89 Productivity Hacks to Crush Procrastination
PRODUCTIVITY HACKS can’t give you superpowers, but they sure help to motivate yourself. You know these days when you start to work on an important task… And the next time you notice, 4 hours have passed by without any meaningful work getting done.
No worries, almost everyone has days like this. However, there seem to be some high achievers with superpowers that never procrastinate and complete their work in time. So, what’s their secret?
Most of the time, productive people use a combination of lifehacks and motivational tactics to prompt themselves to achieve more. We listed 89 tried and tested productivity hacks that will help to take your life and work to a higher level.
Don’t try to apply all these hacks at once. Pick 3-5 and work on building these into your daily routine.
1. Respect your time
You only have a limited amount of time every day. So use it wisely and avoid doing things that take you further from your goals.
2. Get into the flow
3. Remove online temptations
Use apps like SelfControl to block distracting websites for a period. The next time you want to check your email for the 10th time that day, the website is blocked and your time saved.
4. Set a barrier to entry
Make it harder for anyone to reach you by setting up so-called barriers to entry. For example, switch off your phone and close your inbox to avoid distracting messages from other people.
5. Turn off alerts
It all starts with getting focused. Start by turning off all phone alerts and notifications that draw away your attention.
6. Avoid visual distractions
Avoid crowded places, places where a lot of people pass by since our mind is naturally attracted to them.
7. Learn to say NO
You simply can’t grant everyone’s wishes. Be ruthless when it comes to refusing new commitments and tasks. Explain you’re already too busy and, if possible, suggest a win-win solution.
8. Daydream about success
Daydream about your goals and think how great it would feel to accomplish all of them. You’ll feel an instant motivational kick and will be more focused on completing your tasks.
9. Find productive ways to procrastinate
Everyone procrastinates. But you can learn to use this time more productively. If you enjoy reading, use the procrastination time to educate yourself. Need to do some grocery shopping? Do it during your down time.
Infographic: Are Your Business Tools Killing Your Productivity?
10. Expert advice by Graham Allcott
Founder of ThinkProductive, Graham Allcott: “For the stuff, you’re stuck on, try using a Power Hour: allocate one hour a day to the thing you know you should be doing but are not quite getting round to. You’re only allowed one power hour a day – if you try and schedule five power hours, you’ve scheduled none. The Power Hour gives you permission to start without the fear of having to finish, and permission to do whatever else you like in every other hour of the day, without worrying about the thing you’re procrastinating over. Put it on your calendar, stick to it, and watch your to-do list shrink!”
11. Set exciting goals
Establish goals that motivate you to work harder and be a better person. You’re going to feel the thrill when achieving your objectives and moving closer to your life goals.
12. Live in proactive mode
People with reactive mindset let random upcoming events set the agenda. Develop proactive thinking and do not let every new wave lead you off the track. Set goals and priorities and live up to them.
13. Make verbal commitments
It is harder to break a good habit or a New Year’s resolution if you’ve told about it to someone else. Share your goals and milestones with other people, and you’re likely to put more effort into accomplishing them.
14. Focus on five goals and eliminate the rest
Warren Buffet asked his personal pilot to name his 25 life goals. Next, he told him to pick 5 of them and eliminate the rest until he had succeeded in the first five. Focusing on your top priorities is the only way to become really good at something.
15. Batch similar tasks
Do similar tasks in series as it’s easier for the brain to focus on a specific activity. You save the time otherwise spent on switching between multiple activities.
16. Start every task with a verb.
Have on your To-Do list only actionable and precise instructions on what to do. E.g. Call Mary, complete the analysis, etc.
17. Set a deadline for each task.
Set a deadline and limit the timeframe for each task to focus completely, and get things done faster.
Always have your task lists prioritized so that you know what you need to do next. Focus on what’s important and leave the less urgent tasks for the next week.
19. Plan for Monday on Friday
Before you pack your bag and head home for the weekend, take 30 minutes to reflect upon the week and plan your next week’s tasks and work schedule. It will be so much easier to start again on Monday if you have a quick reminder of upcoming tasks.
20. Expert advice by J.D. Meier
The bestselling author of Getting Results the Agile Way,J.D. Meier:
“Use The Rule of Three to rule your day. Ask yourself in the morning, what are the three things you want to achieve today, and write those down. Add the fun factor. Don’t just “call back a customer.” Instead, “win a raving fan.” By writing down your Three Wins for today, you’ll have more clarity, more focus, and a vision for your day to pull you forward and help you rise above the noise.”
Everything about your business, one click away
Delegate your tasks to people who are more efficient in implementing those and have the right skill set.
Sometimes, it is more cost-effective to hire a freelancer than spending hours on a task you don’t know how to do.
23. Identify clear targets
Whenever you begin a task, identify the target you expect to reach. Do not stop working unless you’ve reached this objective.
24. Break tasks into smaller chunks
Break complex projects into smaller tasks and focus on one at a time. Once you know where to begin, it is easier to get started.
25. Schedule work time in blocks
Don’t leave your productivity to faith. Use a calendar to schedule time blocks for working on specific tasks. Leave 15-minute breaks for taking a rest.
26. Give yourself less time than needed
When evaluating how much time you need for completing a certain task, give yourself less time. You’ll end up finishing the task quicker and spend less time procrastinating.
27. Set timer for tasks
Give yourself a fixed period, e.g. 30 minutes, to work a task. After the time’s up, move on to the next task. You will learn to work quicker (and be less of a perfectionist), getting things done on time.
28. Create to-do lists
Find the best format – sticky notes, mobile or desktop app – and create 3 to-do lists: one for high-priority tasks, one for tasks that need to be finished by the end of the week and a list of less important tasks that can be implemented if you have spare time.
29. Cross things off your to-do list
After you’ve finished a task, mark it done or cross it off your to-do list. Seeing progress enhances your productivity and gives a sense of fulfilment.
30. Expert advice by Kevin Kruse
NY Times bestselling author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management Kevin Kruse:
“I asked over 200 billionaires, millionaires, and entrepreneurs to give me their best productivity advice and the common element was: know the “one thing” each day that will get you closer to your goals and then schedule 60-90 minutes to work on it early in the morning.”
31. Ignore daily news
When was the last time you learned something really important from the news? For the most part, news cover negative events, so you’ll end up wasting time and being more pessimistic.
32. Unsubscribe from newsletters
Take 30 minutes to go through your inbox and unsubscribe from all newsletters you never read. Keep up to 3 newsletters that provide useful information but don’t waste your time presenting something you already knew.
33. Only read industry news
To be on top of your industry, you need to be aware of the latest trends and success stories. Add 15 minutes of reading to your morning routine to wake up your brain and start the day with new ideas.
34. Learn while commuting
Use your commuting time for setting agenda for the upcoming day or listen to podcasts. You’ll be surprised at how much knowledge can be gathered from audiobooks and podcasts.
35. Two-minute rule
In his bestselling book Getting Things Done, David Allen introduced the 2-minute rule. If a new task comes up and you can do it in 2 minutes, deal with it immediately. If it takes more than 2 minutes, add it to your to-do list.
36. Pareto principle
According to the Pareto principle, 20% of what we do accounts for 80% of our desired outcomes. Define which tasks and accomplishments take you closer to your goals (the 20% most effective ones) and spend more time on result-oriented activities.
37. Eat the frog
Bestselling author Brian Tracy once wrote that for everything else to seem pleasant, you need to eat the frog first. Every day, start by doing the most difficult and unpleasant task first. After you’ve accomplished it, everything else seems a child’s play.
38. Plan ahead
Start each day with a 15-minute break to reflect on your upcoming day. Set small goals for the day such as “do at least one good deed” or “learn something new today”. Completing these little tasks motivates to take up a bigger project the following day.
39. Visualize your goals as already accomplished
Imagining future success motivates to work harder to get there. Envision yourself after 10 years, having achieved today’s goals. How did you get there? Use the imagined roadmap to achieve real success.
40. Expert advice by Stephen Covey
Bestselling author Stephen Covey has said:
“From David Allen’s book Getting Things Done I learned that my brain is for processing, not storage.
Most of the stress in my life, perhaps all of it, used to come from the nagging fear that there was something more important that I ought to be doing.
From Tony Buzan, I learned that the best way to empty my brain on paper is a mind map.”
41. Focus on the outcome
Instead of thinking about how you’re going to achieve a task, imagine the benefits of having it accomplished. Focusing on the outcome and not the input gives a clear sight to work for.
42. Be effective, not efficient
Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things. – Peter Drucker
Detect the most beneficial tasks and focus on these.
Read more: 8 Cures to Regain Your Productivity at Work
43. Start with a clear agenda
Don’t’ start a task unless you’re completely sure how you plan to do it. Apply the same rule to all your daily activities.
44. Use productivity tools
Automate little tasks and enjoy productivity tools and apps that make communication, scheduling and avoiding distractions easier than ever before. Only use the tools that actually save you time. If you run a company, start using business automation.
45. Make temporary commitments
A temporary commitment is much easier to keep than a permanent one. Prepare to commit to your new habit or routine for 30 days instead of 1 year. You’re a lot more likely to stick with it.
46. Set up a “Distraction” list.
Make a list of all the things that pop up into your mind while working, and come back to the list once you’re done with the task.
47. Try aeroplane days
Create distraction-free days by going to the aeroplane mode. Give up the internet connection and turn off your phone for one day every week and focus on high-priority tasks.
48. Find your biological prime time.
Discover the time of day when your mind is naturally most focused. Once you know when you work best, schedule important work on these hours.
49. Eliminate the non-essential
Frequently review your to-do lists and remove all the unimportant tasks. Looking at a less crowded list gives an overview of your actual workload.
50. Expert advice by Tor Refsland
Founder of the Time Management Chef blog Tor Refsland: “Research has not only shown that multitasking doesn’t work, but also that it’s bad for your brain. When you multitask two things will happen: You perform several tasks with a below-average quality, and your brain will become less effective when you try to focus on a single task. You should focus on only one task until it’s done (your most important task). If there is an important task that can`t be completed in the time you have available, divide it into smaller pieces.”
51. Check email 3-5 times per day
Instead of acting to every new alert, check your email 3-5 times per day – morning, afternoon
and evening. Collect the emails you need to reply to a separate folder and answer them all at once.
52. Set an email-answering hour
Set an hour after lunch (that’s your less productive time) for replying to all your emails. There’s no need to write an answer right after reading an email. Usually, people can wait for 24 hours to get a reply.
53. Create email reply templates
Instead of typing similar replies to multiple requests, create email templates with gaps for personal information that you can fill in later.
54. Establish a “Reply by X day” folder
There are emails that need to be answered in a few hours and others that you can reply to after a few days. Create an inbox folder “reply by Friday” where to move all your non-important emails. Use your Friday afternoon to answer all those emails at once, avoiding multitasking.
55. Turn yesterday’s emails into today’s to-do list
If there are emails that need to be answered in a few days, snooze those and add to your to-do list for the next day. By doing so, you avoid messing up your planned daily schedule.
56. Organize your workspace
Clearing your work environment equals orderly and logical thinking process. Eliminate the noise and gadgets around you for increased focus and clarity of thoughts.
Get rid of all the items, tasks, and conversations that aren’t helping you in life nor making you happy.
58. Optimize your work process
Identify the tasks and processes that you use most often and evaluate them step-by-step. Think how you could make some of these steps even more efficient and work more productively.
59. Replace five tools with a single one
As you start creating to-do lists and write down high-priority goals, use only one tool (or notebook) to do it. Eliminate random sticky notes and pieces of paper and gather all the information into one place.
60. Expert advice by Graham Allcott
The author of the bestselling book How to be a Productivity Ninja, Graham Allcott: “The key to productivity or time management is actually about neither of those: it’s about managing attention. Firstly, recognize when your body and brain feel most alive and on top of your game. This is your Proactive attention time. Most people have only 2-3 hours like this each day, so learn to apply it to your most challenging work, and not waste it sat in someone else’s pointless meeting. Then, recognize your Inactive attention – the times when you feel like crap. There are always things you can do during these times, too. Save up the easy stuff for these times, to maximize productivity.”
61. Do homework before the real work
Conduct research and plan ahead before you start implementing a new task. It is easier to do things correctly in the first place and not waste time making corrections later.
62. Take periodic breaks
Nobody can work for 8 hours in a row. Give yourself some rest after every few hours. Use this time to plan for the rest of the day.
63. Evaluate your achievements
Be it once a day, week or month, but everyone needs some personal time to reflect on their achievements and evaluating whether they’ve reached all the goals or moving towards them.
64. Silence your inner perfectionist
Learn to mark a task done at the optimal time. While the perfectionist side of you might still want to make amends, your work becomes increasingly unproductive if you spend too much time on details.
65. Quit to win
Spending some time on a task doesn’t mean you need to complete it if you understand it’s doomed to fail. You can still save hours by discontinuing the half-done task.
66. Invest in good headphones
Whether you’re working in the office or a cafe, there comes a time when you need to focus deeply. A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones become priceless at these moments.
67. Listen to background sounds
Not everyone can focus while listening to music. Use Noisli to find a suitable background sound that helps you focus and be less distracted by the noise around you.
68. Improve your typing speed
Use a tool like Keybr to learn to speed type. Although it takes some time to master the skill, it will pay off in the future.
69. Learn to speed read
Take a course in speed reading. You’ll grasp the information more easily and work through the text twice as fast.
70. Attend fewer meetings
Instead of spending up to 10 hours each week listening to others speaking at meetings, try to avoid attending the ones that give you no new insight.
71. Cut the meeting time to 30 minutes
If it’s impossible for you to skip a meeting, try to keep it as short and sharp as possible.
72. File the agenda
If it’s impossible to skip a meeting, create a clear agenda of the topics that need to be discussed. Don’t let the conversation move away from a pre-set path.
73. Leave less-important meeting in the other half of day
As you’re likely to feel drowsy after lunch, schedule this time for unimportant meetings. It’s
harder to work efficiently so why not spend time discussing something with others.
74. Have “No-meetings” days
Make one meeting-free day every week when you can go undistracted and focus on accomplishing important tasks and goals.
75. Use scheduling tools
Instead of bouncing emails back and forth when trying to find a mutually suitable meeting time, use scheduling software to propose multiple meeting times and skip the emailing process.
76. Work from home
Instead of going to the office, embrace the silence and comfort of home. It takes some extra discipline, but once you get used to being your own time’s master, you’ll be even more productive than behind the office table.
77. Surround yourself with success
It is said that you’re the sum of all the people surrounding you. Build a friend network of success-minded people and learn from them.
78. Regard problems as challenges
Instead of feeling down when something goes wrong, make it a challenge to fix the bad situation.
79. Schedule 1-2 hours just for yourself
It’s not always about work and tasks. Leave some time to pause and reflect.
80. Get enough magnesium
Magnesium helps to improve learning and memory. Try some pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate or sesame seeds.
81. Drink coffee strategically.
Drink most coffee between 09:30-11:30 AM and 1:30-5:00 PM when your natural cortisol level drops, and you need a boost.
82. Fall in love with your job
You’re many times more efficient when doing something you like. Find the parts of your work that motivate you, and do these more often.
83. Focus on the present
Do not waste time regretting mistakes of the past. Instead, focus on what’s important at the present moment and make plans for the future.
84. Do it for 10,000 hours
Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell established the rule according to which you can master any skill after 10 000 hours of deliberate practice. Find your true passion and devote time to mastering it.
85. Set a weekly goal
Every week, set one primary goal that you’d like to have achieved by Sunday.
86. Create personal rituals
Create rituals that help you focus and get into the flow. For example, listening to a particular song each time when tackling a difficult challenge.
87. Try power posing
Raise up your chin and hands, and stay this way for 1 minute. You’ll be surprised how empowering this can be!
88. Slow down and reflect
When stuck with a complex problem or lacking motivation, take a pause and do something that will cheer you up and get you back in the right mood
89. Just start
Don’t just sit around and wait for great things to happen to you. You make your success. Start today by applying some of the productivity hacks to your life.
What are your favourite productivity hacks that make your days brighter and efficient? Share your thoughts with us and leave a comment!