I want to talk about workday productivity hacks that ACTUALLY help us save time and get more done (with less effort). I’m sort of an efficiency freak and crave finding new ways to achieve more in less time. (Hello, Enneagram 3, it’s me!!!)
While we all have the same amount of hours in the day, I don’t believe we need to spend a majority of those hours working our tails off in order to be successful. In fact, if we can just hone in on our tasks at hand and really learn to focus in on one thing at a time, we’d be able to check more off our list with fewer distractions, less wasted time, and way less stress, too.
But… easier said than done. If you’re like, oh, I don’t know, every other human being on this planet, you’ve probably found yourself accidentally multitasking. (Even that word—which, yes, means accidentally multitasking and, yes, I totally made up—is multitasking.)
Ever found yourself watching TV and scrolling Instagram? Or checking email while talking on the phone? How about pausing a work task in order to “quickly” wrap up something else?
Ugh. Guilty on all counts, over here. So while I might be obsessed with efficiency, I’m still working on the actual mastering part of it. Baby steps! That’s all any of us can commit to. Baby steps.
6 workday productivity hacks to steal
Here are 6 practices I try my darndest to incorporate into my workweek in order to maximize my time (so I can actually enjoy myself when I do unplug).
01. Take productivity power breaks.
Uh-huh, breaks can actually HELP you be more productive. And we all said amen! A study conducted by the US Army Research Institute discovered that people had better focus and more energy for longer periods of time when they worked for 90 minutes followed by 15 to 20-minute breaks.
So… that doesn’t mean work ‘til you’re cross-eyed and then take an Instagram-scroll break until you feel guilty enough to get back to work. These are intentional, time-focused work periods and break periods. Utilize the timer on your phone if you can’t keep track naturally (which, who can?!).
If you’re unable to focus after a break, try some form of movement during your non-work time. Increased blood flow to your brain can help restore focus. Push-ups, anyone?
02. Start and close your week with a brain dump.
You know when you can’t fall asleep because you keep thinking of random things you don’t want to forget about? The same thing happens with our focus. At the very beginning and the very end of your workweek, write down a big list (aka, a dump) of everything on your mind that you want to get done that week (or the following week).
When we have untamed thoughts about what we need or want to get done spiraling through our brains, we have a way harder time honing our focus in on ONE task in front of us. Get your ideas out of your head and trust that they are somewhere where you can visit them again. This can release the thoughts to free up your mind before you start taking action.
03. Organize your to-dos by day.
Anyone else get overwhelmed on Mondays when a whole week of projects and tasks are staring at you? It sometimes feels like if you don’t kick off the week with a bang and get a TON of stuff done on Monday, you’re behind and going to be playing catch up for the rest of the week. (Or is it just me?)
Instead, start the week by dropping everything you need to get done into a list, Google Doc, or project management platform (we love Monday.com!) and then assign each task to a day of the week. This will help diminish the feeling of overwhelm and visually validate the time you have to accomplish them.
If you get the “Sunday Scaries,” do this on Sunday to have a general plan mapped out for your week. It’s a great reassurance when I see a stack of tasks that typically give me that overwhelmed feeling that actually fit into my week, and I can visually see that I have PLENTY of time to accomplish them.
04. Increase single-task focus.
Block out a period of time to focus on one task at a time (otherwise known as batch-working or monotasking). Researchers from Microsoft revealed that “our need to immediately answer texts, and emails hinder high-level thinking.” When we’re switching back and forth between things, our brain can’t keep up and we actually do EVERYTHING slower, even though we trick ourselves into believing we’re getting more done. The goal here is to eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Things you can try:
- Close those computer tabs! Especially email, Slack, or others that notify you. Try keeping just one tab open per one task you are actively trying to complete.
- Listen to non-verbal music. Something about chill, instrumental music keeps the brain engaged without being distracting.
- There are other apps out there that are awesome, like Centered (helps to stay on task, monitors your computer screen, and says things like “Looks like you’ve lost focus…” if you open another tab) or Forest (rewards you for not opening or touching your phone for an extended period of time, plus you are rewarded by growing a fake tree in the app and can plant REAL trees on the planet with it!).
05. Break tasks up into smaller steps.
When you accomplish a task, your brain chemicals change and you get a boost of dopamine (the happy hormone!). Accomplishing a step is like a small reward, and it literally makes you *want* to start whatever’s next. When you’re working on larger tasks or projects, write down the micro-tasks needed to achieve them. That way, you can chug away and check off your list even when you complete small things, keeping you feeling productive and so much happier.
06. Prioritize your sleep.
Ahhh, sleep. Now this is a workday productivity hack I can always get behind. Sleep is prime cleaning time for your brain, and research shows that being sleep-deprived makes you less efficient in your work.
Try getting 7 to 8 hours a night so that you’re fully rested and ready to take on the day. Also work to incorporate a calming bedtime routine that winds you down for restful sleep each evening, and avoid screens for an hour before you go to bed. Napping for 15-20 minutes during the day can also boost your productivity (I’m the napping queen, so I’m totally on board with this!).
Woooo, feeling ready to tackle your week? Same, sister. I love how simple but effective these 6 workday productivity hacks are, and I can’t wait to see how they improve your own habits.