Getting more things done during the workday doesn’t have to be rocket science. In fact, higher productivity can often be achieved by making just a few simple changes.
Some of these changes are so simple that most people overlook them. That’s why, in this article, we’ll go over 14 simple productivity hacks you can apply in 5 minutes or less.
Productivity Hack 1: Daily Priority-Setting
Identifying your 1–3 daily priorities is critical for your focus and productivity. Often, people get distracted by lesser important tasks — email, social media, phone calls — because they haven’t identified what’s truly important.
Despite working hard, they still aren’t really productive because they fail to tackle their most important tasks. As soon as you’ve identified what’s truly important, however, it’s much easier to say no to tasks that might hijack your time and attention.
To help you identify your 1–3 daily priorities, ask yourself:
What thing(s), if achieved, would lead me to consider that this day would be a total success?
What thing(s), if achieved, lead to significant progress towards my bigger goals (weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly goals)?
Productivity Hack 2: Watch A Motivational Video
As cheesy as it sounds, watching a motivational video can actually be a highly effective productivity hack. By watching a motivational video, you apply a ‘state change hack’ to get yourself motivated to do the work.
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar
Whenever you feel unmotivated, and you’re putting off your work, watching a motivational video might do the trick to stop procrastinating.
Note: be aware that some motivational videos share the wrong type of message (sleep less, skip all fun, and only work) which is why it’s important to carefully curate the right ones. Here are two that I recommend:
Productivity Hack 3: Schedule Your Day
By scheduling your day, you create the clarity on when you’re going to do what. Psychologists call this an ‘implementation intention’ which, according to research, improves your odds of following through with a task from 34% to 91%.
As you no longer have the ambiguity of when to do what, you can work without friction. You remove the need for in-the-moment decision-making, which is essential for high productivity.
Oftentimes, when we need to make in-the-moment decisions, we fall prey for instant gratifications such as social media or other distractions — and we end up putting off our work. When you already created a plan for the day in advance, this is much less likely to happen.
Productivity Hack 4: Meditate
Whenever you feel stressed, anxious, or experience a lot of mind-racing thoughts, it’s hard to be focused and productive. One of the most effective antidotes to this is meditation. Even a short 5-minute meditation could already help.
According to many studies, meditation is proven to physically rewire the brain. This concept is called ‘neuroplasticity.’
In short, regular meditation influences the grey matter in certain areas of the brain such as the pre-frontal cortex and the amygdala, which is why you experience better focus, improved self-control, higher awareness, and decreased stress after meditation.
Productivity Hack 5: Journal For Mental Clarity
A quick journaling session is very effective to get rid of internal distractions (thoughts, to-dos, and worries) and mental clutter. By getting it out of your head and onto paper, you free up mental ‘bandwidth’ that can be used for more productive things such as problem-solving, creativity, deep thinking, and focusing.
After doing a quick ‘brain dump’ of your mental clutter, you’ll be much more focused and productive.
Productivity Hack 6: Review Your Long-Term Goals
Not only does reviewing your long-term goals spark motivation, but it also helps you work in alignment with your priorities.
You see, one of the most common reasons why people fail to achieve their goals is that they don’t act in alignment with their long-term goals on a daily basis. Therefore, they fail to make real and consistent progress.
By reviewing your long-term goals, however, you can assess which tasks and projects deserve your time and energy today as they are in-line with your long-term goals.
Productivity Hack 7: Put Your Phone On Flight Mode
Your smartphone (and the apps on it) are literally designed to get you hooked and addicted. They make use of smart psychological triggers that make it incredibly hard to resist the urge to check notifications from messages, email, and social media.
Every time you receive a notification on your phone, something external pulls for your time and attention. Because of these time and attention ‘hijackers,’ the unimportant gets in the way of the important way too often — which is detrimental to your productivity.
Therefore, put your smartphone on flight mode to protect your focus for those hours in which you’re doing your most meaningful work.
Tip: Read the book ‘Hooked’ by Nir Eyal if you are interested in learning more about how modern-day tech is designed to get you addicted.
Productivity Hack 8: Take A Short Break
You can’t be productive without short breaks. For every 90 minutes that you work, take at least a 5-minute break. Walk, stretch, take a few deep breaths, and make yourself a cup of coffee or tea.
Taking small breaks helps to ‘settle the dust’ in your mind as you give it some space to recharge and process information. This way, you can resume your work with a sharper mind.
Productivity Hack 9: Drink A Glass of Water
Drinking enough water is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your productivity. In fact, not drinking enough water leads to feeling sluggish and losing focus (aka, brain fog) — which negatively impacts your productivity.
Therefore, quickly drink a glass of water whenever you feel sluggish. It leaves you feeling sharper and energized.
Productivity Hack 10: Say ‘No’
When you say yes too often, your focus, time, and energy will be split way too thin among too many different things. Therefore, your priorities don’t get the resources they require to succeed. The solution is simple, but not easy; say ‘no’ more often.
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” — Warren Buffett
Even though I’m a born optimist and I hate to say no to people, I’ve experienced ‘no’ to be essential in protecting my time and energy — and ultimately, my goals and priorities.
Productivity Hack 11: Turn Off Email Notifications When You Do Important Work
The most productive people understand how notifications and interruptions — especially those from email — are detrimental to their productivity.
“Shut down Outlook, turn off new email notifications on your BlackBerry, do whatever you have to do to muffle the interruption of email.” — Gina Trapani, founder ThinkUp
Each time you receive a notification from a new email while working on something important, your time and focus will be hijacked because the urge to check email is often too hard to resists.
Before you know it, you get sucked into an email vortex, and you’ve lost another 20 minutes of productive time.
To avoid getting tempted to check your email, turn off email notifications, and close your email tab when you’re working on an important task that requires your undived time and attention.
Productivity Hack 12: Download Website or App Blockers
When you find yourself spending too much of your valuable time, energy and attention on certain distracting apps or websites, download a blocker that prohibits you from using these websites or apps for a specific amount of time.
For example, by using blockers like RescueTime, Freedom, or Forest, there’s literally no way for you to get distracted by social media, news, or email apps/websites. It’s an easy way of protecting your focus and productivity without having to tap into your self-discipline.
Productivity Hack 13: Work With A Timer
One of the most effective ways to increase your productivity is by using a timer while working. When you give yourself a time limit to complete a task, your competitive instincts will be activated and see it more as a personal challenge to complete the task within the self-imposed deadline. This is why ‘Parkinson’s Law’ works so well.
Working without a timer or a strict deadline will be less productive because there’s less pressure to work efficiently. However, as soon as a time-limit is set, it forces us to stay focused on our work as there’s no room for time-wasting, distractions, or procrastination.
Personally, I finish writing my articles about 40% faster when I work with a timer compared to working without a timer.
Note: You can also use the Pomodoro Technique, which is based on working in 25-minute intervals followed by 5-minute breaks.
Productivity Hack 14: Make A ‘Success List’ With The ABCDE Method
With the ABCDE Method, you can create your ‘success list’ for the day, which is like a to-do list on steroids. Just like with a to-do list, you start by writing down all the items that you want to get done today.
Then, assign either an A, B, C, D or E to each of the items on your list:
- A-Items: Assign an A to the 1–3 tasks that are your most valuable, highest priority tasks.
- B-Items: Assign a B to the tasks that are somewhat valuable and are nice to complete. However, they are not as important as A-tasks.
- C-Items: Assign a C to the tasks that don’t contribute to the achievement of your goals that much. These tasks are the ones that we love to work on because they are often easy and quick to accomplish. In reality, they are merely distracting us from our priorities.
- D-Items: Assign a D to all the tasks that you can Delegate to other people who can do it cheaper, better, or faster.
- E-Items: Assign an E to all the tasks that you can Eliminate.
It is possible to have multiple tasks from the same category (for example, multiple A-tasks). In that case, rank them by priority by giving them a number. Always assign a ‘1’ to the highest value task. For example, A1 is your highest priority, followed by A2 and then A3.
The power of the ABCDE Method is that you clearly see which tasks are your priorities for the day and which are lesser important.
Furthermore, you immediately see whether you’ve been truly productive or not. If your A-items are left undone, you know it wasn’t a productive day, no matter how many tasks you completed or hours you worked.
Now Do It
Change only comes from taking action, not just by ‘knowing’ about it. Therefore, I encourage you to try out at least 3 of these productivity hacks. They’re quick to implement, so there’s no excuse not to try them out!
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab
Want To Upgrade Your Productivity?
Download my free guide ’27 Productivity Hacks For Superhuman Performance’ to learn how to get more results without working more hours, achieve your personal & business goals 372% faster and gain more free time (without feeling guilty about it).