Five Hacks To Ignite Your Productivity In 2016
It’s the end of January. Chances are your good intentions for being more productive in 2016 have fallen by the wayside already. According to Statistic Brain, only 8% of Americans manage to stick to their New Years resolutions. I don’t know what the statistics are for us Brits, but I’m guessing it isn’t much better.
With getting organised ranked number two in the Top Ten New Years Resolutions, you’re going to need a bit of help if you want to get things done.
Here are my five favourite hacks to ignite your productivity for 2016:
Turn Off Your Notifications
Smartphone notifications are among the biggest productivity killers out there. According to The University of California Irvine, it can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track after a distraction. What does that mean? Every time you pick up your phone in the middle of a piece of work, it’ll take you half an hour to get back to where you were. And when you consider that the average person checks their phone 27 times a day, that’s a huge amount of lost time.
So, what can you do about it? The obvious step is to turn off your notifications. Do you need Facebook to keep telling you when your friends have posted some new crazy cat GIFs? I’m not talking about turning your shiny new 6S into a dumb phone like Jake Knapp did in an experiment at Gizmodo, just using notifications for their real purpose; letting you know about Urgent / Important tasks you need to focus on right now.
If you can’t bear to kill your notifications completely, then set “do not disturb” times where you can focus on the task you’ve got it hand. Don’t become a slave to your smartphone; use it to enhance your productivity, not reduce it.
Limit Your Work In Progress
I’ve been a GTD fan for years, but recently my system reached saturation point. With so many tasks on my plate, I was struggling to see the wood for the trees; to identify the biggest value task I should be working on. It didn’t matter that I had my tasks filtered by context; with more than 200 to get done, I was feeling overloaded.
So what changed? A Google search for alternative productivity methods led me to Personal Kanban. An ethos for work, rather than a method for getting things done, Personal Kanban has just two rules; visualise your work and limit your work in progress.
It sounds simple, but ditching my swamped Todoist setup in favour of a Trello board with a “Doing” column has transformed my productivity completely. I can’t work on 200 tasks at the same time, so why try? Finding my WIP sweet spot has been a huge eye-opener; I can’t evangelise the benefits of Personal Kanban enough.
Time-Block Your Most Important Tasks
Do you ever start your day with good intentions then find yourself clocking off without having achieved anything? In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talked about “Big Rocks”. What are the most important tasks you need to get done each week? How do you make room for them?
If you want to get things done, you’ve got to schedule time with yourself to do it. You can’t expect to find a window in your day. You’ve got to be proactive and take ownership of the 24 hours you’ve got in front of you.
There’s a reason the busiest people get loads done. They schedule blocks of time in their calendar to work on specific tasks. Plan your day in advance, book meetings with yourself and get stuck in; it’ll pay dividends.
Create A Theme For Each Day
This one’s from Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. Setting a theme for each day of your week makes it much easier to plan and time-block your most important tasks. Decide on a theme for each day and choose tasks which align with that theme. By grouping tasks together, you improve your chances of success. Here’s what my week looks like:
- Monday: Product
- Tuesday: Customer Experience
- Wednesday: Communication
- Thursday: Management & Leadership
- Friday: Strategy
- Saturday: Entertainment
- Sunday: Personal Development
Saturday and Sunday are also about family and relationships. To be at your best you’ve got to strike the right balance. Don’t neglect those closest to you for the sake of being productive.
Review Your Day
How do you know you’re being successful if you don’t take stock from time to time? GTD guru David Allen advocates the weekly review, but I prefer to check my progress on a daily basis.
At the end of each workday, I take fifteen minutes to think about what went well, what could have gone better and what I’ll do differently tomorrow. I rarely write more than a few lines, but it’s a great way to decompress from a busy workday and set yourself up for success.
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