Whether you’re working in an office, starting a new business or just trying to make the most of your summer, being productive and avoiding distractions isn’t always easy.
The constant phone, social media and email checks can definitely get you off task and waste valuable time.
But don’t worry — we’ve got your back. Today we’re sharing some of the best tried-and-true productivity tips that’ll help you get more done in less time. Ready to hack your life? Let’s go:
Prioritize your tasks.
Not all tasks are created equal, but we sometimes give more time to things that aren’t so important. Spend a little extra time at the front end of your day by creating a prioritized list, so that you’re not wasting time by wading through tasks without a plan. One way to do this is to use Sean Covey’s prioritization matrix, where you divide your tasks into categories:
#1 important and urgent
#2 important but not urgent
#3 not important and urgent
#4 not important and not urgent
According to Covey, you should focus most of your energy on the important but not urgent tasks.
Go on airplane mode.
Even if you’re not in flight, the airplane mode of your phone can be a lifesaver when it comes to staying on task. Keep notifications and messages from distracting you, and decrease your temptation to check social media every five minutes. Airplane mode is also a great way to save battery life and will help your phone charge faster if it’s plugged in. Feeling extra brave? Turn it off completely and let it rest for a few hours!
Become a list-master.
We’ve all heard of to-do lists, but there are many different kinds of lists you can make to up your productivity game. Keep a notepad on hand to jot down random things you remember throughout your day (like getting your car washed or picking up groceries), create a list of projects to work on once you’ve finished all your tasks for the day, and keep a working list of possible things to do during your breaks.
Mute your inbox.
Unless you’re waiting on an urgent email, consider closing your inbox while you work on an important project, only checking it at designated times throughout the day. Otherwise, you might be tempted to read every email as soon as it hits your inbox, which could negatively impact your focus and creativity.
Take a walk outside.
A recent Stanford study found that walking can increase creativity by up to 60% compared to sitting down, while another study from the University of Michigan discovered that people who went out to a nature setting saw a 20% improvement in concentration. Put both findings to use by taking a walk outside during your lunch break or running an errand after you’ve been at your desk for a few hours.
Limit your choices.
Research shows that having more choices actually decreases happiness — and wastes time. Focus on discovering the things you truly love and limit yourself to those for the days when you don’t have a lot of extra time. Meal prep and capsule wardrobes aren’t just Pinterest gimmicks. Preparing a few lunches ahead of time to have on hand during the week and culling your closet down to just the essentials can be life-changing improvements to your routine. Not having to devote as much mental energy to these small choices will help you focus on the things that really matter.
Use computer shortcuts.
Did you know there are tons of shortcuts that can make your work on a Mac or PC easier? Brush up on some keyboard shortcuts that’ll help you switch between windows, delete files or open new programs in a fraction of the time. Also consider reviewing those old MIS notes to make your projects on Microsoft Word or Excel a breeze!
Look at cute baby animal pictures.
Yes, you read that right. A study performed in Japan found that people who viewed images of cute animals performed significantly better — up to 45% better — at tasks that required high concentration and attention to detail. So go ahead and Google images of kittens or puppies instead of checking Facebook or Instagram during that study break. It’ll probably make you a lot happier, too.
By Priscilla Aceves