It might still be a struggle for you to meet deadlines, manage others, and host meetings when you're steps away from the couch (where you wind down for the night). As a result, you’re working through the night–every night–to make up for the hours you spent scrolling through your social media feed in the afternoon. That’s an issue. But how do you go about fixing it? Here are 5 of the smartest productivity hacks.
#1 – Use time blocking to manage your day
Your brain can only concentrate on one complex task at a time, and each time you switch context to work on something else (even if it's to reply a Slack thread), you dilute the quality of your work. What you want to do is break your daily schedule into set time-controlled units (i.e. time blocking). For example, 60 minutes to work on a client pitch and 10 minutes for a check-in meeting. This prevents you from spending a disproportionate amount of time on low-value tasks, like admin and email.
#2 – Turn your Wi-Fi off
For many of us, distractions are just a click away. Turning your Wi-Fi off prevents you from going down the rabbit hole of checking your friend's latest Instagram updates and Tinder messages. And if you can't afford to go offline for your work? Enter distraction-blocking software. Turn focus apps like Freedom and Serene on, and you literally can’t access anything distracting.
#3 – Create a dedicated workspace
Can't concentrate on getting anything done when you can see dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and Amazon boxes that need to be kept away? Then you have to set up a dedicated workspace. Ideally, this should be a separate room where you can close the door since this signals to your house members (i.e. partner, kids, roommates) that you shouldn't be disturbed. But if that's not an option, at least choose an area that can be clear of clutter–and, therefore, distractions.
#4 – Set and maintain your regular hours
When you're away from the office, it's more crucial than ever that you set specific working hours–and stick to them. Do not wake up at 11 am and end up working till 2 am to make up for the lost time. Doing so reinforces the unhealthy cycle of waking up and sleeping late. Your mental and physical health can take a severe hit from doing this over the long-term. So, make sure you set clear boundaries about your working time. Work from 8 am to 5 pm–then knock off. Avoid scrimping on sleep!
#5 – Keep your to-do list focused
Cut down on the number of tasks that are making it onto your list. The key thing is to only work on truly valuable tasks–that actually advance you toward your overarching goals–instead of what's urgent. So, be very careful about adding tasks to your to-do list; only select 3 to 5 that are genuinely important (i.e. not things like 'get to inbox zero') and focus on them.
Used to writing your to-do list on an A4 paper (and filling it up)? This is where the Daily Routine Journal can help. We’ve provided only 5 lines for the ‘To-Do List’ section, so you make progress on what truly matters. Find out how others have supercharged their productivity with the journal here.