What is your super-productive life hack?
#1: FOCUS ON HIGH-VALUE ACTIVITIES
Productivity relies on a system (not necessarily "life hacks"), so here are my 16 ways to be more productive that you can potentially turn into your own system.
1. 4:30 am
This is the magic hour... Or the magic time? Either way, I like to wake up at 4:30 am because it allows me to get my most essential tasks done before anyone else is awake and able to divert my attention to whatever their requests are.
It's not easy to wake up at 4:30 am, unless your livelihood depends on it, I get it, but if you can slowly work your way there, you'll notice an almost immediate bump in productivity.
Try this; wake up every morning 30 minutes earlier than the previous morning until you reach 4:30 am. You'll also notice that the inverse effect of waking up that early in the morning is going to bed earlier. You won't even have to try!
2. Vibrating alarm instead of sonic alarm
There are plenty of wearables like FitBits and Smartwatches that allow you to program an alarm. Instead of going for a traditional alarm that wakes you up with increasing noise (and sometimes vibration), set a wrist alarm on your wearable so that you can wake up with less anxiety - a bonus is that nobody else will be aware that you've snoozed or are awake, since nobody else will be woken up by the vibrations.
3. First hour phone free
This one is really going to take some practice, because most people keep their phones glues to their palms. Start your day with a little bit more control - don't mind the notifications, texts and emails. Decide what you want to accomplish in the first hour of being awake, and then do it.
A lot of people assume that when they wake up, they have to attend to emails and messages immediately, but the reality is that it won't make a difference to the person on the receiving end whether you respond now or later. If it's a message that was sent while you were sleeping, it's likely no longer urgent (if it ever was).
Go out of your way to limit your distractions.
4. 15 to 20 minutes on social media, per day
Ouch. Another one that will irritate your FOMO bug! There are apps like Forest and even something called the Freedom App that will assist you in nipping your social media FOMO bug in the bud.
These apps will allow you to set time limits for yourself and carry on the rest of your day in a productive manner.
5. Look up and look around you
I'm not going to sit on some moral high horse and bemoan the fact that my generation barely interacts with one another - even when seated opposite one another at a dinner table. This has in-turn made a lot of us slightly antisocial. When you're in the presence of others, put your phone down, look up and take note of what's going on around you.
6. Permanently put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode
Remember the last phone call that you missed? When you called back, did it turn out to be an urgent matter? Probably not.
The odds of any phone call or text message or email being urgent in this day and age is really limited, and besides, those who are close to you will know how to reach you on multiple mediums, so again, there's really no reason for you to absolutely receive every single notification as it occurs and have to respond to it right away...
7. Remove Messages from Your Computer
If you an iMac or MacBook, then your Messages app is probably automatically turned on so that you can receive texts that would otherwise only pop up as notifications on your iPhone. This might sound like a good idea, but if you're phone eats into your productivity then it might be time for you to get rid of your messages app, or at least quit it and prevent it from starting up when your computer boots.
If you happen to receive notifications via Google Chrome then disable this under preferences and stop allowing your message notifications to interrupt you when you're working.
8. Use a To Do List App
I have a huge offshore virtual team and the very first thing that we do together during onboarding is getting them acclimated with my to-do list app. It's a great way for all of us to be on the same page about what needs to be done with regards to content, or simply daily operations. Apps like Wunderlist, Google Keep, Any.do, Remember the Milk, Habitica, Trello, and Todoist help you split your goals and projects into very specific tasks and then you can allocate those tasks to set days, prioritise them, and even delegate them to your team.
When you get into the habit of updating your to-do list in the morning, you'll see that focusing on the task with the highest priority (without any distractions - in the first hour of your working day) will make the day move smoother.
I admit that this one is a little random, but bare with me...
10. Sing along to some music while you shower in the morning
Am I the only one whose belted out a tune in the shower? Come on... Be honest! We've all done it, and now it turns out that singing in the shower comes with a whole host of health benefits.
Apparently, when you sing it takes you back to the fundamental learning period in your life when you were swaddled by your parent and they sang you to sleep. So singing leads to a higher immune competence, which makes you less susceptible to catching bugs, and it also lowers your cortisol (stress hormone) levels which leads to a healthier heart.
Singing, like staring into the eyes of a pet, triggers the release of both oxytocin and endorphins in the brain which further relieves anxiety and helps your heart maintain its health.
Note: This isn't necessarily a productivity tip, but it does positively impact your overall health and productivity
11. Once a week, take a cold shower
To offset the discomfort, sing! No, I'm not kidding. Taking a cold shower has been linked with weight loss and other health benefits. Scientists have actually discovered that when you shower with cold water, the brown fat in your body burns calories in order to keep you warm so you lose a few inches. This also activates your immune system and improves your circulation.
As far as productivity goes, taking a cold shower wakes you up and improves your mood, because all that blood rushes through your body and energizes you for the day.
12. Decide on your outfit on the previous night
Figuring out what you're going to wear on the next day can be a stressor for a lot of people, which it why deciding on what you're going to wear the previous night is a fantastic time-saver. A lot of successful people have something called a "personal uniform" which is just a collection of the same outfit so that they don't have to think about what they're going to wear. I don't like that.
If you're anything like me, then think about what you're going to wear the previous night, and set it all up so that you just have to get up and go.
13. Write down your goals and keep yourself accountable
And if you can, don't tell other people about it.
The thing about that is, if you tell too many people about your biggest personal goals, your mind will mistake the talking for doing, and will then conspire to sabotage you.
This isn't to say that you shouldn't tell anyone, but you can make it more real for yourself by bullet journaling your goal in a "habit tracker" and keeping score of your milestones that way, instead of simply wishing, mildly planning and hoping for the best!
14. Using Inbox by Gmail
I receive massive mental and productivity gains from getting down to a zero inbox every day. Inbox by Gmail is Google's left-brain take on an email program. It works with your existing Gmail account but looks at it in a different way. It bundles similar emails together by their purpose.
For instance, it bundles all of your travel emails together. It highlights each email, so you can see the contents without opening it, and you can even see things like flight updates and reservations statuses without opening the emails. It includes a task manager so that you can set yourself reminders.
Another major benefit is the ability to ‘snooze' emails which trigger them to resurface in your inbox at a pre-determined date & time. This makes you much more efficient at managing multiple projects at the same time because you can simply reschedule emails to pop back into your inbox (which means you need to address it) when it is a more suitable time to check it.
If you don't want to use a to-do app, then this is a fantastic alternative!
15. Charging your phone in another room
This is a pretty popular "life hack" that I'm sure you've heard of. If you drop your phone off in another room when you go to bed, you're less likely to look at it when you should be sleeping.
My vices include Twitter, Quora, Instagram and Snapchat when I should be sleeping, but by leaving my phone in a different room, I can at least sleep soundly, and when I wake up, I can get my tasks done before I remember that my phone is somewhere else and that, "I should go take a look at it."
16. Read a book before going to bed
I tried the "no screen time before going to bed" policy and my mind was still constantly wandering. So, I picked up a book.
While exposure to light from computing tablets significantly lowers the levels of melatonin which regulates your body's internal clock, reading your book will tire your brain out and ensure a good night's sleep.
This one was a game-changer for me:
Say yes so you can say no.
I'm sick and tired of the propaganda that's making every man and his dog believe they need to run 5 miles, do yoga, and drink a load of green stuff before 7am every morning to be successful. It's time to call BS!