Across all industries, people have more and more things to deal with on a daily basis – tasks have become more diverse, employees are expected to take care of multiple projects at once, and the internet has become both a lifesaving convenience, but also an enormous rabbit-hole full of time-draining quizzes and lists, flashes, and people you haven’t seen in years but suddenly and inexplicably have an enormous interest in.
2015 presents a very different workforce than decades past, and how we manage productivity has changed with the times. How do you squeeze a few more billable hours into your day? Here are the Top Productivity Hacks For 2015:
Figure out a Solution Quickly & Remember it for Next Time
A lot of little things can go off when you least expect it, but the important thing to remember in those moments is that they can be a learning opportunity. If you accidentally blow a fuse that happens to power your router and modem, you might spend ten minutes trying to find out the source of the problem.
But the next time it happens, you’ll know the first place to check! Don’t pressure yourself to not make mistakes (because you will), but the most important thing is to not make the same mistake twice and try not to mess up the big stuff.
Find Your Peak Hours & Prioritize Your Biggest Tasks for Those Hours
Everybody has hours in their day when they’re most productive. For some, it’s very early in the morning as soon as they’ve had their coffee; for others, it’s late at night when everybody else has gone to sleep.
Figure out when you are able focus the best and schedule your biggest, most daunting tasks for those peak hours. Once you complete those tasks, the rest of the day will become a lot more manageable
Set Up On A Sunday
Though nobody wants to do actual work on a Sunday, it truly pays off to take some time to prepare for the upcoming week. The don’t nessesarily6 need to be work tasks, but more preparation for the coming week. For example: track upcoming projects, get laundry and groceries out of the way, and planning meals for the week. This can save you hours of time, and help you feel ready to tackle the week!
You can even take Sunday to give yourself a nice treat: bake a big loaf of breakfast banana bread or your favorite kind of muffin, and your Monday morning will start off a lot less grumpy.
Though it sounds counterintuitive, multitasking can be a real burden on productivity. We’ve been conditioned with digital aids to be able to hand more tasks at once, but what that means is that it takes us a whole lot longer to accomplish a single task. Tackling assignments one at a time yields higher quality results, and limits opportunities for “transitional” time to rear its ugly head – after all, you might think you’re just giving Facebook a quick check between tasks, but that time can add up.
Track How You Spend Time — But Don’t Go Too Crazy on Apps
It’s hard to know which aspects of the internet will help you, and which will hinder you. There are the obvious culprits: Facebook, Twitter, gossip blogs, and time-wasting news sites add nothing but wasted time to your day. B
But, for every timesuck available are interesting and ingenious apps that will help you manage your Internet use. RescueTime tracks how you’re spending time on the Internet and gives you reports based on your activity – with this app, you’ll never find yourself scratching your head, wondering where all that time went. If you find that you spend more time than you should on Facebook, you can become conscious of this bad habit and actively fight it.
However, don’t get too carried away with self-help apps! After all, time researching apps to help you become productive is better spent actually being productive.
Take Real Meals
This is another tip that might seem counterintuitive, but using your lunch hour to actually eat lunch away from the keyboard will help boost your productivity throughout the day. By taking a real break and refueling, you’ll be able to use the time to breathe, refuel your body, and re-motivate your mind to face the afternoon.
Try to avoid being at the computer at all – you might think you’re taking a break by surfing the net and catching up with your friends on social media, but it’s the easiest way to lose track of time without actually giving your mind a sense of separation. Read a book, take a walk, squeeze in a 20-minute yoga class or go out to lunch with your coworkers instead. And don’t forget to fill up on brain-boosting superfoods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, and fish
Schedule A Time to Check Email
Some people may recommend tackling emails as soon as you receive them to get them out of the way, but it takes more concentration away from your current work by constantly distracting you from the tasks at hand.
Instead, let your emails build up throughout the day, and schedule a dedicated chunk of time to reading and responding to emails. That way, you won’t accidentally forget to respond to someone (who hasn’t quickly glanced at an incoming email and later thought that they had responded to it already?), and they won’t take any time away from the rest of your work.
Schedule Short Meetings with Fewer People
Former CEO of KAYAK, Paul English, has often written that he never scheduled meetings with more than three people, reasoning that it shouldn’t take more than that number of heads to come to a decision.
The career page of their website still counts “No stupid meetings” as a perk. And what a perk it is!
Too often, one-hour department-wide meetings are spent on people running late, games of musical chairs, sneaking extra danishes, and people checking their phones. It’s much more productive to break those larger agendas down into segments, scheduling meetings with only the relevant people, and keeping them to 20 minutes, max.
That way, everybody saves time because nobody is sitting around for decisions that don’t concern them.
Scale Back On Open Tabs
Ever since web browsers give us an option to Open New Tab, it’s been all too easy to go crazy collecting tabs. By eliminating tabs for Facebook, Twitter, email, and articles that you were intending on “reading later” from your browser menu, you’ll prevent getting distracted every time you get a message, and you won’t be clicking five different pages just to get to the one you need.
The best part is: by not having so many tabs open, your computer will run faster and smoother
Have a Dedicated Work Space
As our workforce continues to head into a freelance market, more and more people are choosing to working from home. It’s a tempting working arrangement: there’s more flexibility, you can wear what you want, and there’s no rush hour from the bedroom to your kitchen table.
On the downside, however, is a much less regimented workday schedule, and, oh, the couch looks so comfortable, and, can I watch an episode of Mad Men on Netflix on my lunch hour? And can my lunch hour be two hours? It’s very easy to procrastinate starting new projects from your couch. To maintain a work-life balance, try to find a dedicated space to do work, either in your home or at a cafe, and keep regular work hours.