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 actually overlook them. That’s why I decided to write this article.
Let’s go over 5 ridiculously simple ways to improve your productivity today!
#1: Put Your Smartphone Away
Your smartphone, despite being amazing technology, is the biggest source of distraction and thus it’s enemy number one of your productivity. In fact, most of the apps that we use are designed to get us hooked on a neurological level. When you scroll through Instagram, refresh your email or watch a YouTube video, the neurochemical dopamine is released — which makes you feel rewarded.
In other words, your brain wants you to repeat this behavior as it expects to be rewarded with dopamine every time you use your smartphone. This is exactly why smartphones and social media are so addicting — and why it forms such a big distraction for most of us.
You can try to resist the urge of checking your smartphone, but this only drains willpower and valuable energy from the brain — making it more difficult to focus and doing high-quality work.
Therefore, when working on your most important tasks, put your smartphone away. Put it on flight mode and place it out of sight. Give it to a colleague or even put it in another room so you have the freedom to focus.
No longer do you have to lose valuable time and attention over meaningless distractions. Instead, you can direct your resources towards things that actually matter. For this reason, I recommend you work for at least two hours per day without checking your smartphone!
#2: Set 1–3 Daily Targets
Setting daily targets is critical for your productivity. Often, people know what they want to achieve somewhere far into the future, but fail to make meaningful progress because they don’t create clarity on what they exactly should be doing today. Therefore, they hardly make any significant steps towards their bigger goals.
Because of this lack of clarity, they end up wasting more time or they start working on less important tasks and projects instead (something called ‘productive procrastination’). This might cause a feeling of productivity, but in reality, they aren’t.
Therefore, set 1–3 daily targets at the start of your day (or the night before). This way, you’ll have full clarity on what your priorities are. You know which tasks to focus on, as they are the ones that will actually move the needle.
Furthermore, make it a priority to work on your most important targets early in the day. First of all, valuable mental resources such as your willpower, creative thinking, and ability to focus deplete throughout the day. So, if you’d postpone your priorities to later in the day, you’ll have a harder time focusing, solving problems and staying with your work for longer.
Also, when you schedule your priorities for later in the day, you’re much more likely to come up with excuses for why you shouldn’t do it today. Later in the day, it’s often easier to convince yourself that it’s a better idea to postpone the work to tomorrow.
Maybe you received an urgent email or phone call, you felt less energized, or other ideas dominated your thinking. There are all kinds of excuses we tell ourselves to get out of doing the important work. And the longer you wait to tackle your priorities, the more convincing these excuses become.
#3: Drink Enough 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.
We need high levels of energy to approach our work with motivation and drive. And when those feelings are lacking, it’s much harder to sit down and do the work.
Whenever you feel low on energy, it might be because you didn’t drink enough water. Therefore, aim for at least 3-liter water per day. Personally, I keep a large bottle of water at my desk and I go for a refill at least every two hours. I clearly notice how my energy (and productivity) improves by doing so.
#4: Declutter Your Mind
When there’s a lot on your mind, it’s impossible to focus deeply on your work. Your attention will be taken away every time you think of things that still need to be done or problems that you worry about.
On the contrary, when you have a calm and relaxed mind, you’ll be able to focus well on your work and have the headspace available to think deeply, solve problems, and generate creative ideas.
That’s why I recommend you grab a journal and write down the thoughts that weigh heavy on your mind. Furthermore, write down all the to-dos that pop up instead of keeping them in your mind. When you mentally keep track of your to-dos, it occupies valuable headspace that should be directed towards your work.
Last but not least, make meditation a regular habit. Meditation is scientifically proven to decrease inner chatter and to lower stress and anxiety, which all enables you to direct more energy and attention towards your important work at hand.
#5: Reflect & Review Your Day
One of the simplest but most effective productivity habits is to review your days and weeks. By looking at what went well and what didn’t go well, you can streamline your work process and analyze which habits and activities you should do more or less of.
By simply taking a few minutes to reflect on my actions, results, and lessons learned, I’ve managed to save myself many weeks and even months of frustratingly hard work.
Sometimes, the way to higher productivity is not by doing more, but by taking a moment to stand still and reflect.
Most people don’t analyze their own behavior and therefore they have blind spots that continue to hinder their productivity, focus, and success. Self-awareness is the key here. So take a few minutes each day to review your day — and to set yourself up for an even more productive and focused day tomorrow.
Now Do It
Knowing about these productivity hacks is not enough, you need to take action upon them. That’s the path towards improvement.
That’s why I invite you to try out at least two of these productivity hacks for yourself — and notice the effect it’ll have on your productivity.
To Your Personal Growth,
Founder Personal Growth Lab