Last post I asserted that a simple way to create a joyful life was to identify your big why. Given the emails and social media comments I’ve received, this is a topic that really resonated with y’all.
I’m a huge believer in purposeful living.
So, this week I’m kicking things up a notch. Now that you’re clear on the why, let’s talk about the how. Try one of these 15+ killer productivity hacks to rev up your momentum:
- Turn Off Alerts It's terribly tough to get into your Zen zone when your phone is buzzing every few minutes. Depending on how chatty your phone is, you may get notifications for everything from emails to retweets. It's essential you shut these notifications off! Trust me, you'll see efficiency skyrocket once you tell your phone to shut its blabbering mouth.
- Exercise in the Morning Research shows that exercising in the morning can greatly improve your productivity. Exercise energizes rather than exhausts you, contrary to what the couch potatoes might tell you. (Not that I'm judging. I can be very spud-tacular myself at times.) Exercising also promotes good health (quick, alert the press!), and some studies have shown that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours following your workout. Less stress, more efficiency — it’s definitely worth setting that alarm earlier.
- Have 30-Minute Meetings Whoever invented the one-hour default in calendar software wasted millions of people-hours. The truth is that most meetings never need more than 30 minutes to accomplish their missions. Many really only need 15 minutes. Don't be a calendar-default deadbeat.
- Drink Water Most of us don't drink nearly as much water as we should. Our bodies thrive on water, just like the rest of the world! Increasing your water intake gives you more energy, keeps you healthy, and offers you an excuse to get up for bathroom breaks so you're not stuck in a chair all day (which is ridiculously unhealthy too, so you're killing two birds with one water bottle).
- Give Yourself a Break, Lady! You work hard--you deserve a break! Maybe with a Kit Kat, maybe with a cup of tea, maybe with a walk in the park. It's easy to burn yourself out if you try to work at full throttle all day long. The truth is that our minds just aren't designed to work that way. For optimal productivity, try the popular and praised Pomodoro technique--work for 25 minutes, then give yourself a five-minute break.
- Don't Be Afraid to Say No This one is a pretty standard productivity tip, but it makes the rounds for a reason — when you're too eager to please, you often end up getting in over your head. Remember, it's not simply a matter of being agreeable — when you take on too much, all your work suffers. You may end up missing deadlines, and despite good intentions, you could end up disappointing others when you are unable to meet the extraordinary expectations you've created for yourself. Sometimes you just have to say no, and there's nothing wrong with that.
- Make the Most of Lost Hours Depending on your commute, you may spend hours driving to and from work in your car. Those hours don't have to be wasted--consider scheduling calls in the morning that you can take during your drive to work. Subscribe to popular industry podcasts and listen to them on the way home. Stuck waiting at the boarding gate before a flight? Catch up on industry news and articles. Make the most of those previously wasted hours.
- Silence Your Inner Perfectionist New college grads still try to pass off perfectionism as the ultimate worst-trait-that-isn't-really-a-bad-trait in interviews, but it's time to recognize that being a perfectionist really is a dangerous deal. Yes, a single piece of work can always be better, but what are you sacrificing by laboring over slight improvements? Do the best you can do in a reasonable amount of time, and then stop. Your inner perfectionist can be helpful, but it also needs to be kept in check.
- Out With To-Dos, In With Scheduling Have you ever had that to-do item that simply wouldn't disappear? It hovers at the bottom of the list or scratched in the corner, petulantly scowling at you for days, weeks, even months! As more time passes, you feel even less inclined to give it attention. Scheduling requires you to be realistic about what you can get done. It makes you seriously sit down and consider your available time and what specific slots you can designate to completing certain tasks in a given day. To-dos are pipe dreams. Scheduling is a game plan. Studies show that even scheduling free time can be rewarding and can result in better quality of time spent
- Begin With Brussels Sprouts Brussels sprouts have traditionally been the vegetable reviled by children across the country (although now that roasting is in, their reputation is improving). The truth is that you'll enjoy the meat & potatoes much more if you eliminate the sprouts first. The same is true for productivity — eliminate your least favorite tasks right off the bat, and you'll find the rest of your day to be more pleasant and productive.
- Follow The Two-Minute Rule The general productivity consensus is that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, you should finish it immediately. Whether that means responding to an email or confirming a doctor's appointment, get those small (but often weighty-feeling) tasks done, rather than let them collect and snowball.
- Verbal Commitments It's easy to break a promise to yourself, but it's much harder to break a commitment you've made to another person. Words have weight and power — make vows to friends (and ask them to hold you accountable), and you may find it easier to keep commitments you wouldn't necessarily hold yourself to.
- Get Your Sleep On Another tried-and-true classic--you absolutely need sleep if you want to be productive. Sometimes you might feel that if you only stayed up a few hours later, you'd get more done, but major sleep loss will ruin the entire following day. In fact, losing one night's sleep is cognitively equivalent to being over the alcohol limit. Equipment needs to be properly cared for to work correctly. Your brain is no different! Getting a good night's sleep of seven to eight hours is mandatory, not optional.
- Sign In on Sunday (Just for a Minute) Sunday is definitely a day for relaxing, but if you're overwhelmed come Monday morning, logging in briefly Sunday evening may help you alleviate some of that Monday mania. You don't need to make calls or even answer emails — simply assess what your Monday game plan will be, and you'll sleep a little more soundly.
- Make Bad Habits Harder Sometimes the best way to break a bad habit is to make things incredibly difficult for yourself. If you hate that you watch too much TV, keep the remote control in the upstairs closet. If you can't help but surf the Web when you need to be focusing on a blog post, disconnect your Wi-Fi for a bit. While the extreme lengths you take to avoid certain habits can seem excessive, once those habits are broken it will be well worth the struggle.
- Make Sure Your Goals Are Realistic Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself sets you up for failure. Don't be afraid to start with baby steps and work up from there. If you want to be an Excel master, start by trying to learn just one new Excel tip a day. If you want to run a marathon, start by getting out for a run a few days a week. Your goals shouldn't be lofty ideals you never plan on reaching--they should be real and attainable. Once you meet your goals, create new ones that raise the bar a bit higher.
- Stay Joyful! A positive outlook goes a long way toward keeping you happy, healthy, and productive. Count your blessings, seek out the silver linings, and demand your joy.