13 Top Productivity Hacks
Life comes at us fast, and there’s no shortage of advice on improving productivity. The challenge is many tips or suggestions are random pieces of information that may or may not apply to your situation. So, how do you find the right hacks for you? The solution is turning to the research.
Rather than assume what works for one person will work for everyone, here’s some of the latest research on which methods, habits, or hacks do drive an increase in productivity. For example, according to the RAIN Group, for those known as (XP’s) or “the extremely productive,” there is a list of actions they consistently employ.
Here are 13 of the most useful, everyday productivity hacks backed by research that XP’s use to gain top performance. You can use them stand-alone or in combination with each other. The goal is to find what works for you.
- Prioritize Accountability – This is the #1 ranked behavior for high performance. It refers to people being responsible for their actions, performance, and decisions. XP’s have a high rate of follow-through, doing what they say they will do.
- Begin with High Impact Activity – Look at your to-do list and rank your tasks according to the immediate impact they provide and then reorder your tasks with the highest impact on the top and work to accomplish those first.
- Be Proactive – Look ahead to future activities, projects, and events. Anticipate the needs, scenarios, and possible outcomes of those activities. This will create opportunities rather than waiting for things to happen.
- Plan and Track Weekly Progress – Being deliberate each week on planning tasks and priorities increases performance. Why? Because it allows you to see the week ahead, focus on high-impact actions and track what you have accomplished that generates value.
- Follow a Schedule – Much like planning and tracking weekly tasks, prioritize what you’re working on; following a schedule works similarly. Breaking down each day into time blocks for higher-level activities such as strategic planning, creating, or writing, follow-up, meetings, free time, physical activity, etc., increases efficiency and creates structure.
- Begin Immediately – When you think of something, immediately add it to your weekly list and take action to determine its priority. This way, based on what you’re working on, those fleeting thoughts can be impactful.
- Bounce Back – Things won’t always go as planned, and you may get derailed a time or two. Being able to recover quickly and get back on track is a good tip. If you languish too long, your productivity will decrease, affecting your ability to keep moving forward.
- Write Out Your Goals – Having clearly defined short and long-term written goals and objectives narrows your focus, improves motivation, and provides a practical timeframe to work towards.
- Schedule Joy – This means blocking out time to do things that recharge and rejuvenate your soul. It can be anything from reading, exercising, meditating, praying, or simply being alone with nothing to do. This provides the needed balance often missing with high performance.
- Have a Personal Agenda – Everyone has an agenda, and it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. The benefits of a personal agenda include learning more about what drives you. It is the “why” in what you are doing and provides clarity to focus on your goals.
- Learn to Say No – This is difficult for most people who genuinely want to help others and see their organization succeed. The key is to know which requests will disrupt or negatively impact personal productivity. To help, keep a list of things you can and should say no to, which allows you to demonstrate that time is crucial, and you prefer not to waste it.
- Break Down Large Projects – One of the first tenants of project management is learning to utilize basic planning processes. Knowing how to break large projects down into individual tasks to accomplish a common goal in a specific timeframe will reduce stress, improve productivity, and save time.
- Practice Focusing – These days, even highly productive people struggle to focus for any length of time. This can be due to sleep deprivation, distractions, lack of priorities, stress, or lifestyle. One thing that helps is trying to tune everything out and direct all your attention to only one activity for a short time. Practice focusing once or a few times per day, and slowly you will gain longer periods of focus which will do wonders for productivity.
You won’t be able to utilize all these productivity hacks all at once. That’s okay. The purpose is to find which ones work for you. Identify a few and work them into your daily habits or weekly schedule and see your productivity improve.
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