Sometimes, we wish there were more hours in the day. Unfortunately, we can’t control time. What we can control is our productivity. Being cautious with how we spend our time is vital to getting more done during the day. Waking up earlier, meditating, creating daily to-do lists -- there are a number of ways to make the most out of every minute.
If you want to be more productive during your day, these simple hacks will help get you on your way.
1. Wake up an hour earlier.
Even if you don’t identify as a “morning person,” you can still become one.
By setting your alarm an hour earlier than usual (and don’t hit the snooze button!), you’ll be able to get an extra hour of uninterrupted, peaceful work time.
Several studies correlate waking up early to productivity and success. Early risers have an advantage -- they have extra work time and are more optimistic in general.
2. Make a daily to-do list.
Create a daily list of realistic tasks to tackle everyday. Keep it simple, too. Your tasks don’t need to be massive jobs that will take hours to complete. If you need to fold your laundry, add that to the list. Need to call the doctor? Add it.
These micro-tasks will not only help you get more done on a day-to-day basis, but they’ll also help you reach your bigger goals too.
3. Do the hardest tasks first.
It’s best to get those dreaded tasks out of the way first. After getting that big chunk of difficulty out of the way, the rest of your day is freed to complete everything else. Not only will you feel better, you’ll be much more productive too.
4. Clear off your desk.
As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” That can be true for staying focused too. Taking 15 minutes before work every day to clear off your desk and create a clean workspace will help you focus and avoid distractions. Trash what you don’t need and file what you do.
5. Exercise in the morning.
Go for a quick jog or do some morning yoga.
Getting a workout in in the morning is linked to a better mood and higher levels of productivity. Harvard psychiatry professor Dr. John Ratey explains that exercise is vital in reaching "high-performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs."
6. Set up a system.
Having a system of organization will give you a clear and consistent idea of the projects you have going on. This inventory of commitments will bring clarity, focus and control. It will help you know what’s most important.
7. Focus on one thing at a time.
Focus on getting one project finished before switching to the next.
People usually think that they’re getting more done by multitasking, but in reality, going back and forth from task to task isn’t beneficial. In fact, trying to perform two tasks simultaneously can actually take a toll on productivity, a study by the American Psychological Association reveals.
While most of us are guilty of talking on the phone while typing out an email -- it’s not the little tasks that deter productivity, but the larger ones. “The mind and brain were not designed for heavy-duty multitasking,” reports the study.
8. Start saying no.
Sometimes that little word is the hardest to say. But it’s OK to say it. It’s important to manage people’s expectations, so if you can’t take something on and give it 100 percent, then don’t do it at all.
9. Get enough sleep.
This one’s a given, but you’d be surprised how few people actually do get enough sleep every night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Are you getting that much?
Maybe it’s time to go to bed earlier. Sleep can make or break your productivity and well-being.
10. Keep your emails organized.
Seeing 200 unread messages in your inbox will only give you anxiety. But it’s also important you don’t overlook any important messages. Keep your inbox clean by responding, filing, drafting or deleting an email immediately after you’ve opened it.
11. Shut off social media.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the outside world and avoid going on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They’ll only distract you. For people who need social media for work, make sure you’re logged out of any personal accounts so you don’t get pulled off-task.
12. Read, don’t skim.
It’s important to actually read the documents that come your way, not skim through them. Even though it doesn’t always feel this way, skimming can be more time-consuming than reading because you may skip something and have to go back.
13. Schedule chunks of uninterrupted time.
Once you get yourself focused, stay focused.
Although it’s easier said than done, a helpful way to make sure you keep your mind on track is to clear out a specified, uninterrupted time frame where you focus solely on the project at hand. Whether that means turning off your phone or closing your email, create an environment where you are free to focus on one thing -- and one thing only.
According to a study by Microsoft researchers, it takes the brain 15 minutes to re-focus after switching our attention to something else. So if you’re constantly being interrupted, it’s going to take you a long time to get your work done.
14. Put your headphones in.
Whether you want to play some tunes or not is up to you. But people are far less likely to disrupt you if they see that you’re zoned out with your headphones in.
15. Meditate before going into the office.
Take a couple minutes right when you wake up to clear your mind and meditate. According to the Art of Living Foundation, morning meditation is particularly powerful because it recharges and prepares you for the challenges that lie ahead.
16. Eliminate unnecessary meetings.
Face-to-face communication is vital in the workplace, but sometimes those long and endless meetings can be a waste of time. When scheduling any meetings, make sure they are truly necessary and whether what you plan to discuss can be handled through email or by phone.
If you do plan an in-person meeting, schedule it for 30 minutes only so it is fast and to-the-point. When people feel crunched on time, they are more likely to get to the important stuff quickly.
17. Make 60-second decisions.
If you want to get more done during your day, you’ve got to work fast. Start by cutting down the amount of time it takes you to make a decision.
Decision-making can be one of the most time-consuming tasks you do on a daily basis, so cut down on it to free up your time. You’ll likely make the same decision you would have made in 20 minutes’ time.