Most of us would like to make our lives a little easier. And one of the best ways to do this is improve our productivity and free up some time.
We know that if we could just find a few little habits to help us get on the right track, we’d be able to push through the day smoothly and efficiently. We’d get more done in less time, and have extra time at the end of the day to relax and wind down.
We know because we’ve all done it before.
And in my quest to find the productivity hacks that actually make a difference, I’ve come across a few straight forward tips that had a real noticeable impact on my performance.
Here are 5 strange but simple productivity tips that when put into place, will make a clear difference to my productivity:
Write down EVERYTHING you do for one week.
What gets tracked gets improved.
It’s very simple to just keep a journal on you at all times, taking note of each thing you do and the time you spent doing it.
In just a week you’d see exactly where you’ve been wasting time, and you’ll be far more aware of its time-sucking nature in the future. You might find out that you spend 4 hours a day on Facebook or 2 hours checking emails – and you’ll be better able to allocate your time.
If you keep the practice of journalling up, you’ll also be motivated week by week to improve your performance.
Put a plant in your workspace
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests the putting plants in your workplace is good for productivity and wellbeing.
Being locked in an office for hours on end has the unusual benefit of make you appreciate nature more than you otherwise would. By placing plants in your work environment, or even by hanging images of nature around the office, workers report more productivity and more satisfaction than if their view was dominated by buildings or sidewalks. If you don’t want to put too much effort into caring for the plant, make sure to ask for something that doesn’t need watered often.
Listen to the right type of music
I’m sure most of us enjoy music, so adding music to your work is a tip that I think is pretty easy to get on board with. What’s important is to make sure however that you are listening to the right type of music.
This study showed that classical is best if your work requires attention to detail or numbers, pop music if it you do any type of data entry, ambient sounds if you need to solve equations, and dance music for proof reading and problem solving.
Set a big, scary, completely unrealistic goal – and then fail
This actually acts like a warm up for our brain, we switch into creative mode in order to prepare for a new challenge, but without the pressure of having to complete the goal (knowing it’s completely unrealistic). When we fail, we can move on into other tasks that seem simple by comparison.
Don’t work so much
Founder of The Energy Project, Tony Schwartz, has said “manage your energy, not your time” – and in a culture that is overworked, these are really words to live by.
Most of us try to be more productive by cramming more hours into our day, while the reality is that we produce better results if we structure our work around the natural cycles of our body.
One of those cycles is called the ultradian rhythm. During this period we have 90 minutes where we progress from higher to lower alertness. What this means is that at the end of the 90 minutes you must take a break in order to get back to a higher level of alertness again.
Think about it this way, you don’t want to run a marathon at work, you want to do short sprints with intervals. Make sure the break is a complete break from work related thought, or you’ll start the next phase without the benefits of having rested your mind.
Simple changes in your productivity can help make your life a whole lot easier. Try experimenting with these 5 strategies today and see what a difference they can make to your work.
Have any experience with these tips? Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments!
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Ben Fishel is a freelance writer, and the creator of Project Monkey Mind – a blog that delves deep into psychology, spirituality, and the mind, and offers practical wisdom for the digital age.