9 productivity hacks for working smarter in 2020
January is over. You’ve kicked off your initiatives for 2020 and business is looking good. As a result it can be the busiest time of the year and critical for early momentum.
Take a look at these 9 productivity hacks to ensure you get a headstart without a headache.
1. Use the pomodoro technique
Even the best in the game can struggle with time management as sometimes your usual systems are simply not good enough to stay on top of everything. The pomodoro technique could be the answer!
The pomodoro technique is a method of time management, developed in the 80’s and has been tried and tested by many in a variety of settings. Currently it is even used in software design for incremental development projects.
The method is based on simply splitting your tasks up and assigning each of them a 25-minute time slot. Set yourself a timer and concentrate solely on that task. After 25 minutes is done, have a break!
This is a great way to split your tasks down into manageable chunks and once it becomes habit, it’s a genius way of making the most of your time.
2. Speed up your typing and use shortcuts
We are all addicted to computers and technology, and while there are many downsides, they largely make our lives much easier. There are a ton of shortcuts for typing, switching between programs and controlling the formatting on your documents.
For example, jump through your text using the Shift + arrow keys, find words and phrases you want using Control + F, easily fix mistakes with the undo and redo shortcuts — Control + Z and Control + Y — and save your document using Control + S so you never lose your work! And if you’ve already mastered these tips, here are some more keyboard shortcuts to help you speed up your processes.
Try practising your touch typing in your downtime, stressing the use of all your fingers, not just two. Touch typing is known to be the fastest way to type.
It might take some effort to learn, but afterwards, you will never go back to the two-finger tango again!
3. Manage your net
Have a look at your browser right now. How many tabs do you have open? Multitasking can be great for some but for most it can hamper productivity severely, and spotting tabs in your browser that remind you of another outstanding task are a number one distraction.
Maybe try some tab management apps like One Tab. They filter all your tabs down into a handy list so they don’t slow your browser or clutter your space. You can even use Control + Tab to more easily cycle through the tabs you have open, making it quicker to switch between tabs and find what you want.
4. Listen to productive music or sounds
This one is different for everyone… sounds that work for one person may not work for another. For example, some can’t concentrate while listening to music with lyrics, but need general background noise to help them concentrate. In fact, there’s even science behind the use of background noise.
Experiment with different genres and types of music. In fact, it may not even be music — some people work best to colour noise, such as white noise. Apps such as Brain.fm and SimplyNoise provide ambient sounds and colour noise to help you focus. Classic, lo-fi and video game soundtracks all have benefits for concentration. So just find what works best for you.
5. Utilise the power of transcription
So much time can be wasted diligently writing down and typing up meeting notes. If you have a meeting, instead of writing notes yourself, record it and use a transcription service. There are many out there with some offering detailed notes in place of a word-for-word transcript, meaning that you save time by getting all the detail without the off-topic chit-chat.
Some transcription services even have apps that you can install on your phone, record what you need and send it directly to the service for transcription. Remind yourself of tasks by leaving voice memos for yourself. Record yourself on your phone using an app and then get it transcribed so you can see it all written down.
6. Inbox management
If you come into work every day and your inbox is overflowing with emails, work requests and memos, then how can you possibly start to work without distractions?
Your inbox should be a to do list. Anything that doesn’t require an action from you or someone else should be filed away.
We shouldn’t be living email to email, and the only way to prevent that is strict routine. Schedule specific times of the day that you check your emails. Also make sure you deactivate those notifications, as you don’t want your workflow to be interrupted.
Your inbox also doesn’t have to be one never ending list, depending on the mailbox you use, be it gmail, outlook or mail, there are so many tips & tricks for organising your inbox so you don’t waste time sifting through all the items you keep meaning to unsubscribe from. Go through your emails and set up filters to move them into appropriate places.
7. Implement the two-minute rule
Whenever you are confronted with a new task, you need to ask yourself one question.
Will it take longer than two minutes?
If the answer is no, then do it straight away. If the answer is yes, then add it to your to-do list and continue with what you were doing.
With this simple hack you can break down the constant stream of little tasks and focus on your daily goals. Just make sure that when you are scheduling in your longer tasks, you ensure that you have the correct priorities.
8. Know when to say no
If you do everything else but still find yourself with a mountain of work to do then it might be time to look at what you’re taking on.
This one is hard because a lot of the time we aren’t taught how to say no. Sometimes we say yes instinctively without thinking, or we’re scared to say no because it’s our boss asking. But saying no can sometimes be the smartest thing you can do.
By learning to say no to certain things and instead concentrating on being productive in what you’re already doing then you’ll find you work better and more quickly. You can always take on more tasks, but only after the ones you’ve done are finished.
9. Look after yourself
In the end, you are the most important thing on this list. Workaholism and stress are becoming the biggest killers in business, so you need to keep your health, both mental and physical, in mind.
Start walking or cycling to work if you can. When you leave the office, turn off your work phone. Don’t be tempted to work on the weekends. Taking care of yourself is the best way to increase your productivity.
Think about yourself sometimes, and you may find yourself getting through 2020 a better, more efficient person than before.
One final thing…
Some of these hacks might seem obvious, and that’s mostly because they are. I’m sure you have heard half of them before. But hearing about them and doing them are two different things.
So, try the pomodoro technique. Have a look at some transcription services. And make sure you take care of yourself. There are only so many hours in the day, so try and use them wisely.