17 Powerful Productivity Hacks From A Professional Productivity CoachApr 05, 2021
If you are struggling with achieving your productivity goals, then you’re in the right place.
We are constantly prone to distractions. Whether it’s a conversation with a friend, a Netflix show, a phone call, a bird outside, or playing with the dog – our mind wanders. Those who are good at keeping themselves focused either hire an accountability coach or implement these 17 tricks.
These tips are designed to not only help you stay productive but execute your work to a high and consistent standard. If you focus on these 17 tips you will be well on your way to becoming a productivity machine.
1. Plan downtime
The ‘unschedule’ was made famous in the book “The Now Habit.” It says you need to plan time off and schedule activities and rest throughout the week and day. Having a week filled with work is not an enjoyable week and will inhibit your productivity in the long run.
Parkinson’s Law says work will swell or shrink depending on the time you invest. If you schedule time off and proper breaks, you will get your job done quicker – giving your brain time to recharge.
2. Don’t identify with procrastination
We have to be careful with how we label ourselves and the internal dialogue that happens when we do. Labelling yourself is accepting an identity and making it more likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone procrastinates, but that does not make you are a procrastinator. You can get better at managing your time and workload – all it takes is a bit of determination and even the help of an accountability coach.
3. Accountability is key
Think about employing a friend or accountability coach to hold you accountable for the tasks you are doing. The best athletes have a coach for their sport, so why can’t you have a habit coach? It’s also important to acknowledge that starting is better than being perfect. If you wait to be perfect, you will never start at all. Don’t worry about looking like an “imposter” or making mistakes. It’s all part of the process and helps you to learn and grow. Change your mindset and hold yourself and your thoughts accountable. A mindset shift will help tap into your creative side, and results will flow.
4. Make it simple
One of the simplest but also most effective ways to be productive is the trusted whiteboard. Put a whiteboard on the wall and mark each hour that is complete. Having a prominent visual reminder constantly in your face will prime your brain to be more productive. After all, you are trying to reinforce behaviour and form a habit. The pathways in your brain need to be retrained. A whiteboard is a fantastic way to do this. Also, when you mark off a productive hour, your brain will get a big dopamine rush. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with our reward system. It signals to us when we have done something positive and is the feel-good part of our makeup. Staying productive is more likely a regular occurrence if it feels good to do so.
5. Focus on the first thing
You may have heard that ticking the big and most complex tasks off the list first will help you be more productive. You heard right. However, this rule only applies when there isn’t a more pressing task that needs to be prioritised. The following productivity coach hack is to focus on the first thing you need to do and complete that. This will build momentum. There is a lot to be said for momentum, as it creates a wave of energy and force behind what you do, building confidence and propelling you onto the next job or task. It’s as if your brain knows it can achieve anything once you have completed a few jobs and are on the road to success.
6. Have an office area
If you can, create a room dedicated to work time. When you enter the room, your mind will automatically go into work mode and will associate this space with productivity and action. It is crucial that your workspace is set up for success and that looks different for every individual. While some work well in a neat, tidy, and clutter-free environment – more creative types might prefer an organised mess to spark the right tone. You could also consider having a candle or spot of essential oils to set the mood.
7. Train your brain to focus
If you’ve worked at home, you will realise it takes a microsecond of getting pulled out of the zone to spend an hour then working on getting it back. The accountability coach hack is to stay focused for 25 minutes at a time and then break. If you sense your brain getting distracted, gently bring it back to the task at hand and have peace of mind knowing that you can take a break when the 25 minutes is up. This will take practice, but before you know it, you will nail tasks with ease and power through them without getting distracted.
8. Get around the house
Research says that mixing up your work environment can have a massive effect on productivity. Do less demanding work on the balcony or the couch. It’s good to mix it up from time to time and experience a new environment while still working. The new environment tells your brain that this is a unique experience, and your brain pays better attention to the task at hand. And if you can get outdoors, to work in the sun, all the better. Everyone knows the effect vitamin D can have on happiness, productivity, and mood.
9. Get an intense work schedule
At our core, we are habitual creatures, and our body works well this way. This means starting and finishing at the same time every day will increase your productivity. You should also consider giving yourself a “computer curfew.” This will force you to shut down all devices at a particular time and think about anything other than work. Spend the time with family or read an enjoyable book. As a habit coach, the best habit-forming advice is to start and finish at the same time every day.
10. Get dressed for work
Getting dressed is a mental reminder that you are here to work and here to succeed. You may want to wear comfy clothes all day, and you still can. Just don’t wear the same clothes you wore to bed the night before. Look like a slob, and your work will produce the same result. We always recommend taking a shower as soon as you wake up and getting dressed in comfy and casual business attire. This morning ritual will have a tremendous effect on how you feel and your productivity.
11. Track time – productive or not!
This is one of the simplest but could easily be one of the most effective techniques for holding yourself accountable and staying more productive. Get a watch, use your phone or even buy an alarm clock. Knowing how long it takes you to do a task and timing yourself will let you know if you are procrastinating or not. If you are halfway on the timer but still have two-thirds of the task to go, you need to focus, buckle down, and get on with it. The more you do this, the better you will get at staying on task.
By tracking how long it takes to achieve a task and recording this on a Google Doc, you can notice and track when you are improving.
If you want to take things a step further then use tools like RescueTime to really keep an eye on what you’re doing across your PC, Mac and phone!
12. Don’t multitask, it’s not good for productivity
Thinking of many things at once is tiring for your brain and makes things a lot harder. You’ve probably heard of decision fatigue. If you haven’t, it’s the exhaustion your brain gets when it needs to make many decisions in one day. This is exacerbated when you are trying to make all these decisions at the same time. It’s crucial to focus on one thing at a time and break tasks up into bite-sized sections. Keep a list of small things you need to do and start knocking them off the list one at a time.
13. Schedule email time
This tip is made famous in the book “The Four-Hour Work Week.” Don’t check emails all the time. If you do, you will find yourself consumed with small and insignificant tasks without actually accomplishing anything with substance. Schedule two sessions a day to check and reply to emails. Nothing outside that timeframe!
There is also web blocking software to set email limits. This will lock you out and only allow entry at certain times throughout the day.
14. Keep a notepad by your computer
Part of the problem with staying on task and being productive is our mind is filled with wonderfully creative ideas. Ideas appear at the weirdest times throughout the day, and this is something to be celebrated, not frowned upon. Keeping a notepad on your desk is a way to quickly and positively release the idea, saving it to ponder later. When you get an idea or thought, write it down on the notepad as a “distraction release.”
Be careful using your phone as a notepad because many other apps on there can lead to unwanted distractions.
15. Talk to actual people!
Yes, I said it. Talk to real, actual people. Sending emails or chatting online takes time. To be more productive, pick up the phone and call someone for a chat. Calling for a chin wag might sound counterproductive and probably is, although calling to discuss work can be much more productive than emailing. With email, you miss the intricacies of human interaction and the back and forth is time-consuming and tedious. Someone says one thing but doesn’t answer your whole email, and you have to go back twice or even three times before the email is clarified or you have locked something in. Try picking up the phone for a quick 5-minute call. This will save time, and the real chat will have an incredible benefit to your mental health. It’s amazing how productive you can be after a chat with an actual human and not a computer.
16. Workout and get the blood flowing
Split your day up by doing some exercise. Getting the blood pumping is a great way to come back, feeling more focused and energised. It could be a quick set of push-ups or a more intense HIIT workout. Or perhaps a short stroll through a beautiful bush. Whatever you choose to do, it’s crucial to get the heart rate up and get a little sweat on is even better. Let your mind wander away from work and feel the endorphins flowing through your body. An accountability coach can help you implement a set of specific fitness routines proven to help focus.
17. Productivity doesn’t need overtime
Don’t push forward to get things done. Your mind will fatigue and become exhausted. The brain is like any other muscle, and the more you work it, the more tired it will get – diminishing cerebral output. Pushing forward to get things done might seem like a good idea; however, it could have drastic effects on your productivity and your work quality. When your brain is fired, a task that usually takes one hour will take double or even triple in time taken. And it will rob you of fun and reward until you finally give up with exhaustion. Have a finishing time and stick to it.
If you still haven’t completed what you need to for the day, then consider waking up early with a fresh brain the next day or acknowledge that you failed and do better next time. Remember, failure is a good thing and helps you learn. There is no point sitting there beating yourself up. It will achieve nothing.
Barking About Action is a team of online accountability coaches determined to help people be their best selves. Staying productive is hard work, so we give you the tools and methods necessary to stay focused and achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning more, then reach out today.
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