What I Learned By Trying Different Productivity Hacks

Productivity has always been a fascination of mine. I think this is because me and time have always had a lousy relationship. Thinking about all the work I wanted to accomplish, and then realizing how little time it felt was given to me seemed to leave me in a constant state of anxiety.

So, it became my determination to discover how the most productivity could be squeezed out of each day. Not only was I wanting to do more, but the work I was doing needed to be effective. After all, there is no point in doing a bunch of work if it lacks quality.

As I embarked on my journey to find the most optimal ways to increase the productivity of my days, many different ideas were uncovered. There is no shortage of productivity advice on the internet. But I decided on four hacks that seemed to be the most popular.

After giving each one a try, a lot was learned. Both in terms of what works and what only resulted in further time centered anxiety. Through all this research and experimentation, I landed on a perfect blend of productivity hacks I continue to use today.

What I would like to do is highlight the lessons I learned from the four productivity hacks I tried and introduce you to the blend I have created for myself.

Tested Productivity Hacks

  1. Timed Work: This is a common practice where you time the work you do in a given day. You can choose to time all your work, complete it, and then be done for the day. Or you can time certain periods of work followed by short breaks.
  2. Task Checklist: With this productivity hack you list out all the tasks you want to accomplish. This is your typical “To Do” list. After you complete each activity, it is crossed off the list.
  3. Daily Schedule: Here you will create a schedule for each day. This is supposed to keep you on track and take the guess work out of what needs to be done. You schedule in all the tasks you wish to accomplish.
  4. Do What Feels Right: Now this last one is by far the strangest. It is geared towards the idea we should work on what feels right at the time. This allows for more productivity because we take away the friction created when having to do things we do not want to do.

The Perfect Blend

After giving each of the previously described productivity hacks a try, I felt unfulfilled with each of them. They all helped to an extent but fell short in other areas. For instance, initially I thought timed work was the perfect option for me.

It kept me on track and allowed for productive and efficient work within the given time frame. However, after adhering to this for a week or so, I began to notice a shift in my focus. Rather than judging my days based on what I completed, I was becoming obsessed with how much time I was working.

Now onto another option. I thought that focusing just on tasks would be the key. However, I quickly learned I would forget to do a task or spend too much time obsessing over a simple one. Next came a daily schedule.

Surely this one would be the best of both worlds. But, once again it fell short. With the varying commitments and things that would pop up every day, adhering to a strict schedule became difficult.

With the final option, I must say I grow too anxious for such a way of thinking. I did enjoy the freedom it provided, though the thoughts were always in my head about what I should be doing.

That is how I ended up with the perfect productivity blend for myself. After much trial and error, I combined attributes from the four mentioned hacks to develop one that works best for me.

I start by making a list of all the tasks I want to accomplish in a day. These will be geared towards achieving the goals I have set. Next, I think about all the commitments I have for the following day.

At this point I will begin to create the next day’s schedule. However, I don’t write down the times to do each task. Rather, I put them into my planner in the order in which I want to complete them.

So, you could say its task-focused scheduling, with some timed work sprinkled in. I do try to keep my activities to a maximum amount of time, I just don’t have to work for the whole time if I complete the task early.

This practice has worked wonders for my productivity. How do you schedule your day to be the most productive?

Eli Straw is the founder of Success Starts Within and has an M.S. in psychology. Eli’s goal is to provide valuable performance psychology information to the public, and help individuals optimize their lives. If you would like to read more articles written by Eli, you can view them here.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

42 Responses to What I Learned By Trying Different Productivity Hacks

  1. This was a great read and reminder that productivity isn’t measured by one metric. To be most productive changes daily, based on priorities, deadlines, checklists, etc. I love how you combined these tips and it made your days more fulfilling and accomplished. –Ryan

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  12. There is another productivity hack which has worked very well for me – that is being not-result-oriented! I know it sounds silly, but once you have got your goals set and you have broken them down into milestones and then onto individual tasks.. you just put your head down and keep doing one task after the other without worrying about “if it will pan out right” or “how will it impact the overall plan” etc. It takes away almost all the anxiety out of work and improves my productivity very much. I have found that I can do an enormous amount of work speedily by this technique with a 6 -7 hour work day. Hope someone finds this useful!

  13. Mark Shens says:

    Good post! I think people who have such experience must share them to make life of other people better. Not all people use productivity and time management hacks and suffer from this. If you one of them, I can recommend to visit this page and learn this useful info!

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