The best productivity tactics are ones that support your work, and allow you to hunker down and work smarter. The ideas in this article are no exception. The best part? These productivity boosters won’t take a ton of your time.
Let’s dive right in with 10 ways you can start becoming more productive today.
Productive people don’t work on autopilot in response to what comes their way—they work deliberately, and with intention. My absolute favorite productivity tactic for accomplishing this is the Rule of 3. At the start of each day, you define what three things you want to accomplish by day’s end. That’s it. This rule lets you work more deliberately, and separate what’s important from what isn’t. This practice only takes a minute or two of focused thinking.
A distraction blocker—like Freedom or Cold Turkey—lets you earn back hours of valuable time. Apps like these save me from myself whenever I’m writing. I hit a dead end whenever I try to waste time on a distracting website. Most distraction blockers require you to actually restart your computer to access a blocked website—a great deterrent. Distractions are infinitely easier to deal with before they come up, rather than after.
We instinctively reach for a distraction whenever our mind is even slightly resisting an aversive task. Our phone is almost always there for this. Leave it in another room as you work.
Hyperfocus means focusing on a single task at a time. Block time on your calendar to enter this mode. Tame any distractions you may face, leave your phone in another room, and hunker down. You will likely accomplish the equivalent of an entire afternoon’s work in this hour or two.
RescueTime is another distraction blocker—with an added feature. It makes you aware of exactly how you spend your computer time: which apps and websites you log minutes on, and so on. This data is invaluable in making you aware of how productive you were (or weren’t), and what digital habits you should consider changing.
So many of us are lacking energy and wonder why—even on days when we get enough sleep and eat well. Ask yourself: have you drank enough water? Getting your needed H2O fix maintains good health and energy to stay productive. This simple, commonsense advice works. Stay hydrated.
Discovering a structured bedtime ritual that you enjoy is key to heading to bed at a decent time. When figuring out your routine, include the time you’ll head to bed (so you can have a good amount of energy the next day), and note any habits that help you wind down, such as drinking a mug of herbal tea, reading, or disconnecting from the internet.
Go through your calendar and watch for recurring meetings you don’t need to attend. Deciding on a way to get out of those future meetings may take more than a minute of deliberate thought—but you’ll make this time back 10 times over.
Your mind will wander to some fascinating places when you set aside time to let this happen. When you purposefully scatter your attention, your mind wanders to the future 48% of the time (which is partly why you come up with so many great ideas in the shower). It also wanders to think about what you’re doing in the present 28% of the time. Scatter your attention so you can let your mind plan and think more strategically, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
You’ll likely feel anxious when you first do this—but trust me, that feeling will clear after a day or two. You’ll feel as though you’ve rounded a corner after this initial hump, that a whole new expanse of focus and clarity has just revealed itself. The average person can work for only 40 seconds before we’re either distracted or interrupted. Deleting your phone’s email app will help you focus for longer on your most important tasks, and make you significantly more productive.
Investing in your productivity can only help so much—you’ll still have to do the work. But these 10 ideas will help you manage your time, attention, and energy significantly better.
I share these tips—along with dozens of others—in my CreativeLive course, The Productive Life. I hope you’ll tune in. I promise that, the same as with investing in these ideas, you’ll make that time back many times over.