My plans for 2020 have made me think a lot about ways to maximise productivity – there are only so many days in the year, and so many hours per day… and there’s only one me! As a working parent, it can sometimes be challenging to juggle work and home life. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes the unexpected happens and something unplanned takes all of our time and attention. Even if you’re not a working parent, you may be juggling two jobs, a side-hustle or three, a time-consuming hobby or charitable work so these top productivity hacks will be just as relevant for you as they are for me.
Here are my top 10 productivity hacks to help you stay sane and in control!
- Have a morning routine
Apparently, you’re most productive in the first two hours after waking up – so make the most of this time if you can – even if this means getting up before the rest of your household! If you’re really not an early bird then it’s a good idea to work out the best time of day for you to be able to focus. Review what’s on your agenda, define your priorities and anything else you would like to achieve (if the time allows) and then get to work!
- Don’t multi-task!
I always write down everything I need to do and then set myself my top three tasks. After this, I focus on one of these three at a time… and then I set the next three. I’d advise forgetting the rest of your to do list during this time, as it’s just a distraction. You’re only really able to give your energy to one thing at a time and even if you’re a great multi-tasker this can slow down your efficiency.
- Set clear boundaries
You’ll achieve more if you set clear boundaries, so when you need to focus, make sure that it’s clear that everyone knows not to disturb you. If you’re in an open-plan office, then this could mean arriving before your co-workers, finding a quiet spot or wearing headphones if your working culture allows. If you’re working from home, then it’s a good idea to communicate about your deadlines and working activities. For example, you may not have time to run errands, prepare snacks for the children and receive parcels for neighbours!
- Opt for peace and quiet
You’ll get more done if you can totally focus on the task at hand, so turn off all notifications – both on your laptop and mobile phone. Hide your phone if you have to!
- Take regular breaks
Studies have shown that you can achieve more, if you take regular breaks: 15 minute breaks after every 45-60 minutes of work. You’ll stay more alert and feel better if you use these break times to go outside and stretch your muscles – so have a quick walk in the fresh air.
- Break goals down into manageable chunks
Having a big future-based goal is great, but it can also lead to overwhelm and disappointment, especially if you feel you’re taking too long to get to that desired end result. Look to break all of your goals down into small manageable chunks, so you can easily reach them and celebrate those smaller achievements. Perhaps you could add these short-term goals to your diary to make sure you stay on track?
- Take stock regularly
It can be easy to get so focused on work, you forget to take the time to acknowledge how far you’ve come, so look to take stock regularly. Not only will this give you the chance to celebrate what you’ve achieved and perhaps show gratitude to those who have helped, it’s also the perfect time to check you’re heading in the right direction. Are you on track to meet your long-term goals?
- Plan ahead!
Spend 15 minutes at the end of each day, preparing your task list for the following day. This helps you to make sure anything that needs carrying over is remembered, plus it helps you to switch off at the end of each day. If you’ve got a busy week ahead, then it’s a good idea to set out your plans on a Sunday evening. What are the tools that you need to have in place to make sure that you have a great week?
- Don’t be a hero…
You don’t have to do everything yourself – whether it’s home or work related. Could a cleaner help to bring a little serenity to your home? Are you spending too much time developing your businesses in an area in which you don’t excel? Ideally, you should be left with only those tasks and projects you either love and/or are your key strengths. Consider how much you value your own time and then have a think about what you could drop.
- Batch your tasks
For everyday, routine tasks in your personal or professional life, group them together. For example, this could be answering emails, making phone calls, doing expenses… the momentum gained by batching together similar tasks will ensure that you are more productive. It’s a similar principle to batch cooking (of which I’m a big fan!)
What’s your favourite productivity tip for staying in control of your business and sanity? Have we already listed it above or is it something you want to add to our list? Why not share your hints, tips and hacks in the comments box below!