When your productivity goes up, you get more stuff done, and when you get more stuff done, you feel a lot more accomplished. Even better, you get closer to your goals, you enjoy more success, and you feel a lot happier. Additionally, the huge, stress-inducing to-do list gets a whole lot shorter! If it were that simple, though, you wouldn’t be reading this.
The truth is that productivity evades a lot of us for different reasons. There are people who are insanely productive, and then there are people who claim small victories when they manage to get out of bed before noon.
What separates us? Most of the time, the pain of making a start outweighs the pleasure of getting stuff done. When this happens, you need to adjust your mindset — which I will show you how to do.
These are 7 productivity hacks anyone can add to their daily routine which will turbocharge your week:
1. Shrink that to-do list
First things first, you’ve got to shrink that to-do list. A huge to-do list makes us feel stressed and pressured. Sometimes, we don’t start because of the amount of stuff we have to do. Write down a list of all your tasks and separate them into three categories: High value, semi-value and no value.
Find a way to ditch or delegate the least valuable stuff, and then go through the tasks that would offer your life some value (but not loads) if you completed them. Are there any of these you can ditch? If so, ditch ‘em — or delegate them.
Cutting down your to-do list so that you’re only focusing on tasks that add value to your life, work, and your close ones, is a sure fire way of firing up your productivity levels. However, make sure to evaluate the least important tasks correctly before ditching them — sometimes there are things that you just have to do because no one else will.
2. Start saying no to people
Interestingly, even the most productive people on the planet struggle with saying no sometimes. Serial entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss recently spoke to Gary Vaynerchuk about this, and the core of what he says is true: Saying no to people matters a lot. When you stop feeling an obligation to help people and realize that saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, you suddenly have so much more time on your hands.
Saying no to people isn’t being mean. It’s simply a case of asserting yourself and letting people know what you will and won’t do. It’s about defining your boundaries and standing up for your right to be happy. Some people will think you’re being mean, but you’ve just got to deal with this.
Put yourself first when possible. Don’t feel a need to take on other people’s burdens or project their frustration and neediness onto you. You’ve already got too much of your own stuff to deal with.
Of course, there are times when you should say yes. But if there is something you really don’t want to do, have no time to do, and have no obligation to do, then don’t do it. And, no, you’re not allowed to give a “maybe” response. Just say “Sorry, can’t do it” and move on.
“Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing.” – Richie Norton
3. Eat that frog already
This is a great tip I first heard from Brian Tracy, but it’s based on a famous Mark Twain quote: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first.”
Eating frogs sounds icky and disgusting. Why would anyone want to do that?! What Twain and Tracy mean is that we all have tasks we don’t look forward to. We associate more pain with doing the task than not doing it, and so we keep putting it off.
The problem is that the horrible task won’t just go away. We have to eat the frog at some point, and knowing this causes us more stress and worry. As such, it’s much better to eat the frog in the morning because it’s rewarding to get on with your day knowing that the most difficult task has already been completed.
In other words, do the hardest task first in the AM. All of a sudden, you’ll have a song in your heart because the rest of the day doesn’t look so bad.
4. Keep your “Why” in mind at all times
Discovering what motivates us helps to keep us on track with our goals. What’s the real reason you don’t stay productive? Perhaps you were super productive last Tuesday, but decided to be lazy on Wednesday and Thursday.
A lot of us are like this. We experience a major high where we get lots of stuff done and make a Facebook post about being productive, before lying in bed all of the next day.
It’s usually because we don’t have a strong enough why. Higher purposes and goals are so important for sustained productivity, otherwise, we’ll just ask ourselves, “What’s the point? Why are we working so hard when we could just be chilling?” Define your “Why” for yourself once and for all. If you know why you want to do stuff and keep reminding yourself of it, you’ll be much more motivated to stay on track.
5. Take a 20 minute nap each day
The late afternoon tiredness is real. However, rather than call it quits at 6 PM because your focus is dwindling, take a nap so that you can go for longer. Anyone who isn’t a napper might raise an eyebrow at this, but that’s okay. However, from now on you should consider joining the 20 Minute Nap Club (it’s free).
Studies have shown that a brief cat nap boosts short-term alertness. If you put your head down for 20 minutes during the afternoon, you get to restore your energy levels so that you can get more stuff down without losing focus. If you are still not convinced then start with a 20-minute relaxing meditation. This works, I swear.
You’ll need a nap if you wake up early. As well as having the time to get more stuff done, waking up early also gives you a psychological boost. While everyone else is still in bed snoozing, you’re up and being productive. From experience, that feels great, and it gives you an edge. Night owls, fret not: even 15 minutes earlier tomorrow will do the trick.
“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” – Lemony Snicket
7. Work weekends
Technically, this is one for the weekends, but it still counts. Few people, especially those who work 9-5, want to be told that they should be working weekends. But the thing is that, if you see the weekend as precious time where you refuse to do any sort of work whatsoever because sports/cocktails/friends/family/tequila comes first, your tasks really will start to pile up.
Chill time on the weekend is important, and it’s super important that you connect with friends and family, but don’t be a massive stickler on this. If you’ve got a two-hour window on Sunday where all you’ll be doing is lying on the sofa or catching up on a box set, use this time to get some stuff done. You’ll feel productive, and it will save you a major headache during the week.
These are seven radical productivity hacks you should implement into your daily routine. Some of them will seem hard at first, but no one said being productive was easy and that’s the reason many of us fail at it! However, the more often you incorporate these into your daily routine, the easier things will become.