9 life hacks to using your 8 working hours to the max
Feeling overwhelmed? Everyone sometimes feels that there’s too much work which certainly cannot be accomplished in 8 hours.
The solution may be adopting better habits. These nine changes will help you maximize your productivity.
1. Carefully plan and track your activities
Plan your whole day — activity by activity (to the most specific details) in some kind of an app like Nozbe where you and your whole team have immediate overview over all the tasks.
If you define not only a ‘to-do’ list, but also a ‘not-to-do’ list, it will help you get rid of tasks which cause you stress, harm, and are not very profitable.
For the next month, measure all your activities to see where your time and money are being wasted. Try tools like Clevork to find out how to optimize and allocate your resources better.
2. Train your mind to be like a zen buddhist monk (or a productivity ninja)
You won’t accomplish a lot of work if you permanently struggle with it. But that’s exactly what an untrained mind constantly does. Your thoughts run all over the place. How will I pay the mortgage? What am I going to cook for dinner today? I should start going to the gym….
A great way of training yourself to focus on what you currently need to do, is meditation. Meditation will also help you deal with stress and bad mood — both enemies of productivity. Not too many people these days have time to go to a Shaolin monastery or Ashram to learn meditation for three months. But there’s a solution, even for the average, busy, and bustling man of the 21st century. It’s called Headspace. Headspace is an app which will show you how to meditate for 10-15 minutes a day, and still get results like a trained zen buddhist monk.
3. Do something little for your healthy life every day
There are some pieces of advice you have heard so many times that it becomes annoying. But sometimes good old common sense is the best possible tip you can get. One of the most important life hacks for increasing productivity is a healthy lifestyle.
It starts with getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep (and dreaming) will ruin everything from your brain activities (creativity, memory, thinking, decision making) to relationships and health. So try to sleep well, eat healthy, and exercise a bit every day. A few minutes a day now will make a tremendous difference later on.
4. Limit your daily amount of caffeine
Don’t drink coffee six hours before you go to sleep. This is how long caffeine stays in your bloodstream and will affect the appropriate proportion of your REM and NREM sleep — which has an impact on creativity and memory.
5. Eliminate all time consumers
Don’t get distracted by things with little or no consequence until your high-priority work is done. Completely disconnect from the Internet if it’s not absolutely necessary for doing your job. No TV, no emails, no social media, no newspapers, no books, no web surfing, no notifications.
Just play calm and melodious music in the background if it doesn’t distract you. Check your emails with high priority just twice a day — prior to lunch and again at around 4:00 PM. Create email auto response with an apology to your customers or colleagues that due to high workloads you respond to emails just twice a day.
Your most important task should be completed by 11:00 am.
6. Learn to draw everything
Don’t just put your thoughts on paper in a descriptive way. People generally tend to think more visually than in any other way.
You don’t have to be Picasso. Just draw some basic shapes like circles, triangles, squares or stickmen to express your thoughts.
This will speed up your creativity and thinking. Simple pictures are even faster and more powerful way to present your ideas to your customers or colleagues.
7. Try to play more instead of working
This may sound childish for “a serious and busy grown-up”. We often forget that gamesomeness was once the best and most natural attitude for us to learn new things and acquire skills.
Approaching uncomfortable duties like they are a game will help you overcome excuses and negative emotions.
8. Inspire yourself by the work of others
Every problem was once solved by someone else. If you are stuck with a task, just look on the Internet or ask people around you. Don’t violate the copyrights, just get inspiration from patterns, techniques, solutions, ideas, and try to create your own.
9. Put down all your ideas on paper (or a record)
Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re in the shower or brushing your teeth. Always have a little notepad or a recorder with you to mark down thoughts which can be useful later in work when managing your overwhelming workload.
These things are easy to say, but hard to do. Go step by step. Take the first rule and keep doing it until it’s automatic, and then take next and the next. Small improvements every day will make a huge difference. After some time you will get more and more things done, and suddenly you’ll realize that you live a happier, more balanced life.
Photo: Flickr / Ben Wightman CC BY 2.0