TL;DR – #1, #6, #7, and #9.
Batch Processing (Batching)
Batch processing is a great way to group and execute similar tasks. I originally learned this concept by reading the The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. Tim started this by only checking email twice a day instead of when the “new email” icon showed up or when his computer went DING. It’s very easy to get distracted going from one task to another. Instead, group similar or like tasks together and complete together. When you go to the grocery store, are you going to randomly go through the store? No, you’re probably going to go through produce then meats, then dry goods, etc.
Use Evernote to Scan Business Cards
Some of us have those giant stacks of business cards that we collect when attending meetings and events. What do we do with them? We either throw them away or have a stack of them on your desk or in the desk drawer. I have the latter. Take 30 minutes and put them in Evernote. When you’re done, you’ll have a searchable database of contacts and the option to connect with them on LinkedIn directly from the scanning process. (Evernote and LinkedIn Perfect the Business Card)
Overcast to Listen to Podcasts (iOS)
If you listen to podcasts, then I highly recommend that you look into Overcast. Overcast is now completely free and has some awesome features. First of all, I listen to all of my podcasts at 2X speed. The voices can sound like a chipmunk but I can listen twice as many podcasts. Overcast has a feature called “Smart Speed”. Smart Speed will shorten the silences, those pauses between sentences or maybe those akward silences.
Limit Your Notifications
Nothing is more annoying than a constant flood of notifications (email, meetings, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) on your computer, phone, and anywhere else you get notifications. This could take some time to fine-tune but it’s worth it. For example, I spend most of my day on my laptop. I don’t have any Outlook notifications turned on. I rely on my phone for email notifications and meeting reminders. When I’m on my laptop, I want to concentrate on the task at hand.
Create a To-Do List
It’s always tempting to have a giant to-do list. However, if your list is too long or filled with tasks that are daunting, you’re probably not going to finish those tasks. Instead, create lists that have no more than 3-5 items on it and breakdown larger tasks into manageable tasks. The smaller the task, the higher chance you’re going to complete it and cross it off for a win. Here are some tools that I use from time to time: Evernote, Trello, Asana, and lastly, pen and paper.
JITL – Just in Time Learning
A few years back I started listening to the podcasts Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn and Internet Business Mastery. They kept talking about this practice of just in time learning (JITL). I never knew there was a name for this concept but I was doing it all along. JITL is the process of reducing information overload that we get on a day to day basis and allows us to take in information right before we need it. For example, if I need to do a demonstration on a product that I don’t know, I’m not going to learn about it months in advance. Instead, I’ll wait for a week or even a couple of days prior to the demo to prep myself. This way, all of the information is fresh, I have the most recent information, and I didn’t learn it in advance to forget it by not using that knowledge.
There are only 24 hours in a day and we all have obligations outside of work. For a lot of folks, it’s hard to say “no” when someone asks them to do something. Maybe there’s a some FOMO (fear of missing out), you don’t want to let your manager down, or you want to be the go to person for everything. However, the more that we take on, the higher liklihood of making mistakes or burning out.
Try saying “no” the next time you’re asked to do something.
Get away from your computer and cell phone. Go outside and go for walk. Make some coffee or tea – appreciate the time it takes, the smells, the process. If you’re writing a draft of something, try pen and paper instead.
Under 2 Minute Rule
For those of you that have taking a Getting Things Done course by David Allen then you may remember this one. “I have a two-minute rule that says: If you determine an action can be done in two minutes, you actually should do it right then because it’ll take longer to organize it and review it than it would be to actually finish it the first time you notice it. – Success.com
Not only will you complete more tasks, but the accomplishment of completing something might also motivate you to keep moving forward. Those quick wins can go a long way!
Maker vs. Manager Time
Maker time is the utilization are large chunks of time to complete a single task/project while manager time is the opposite. A manager has smaller chunks of time to bounce from topic to topic. When you’re trying to work on a project and need to bounce back and forth, you lose your though process and usually need to take time to get back into that mental state. If you had a large chunk of uninterrupted time then you might be able to complete that task much faster and with higher quality. Every year, I remind myself of this process. I even wrote a quick blog post back in 2013 about it. You can check it out here – Maker Time vs. Manager Time
What are some of your productivity hacks? Leave some thoughts/suggestions in the comments below!
Image Credit: Dennis Hamilton