ll make a huge difference to the quality of your night’s sleep.

12. Get blackout curtains

Globe’s light pollution score has been climbing by 9.6% each year

Fresh scoop from the reputable Science mag. Scientists crunched over 50,000 data points on sky brightness from 2011 to 2022. They compared the numbers to a light pollution model.

The verdict? Our globe’s light pollution score has been climbing by 9.6% each year. Can’t fall asleep in your downtown apartment? No wonder! Get blackout curtains!

I swear by them for better sleep. It’s much easier to fall asleep in a pitch-black room. Plus, when morning rolls around, your sleep gets more shallow. It’s super easy for any bit of light to disrupt you.

13. Create a Screen-Free Zone

Multiple studies suggested that lights emitted by screens reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening – simply put, it’s harder to fall asleep as it decreases the feeling of sleepiness.

Put away all devices and screens at least an hour before going to bed. If you have a TV in your bedroom, remove it from there altogether.

14. Use night mode on your devices at night

Lots of phones and tablets have a night mode. It cuts down the blue light from the screen.

See if you can set night mode to turn on automatically at night. That way, you don’t forget. If your phone doesn’t auto-dim, turn the brightness down yourself in settings.

15. Invest in blue light-blocking glasses

Sometimes you just gotta finish work on a screen at night. It happens.

Get a pair of blue light glasses to cut down the blue light hitting your eyes. They help when you gotta be on screens at night by minimizing the blue light disrupting your body’s sleep signals.

16. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

Productivity Hacks: Create a Night Time Routine

Add wind-down time to your to-do list. Here is what mine looks like. Some nights, I write in my gratitude journal or recap my day in a diary. Reading a book for 15-30 minutes is great, too — no tablets, though – except a Kindle.

Exercise

Productivity Hacks: Exercise

17. Regular exercise

Including regular exercise in your day-to-day life has many benefits, including improved physical and mental wellbeing. Activities such as cardiovascular exercises, yoga, or other forms of activity can help alleviate stress, boost focus levels, and increase energy output.

18. Take baby steps

Start small, do only 5 minutes of stretch, core, or whatever you’re into, but do it EVERY (other) day. Small starts build real (fitness) habits.

19. Hate exercising! And what to do instead

Go for brisk walks instead of lazy strolls. I nursed an injury once and traded my runs for brisk walks, armed with hiking poles. You get similar benefits minus the joint impact. It gets your heart rate up nicely to burn fat, but not too extreme.

How about also listening to a book or a podcast? Who said juggling multiple tasks was a no-go? Now that’s real productivity!

20. Get a pedometer or smartwatch

I love using these smart fitness tech, cause it really helps me get moving!

Aim for 10K steps daily. If that’s a stretch, start at 5K and work your way up as it becomes a habit.

Food and Beverages

21. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can impair attention and long-term memory. Keep a (fancy Chilliy’s 😍) water bottle at your desk to remind you to drink up.

22. Keep lunch light

Post-lunch, I used to battle the sleep monster. My body was all in, wrestling with the heavy meal I’d piled on. The game changed with salads on my plate. If you’re in the post-lunch snooze squad, go light. You’ll stay sharp, plus it’s a no-brainer to whip up. Less food fuss, more energy. Win-win.

23. Small plates

Swap to smaller plates, and trim down the calorie load. Easy peasy.

Organizing Your Dedicated Workspace

Productivity Hacks: Design a dedicated workspace

Having an organized workspace is essential to keep on task and be effective.

24. Declutter your desk

Look at your table, what are the items that distract rather than help you focus or simply irrelevant? Found them? Now put them away. Yes, it’s that easy.

25. See above? Turn it into a routine!

Good job! Now, make the point above a habit. My desk, too, tends to grow with irrelevant items; god knows where they come from. You need to keep it pristine, fewer distractions help you to stay in productive mode. Doing it biweekly should do the job.

26. Organize your workspace

Organize your items (well, whatever is left on that desk of yours after our decluttering exercise). Desk accessories such as trays or baskets, drawer organizers and cable holders are all excellent tools for organization which make it easier to have an effective day ahead.

Customize your environment

Crafting an inviting and stimulating environment is important to maximize productivity.

27. Get yourself that office chair you dreamed of!

Invest in ergonomic pieces like chairs, keyboards and laptop stands for good physical health.

28. Adding a personal touch

Add a personal touch such as photos of your family or inspirational messages. These can encourage a sense of belongingness while doing work-related tasks.

Adding some green friends, a beautiful coffee mug or creative vision board will help you set the right mood and into your focused mode. It’s a nice way to get that additional productivity boost!

Mindfulness and Stress Management

Productivity Hacks: Mindfulness and Stress Management

Okay, there is a reason I decided to include the “How to Stress Less” phrase in the title of this post. It’s one of your worst enemies when it comes to productivity and focused work. Ah, to be completely honest, throw in there your physical and mental health too!

A 2023 study revealed that more than 50% of workers are not engaged at work as a result of stress, leading to a loss of productivity.

Look at the stats above. Are you one of them? If so, you need to start with what I call basic steps. These simple one-time actions will help to tame the beast.

29. Whip up a vision board

Toss in some cool quotes and snaps. Visualize your big wins, or just you having a blast with your pals. Basically, if it amps you up or warms your heart, slap it on there! Seeing it stirs up the good vibes, amps up self-belief, and nudges you to dive into action instead of just noodling over it.

30. Get a dog

Or cat, or something fluffy. Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.

Studies suggest that playing with a dog, cat, or other pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax. It can also help lowering blood pressure and reduce stress hormone (cortisol).

31. Can’t afford a dog? Get a plant!

Okay the one above didn’t quite stick to me, I like travelling too much, so I opted for plants instead 🪴. Get a few plants, the almost unkillable ones (like Snake Plant or Zanzibar Gem) that you don’t have water as often or perform any complicated care operations. They look pretty and lift your mood up.

Get this – a meta-study examined 42 records and showed that indoor plants are your quiet pals. Indoor plants reduce stress and make us healthier. Our focus and performance improve too.

So fill your space with greenery! Science shows plants help us to improve overall productivity!

32. Practice meditation

Incorporating meditation into your day-to-day life can have a range of positive effects, from reducing stress and tension to enhancing productivity and concentration.

It’s really not difficult at all. Here is how I do it:

First thing in the morning, I sit down in a quiet room, phone off. With my eyes closed I simply concentrate on my breaths, counting every in and out. After a few seconds my mind starts to wonder. These might be some important tasks I’ve been struggling with for the past week or other personal issues get in a way. I take a mental note of these things and simply go back to breathing.

The magic is, all the mental and physical issues that you were unaware of start to bubble up. But instead going down the thinking spiral, good or bad, you let go and come back to breathing.

I like practicing meditation for 2-3 minutes every other day or when I notice I’m struggling to stay motivated and concentrate. Regular practice helps me to check-in with myself, keep calm and maintain mental clarity.

33. Take mindful breaks

Introducing a few moments of reflection into your routine can be incredibly beneficial for your mental wellbeing and productivity. Taking these breaks allows you to step back, reset yourself mentally, helping keep specific tasks in focus and get more done.

Incorporate regular pauses throughout the day where you prioritize relaxation so that you remain energized and stay on top of all important responsibilities.

Making it part of your daily plan means ensuring that restorative moments don’t slip from priority as this will lead to improved concentration levels with better results achieved overall.

Important note: a mindful break is the one without phone, tablet or any other screen. Go water your newly purchased plant or something.

34. Develop a growth mindset

Did you know that failure is an absolutely necessary component in learning, growth and success?

“Every winner begins as a loser,” says Dashun Wang, associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management who conducted an extensive study into the role of failure in success. He even calls failure “the essential prerequisite for success”!

Take on challenges, reframe failure into an opportunity to learn and develop, and strive for improvement. This frame of mind encourages you to confront problems head-on, persist through adversity, and discover chances for progress.

Overcoming Procrastination

Productivity Hacks: Overcoming Procrastination

35. Set realistic goals

Take the time to assess tasks, prioritize them, and set realistic deadlines. These simple steps will help you to be productive while avoiding procrastination. It is important that your goals are achievable. It creates a sense of urgency, helps you stay focussed on goals, and ensures that work gets done on time.

I like to review and adjust my timetables frequently. Things change, reflect that in your plan and bulletproof it for task completion.

36. Use If-Then plans to outsmart procrastination

When you catch yourself wasting time, self-talk often isn’t enough to change behavior. Try If-then planning to outsmart your brain.

If-then planning links a specific situation to a desired action. For example:

  • If it’s Monday morning, then I’ll spend one hour on the weekly report.

  • If I start feeling tired in the afternoon, then I’ll take a 15-minute walk.

By predicting the situation and planning the desired response, you can avoid procrastination.

Communication and Collaboration

Productivity Hacks: Communication and Collaboration

To increase efficiency, it is vital to ensure a successful work setting through proper communication and collaboration. Making use of group messaging applications along with scheduling periodic meetings will assist in synchronizing tasks among the team while optimizing productivity at the same time.

Let’s investigate how improved interaction and cooperation can raise output for you as well as your crew members.

37. Utilize team messaging apps

Team messaging apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams enable faster interaction, file exchange, and teamwork for people in a group. Having these applications integrated into daily operations can help optimize communication processes and improve team productivity overall.

But note that for the very same reasons these collaboration tools can do more harm. I hate being constantly bombarded with messages asking me to follow on different tasks. Jeeez, it’s hard to get anything done, let alone concentrate on a single task! 🤯

So, use them with caution. Don’t let the tools dictate what your next focus should be. Create a detailed working plan allocating the specific time slots to check on the messages. I like silencing all the messages during my focus time to really concentrate on individual tasks.

38. Schedule regular check-ins

Checking in with team members on a regular basis is crucial to ensure effectiveness, address any worries or issues that may arise and offer assistance.

Scheduling regular check-ins builds trust and facilitates open communication within the team. It’s also helpful to create clear agendas, come prepared, and follow up with meeting summary notes outlining decisions, action items, and next steps. This keeps everyone aligned on what was discussed and their responsibilities moving forward.

Another bonus of having a regular conversation with your team is having less “urgent” messages popping up and disrupting you in your productive mode. Set aside time regularly for such interactions and stay on top of the team progress.

Final Thoughts and Tips

I struggled to stay focused and productive, I still do at times. But now that I tried, tested and made the productivity techniques shared above part of my routine it is much easier. I hope you found some new, maybe even fun productivity hacks and willing to give them a try!

The goal was to share my best productivity hacks with you, so you enjoy, rather than struggle to stay focused and productive. Try integrating just a few of these simple but powerful productivity hacks into your daily work routine. Start with just 1-2 new techniques that resonate with you.

As these become habits, layer in additional hacks. Before long, you’ll be working smarter and accomplishing more than you ever thought possible. 🌟

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best productivity hack?

For optimal productivity, use time blocking, set aside focus time on your calendar, get a goal tracking app, label tasks by importance and avoid multitasking.

Take breaks, wake up early, have a dedicated workspace and work near natural light for an extra productivity boost.

What can I do to increase my productivity?

Increase your productivity by condensing your daily to-do list, aiming for quality over quantity, implementing a time management strategy, taking advantage of apps, understanding your prime time, decreasing interruptions, sleeping enough, getting up early, exercising, planning meals in advance, eating breakfast, drinking water, setting small objectives, using the two-minute rule, and focusing on the hardest tasks first.

How can I maintain focus throughout the day?

Utilizing the Pomodoro Technique, taking mindful breaks during your day and employing website blockers can help you stay focused and maintain concentration. These methods will ensure that focus is kept throughout the entire day.

What are some effective ways to prioritize tasks?

To prioritize tasks, the Important/Urgent Matrix should be used to decide which are most important and time sensitive. Splitting larger jobs into smaller ones will make it easier to manage them effectively. This process ensures that you tackle your duties in an orderly manner.

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