You’re a busy gal. On any given day, you’re working on your side hustle, planning your next volunteer trip, and hosting a dinner party — which is to say nothing about your nine-to-five. You’ve got a lot to do every day, and it often feels like you don’t have enough time to do it. It’s a common stressor (and probably why meditation apps are so popular right now!) and one that seems impossible to truly conquer. While we’ll probably always feel a little overwhelmed by our to-do lists, there are lots of easy, effective, and life-changing productivity hacks that’ll help us get through any time crunch sitch. Read on for 10 of our favorites.
The Big One: Live by the “Touch It Once” Rule
The premise is simple, but the payoff is enormous — any time an actionable task comes across your desk or inbox, you do the thing, right then and right there. By immediately handling the task, you’re cutting down on clutter and the guilt-ridden procrastination cycle (you know, when you put off doing something, which makes you feel guilty, which makes you put it off longer), while simultaneously freeing up precious space and time for other things.
Of course, not everything that comes your way can be done ASAP (that 40-page report may require some extra time), so this hack works best for smaller tasks, like responding to a clarification email or RSVPing to a party. The TIO rule works for household tasks too, like putting dishes immediately into the dishwasher (“soaking” isn’t a thing when you’re not hand-washing, y’all), putting dirty clothes in the hamper rather than on the floor, and throwing away junk mail as soon as you come in the door.
And 9 More for a Bonus Boost
1. Enroll in a productivity class (you know, in your free time). Develop a mission statement (yes, really), create goals, and write to-do lists all in the name of productivity with our How to Boost Your Productivity class with Maxie McCoy and Levo. You’ll develop practical, easy daily tools to maximize your time management and learn how to stop procrastinating — all in a 42-minute online class!
2. Live that planner life. A to-do list fosters productivity in two ways — one, it keeps you on track and on time, and two, it creates a sense of accomplishment that motivates you to do even more. In fact, we love making lists in our daily planners so much, we decided to make our own! You can find our super-customizable Brit + Co planners at Target — you can choose from daily, weekly, and monthly calendar pages, dry erase pages, coloring-book pages, and lots of accessories to make your crossing-off even more creative.
3. Take a minute to meditate. Literally — if you can only take 60 seconds to do a deep-breathing exercise, do it! Grounding yourself in the present and taking time to check in with your body (are you slouching, holding your jaw, hunching your shoulders?) will make you feel immediately more energized and focused. We’re huge fans of the Headspace app and love the longer meditations for our commutes and lunch breaks.
4. Keep your space clean. Cluttered desk, cluttered mind — if that’s not a saying already, it should be. It’s hard to feel focused and productive when your desk is a disaster zone and you’ve just spent 10 minutes looking for a single piece of paper. Try keeping your desk area neat and tidy, with papers filed and to-go coffee cups in the trash. We suggest taking a few minutes every Friday to wipe down your desk and computer so your Monday morning starts off extra-sparkly.
5. Notifications are no more. You know that little burst of adrenaline you get every time you get a notification that someone “liked” your latest Insta post of your morning latte? Well, it’s killing your productivity. So are those news alerts, Facebook notifications, and weather updates. Trying turning off your phone’s notifications while you’re busy so you’re not tempted to open your phone every eight minutes. You’ll stay focused on work, and your friends can wait (we promise).
6. Take a walk. With that said, we all have limits to our attention spans. If you force yourself to work for hours without a single break, you’ll slowly start to see your productivity decline (and your errors increase). Schedule in a 15-minute walk for yourself every couple of hours for a mini mental vacation. It’s also a fantastic way to physically re-energize yourself if you’re feeling that midday sleepy slump.
7. There’s an app for that. Try using a productivity-enhancing app to keep yourself on task. We’re partial to Evernote for its simple, easy layout that allows you to jot down, organize, and share your thoughts in an organized, straightforward way. There are lots of others out there though, and science has even confirmed that these apps do help with people’s productivity!
8. Stay centered. If you can swing it, try keeping your mornings as routine-y and low vibes as possible — give yourself the time you need to get centered before diving into your daily to-do. A morning ritual for yourself will train your brain to anticipate major productivity time once you’ve made your coffee and scrolled through Instagram. Answering emails while brushing your teeth or editing a proposal while making breakfast will only lead to misspellings and burnt bagels (major boo to both).
9. Tackle the hardest tasks first. Prioritize your daily tasks from hardest to easiest. Sure, it’s no fun to spend your morning poring over confusing spreadsheets, but most of us are more alert and engaged first thing (it’s called the 3pm slump and not the 11am crash for a reason), which means you’ll get those tough tasks done more efficiently and with less brain power. You’ll feel great after lunch knowing the hard work is behind you, so you can focus on less immediate projects without pressure.
Do you have a go-to productivity hack that keeps you on time and on task? Tweet us @BritandCo and spill your secrets!
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(Photos via Getty and Brit + Co)