6 Productivity Hacks You Should Try This Year

6 Productivity Hacks You Should Try This Year

6 Productivity Hacks You Should Try This YearAfter tools, I get most excited about little tricks I discover for saving time or getting more done. These are six of the discoveries I made last year that you may want to try:

#1 Make your environment inviting

I am extremely cold averse. As I was setting up a writing office in my basement, I kept thinking about the cold and about how unwilling I am to use my scrapbooking desk because it’s right by a door that lets all the cold air in. So I bought my own space heater that can direct warm air my way and HELLO, I’ve my fanny in my warm chair ever since.

Maybe temperature isn’t your problem, but lighting or seating is. Make the needed change and see if you aren’t more productive.

#2 Use a year-long wall calendar

I bought a jumbo, full-year, dry-erase calendar for the wall above my desk. Suddenly a year didn’t seem so long–especially when I added important dates like vacations, blog post deadlines, and goals. The advantage of seeing time this way is I am less likely to procrastinate! It’s also easier not to overload your calendar when you see the big picture. I originally planned to write two blog posts a week. When I saw it on the wall, I realized that would mean much less accomplished on my homeschool curriculum. I cut back my planned blog frequency for most weeks to one.

#3 Get more sleep

When I did Body for Life, I cut my sleep back to seven hours. I really did feel great during that 12 weeks, but I convinced myself that I only needed seven hours of sleep. Truth is, most of the time, it ended up being six to six and a half. I was wrong about what I needed physically and emotionally. As hard as it is for me to be sleeping by 10 p.m., I have been sleeping from 10-6 consistently for some time now and I feel amazing! I feel really stupid that I was making such an obvious mistake. I no longer feel exhausted by afternoon and am still productive.

#4 Randomize tasks when motivation fails

There are times when I just don’t feel like doing what I’ve scheduled for the day. This is especially true the later in the day it is and the more tasks I feel I need to do. At these times, I go to Random.org or use the iPhone app and generate a random number using the number of tasks I want to address as my range. The rule is I have to do at least something on whichever task I land on. If I can’t do that task for some reason, I do the next one on the list. This method has the advantage of helping me to complete tasks I would ordinarily procrastinate on.

Give it a try!

#5 Do the most important things in the morning

I kept thinking I didn’t have time to write curriculum (one of my most important things) in the morning. I work out, eat breakfast, chat with my husband, do personal devotions, and shower first thing before doing chores and homeschooling. I saved my writing time for the afternoons and it worked! I was motivated and energetic to write in the early afternoons. The problem was that something else always seemed to crop up in the afternoon, so I couldn’t write. I realized that those other activities wouldn’t interfere with my writing time if I did it early morning.

So I decided to workout in the basement and immediately go to my basement writing desk. It worked! I consistently get an hour of writing in during early mornings. I did have to give something up and that was chatting with my husband. For many people that wouldn’t be a wise tradeoff, but my husband works out of our home. I talk with him all day, including a little later in the morning. He enjoys reading his Bible and the paper while I write.

#6 Organize by day

I used to do certain types of tasks on particular days of the week and I got away from it. It makes life so much easier and more efficient. When a finance-related email comes in, it’s dated for Mondays. I can do them all in batches without adding a context tag or wondering when a good day is to do them. I am also doing blogging tasks on Thursdays. Everything else that isn’t urgent is ignored. What an amazing feeling of peace that gives me! To top it off, I feel like I have an abundance of time to get my tasks done. Trying to do a big mix of tasks adds to my feeling of overwhelm.

What productivity hacks are you crazy about?

This post is part of a 5-day series on productivity favorites. You may enjoy the other 5 Day Hopscotch posts from iHomeschool Network bloggers. Check them out!

5 Days of iHomeschool Network goodness!

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5 Days of Productivity Favorites

5 Days of Productivity Favorites

productivity, best productivity books, best productivity blogs, best productivity podcasts, best productivity tools, best productivity hacksI love to write about productivity and miss the Year of Living Productively series and some of the great articles that followed like these:

6 Important Habits for Getting More Done

A Better Daily, Weekly, Monthly To Do List

Get More Done With a 1-Thing To Do List

Motivation for Doing What’s Most Important Today

But for me, this is a year of being truly productive and realizing the dream of writing and publishing my own curriculum. (For you homeschoolers and parents with kids in elementary school, I will share more as soon as I can.) For now, I came up with a compromise. This week I will share 5 posts about my productivity favorites of the year. These are the books, websites, podcasts, tools, and hacks that I loved (that didn’t necessarily come out last year) that I think you might enjoy too.

I am including all five links below:

6 Productivity Books You Should Read This Year

6 Productivity Blogs You Should Read This Year

6 Productivity Podcasts You Should Listen to This Year

6 Productivity Tools You Should Try This Year

6 Productivity Hacks You Should Try This Year

I would love to hear your favorites!

You may enjoy the other 5 Day Hopscotch posts from iHomeschool Network bloggers. Check them out!

5 Days of iHomeschool Network goodness!


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Roles & Goals: Lessons in Productivity from the 7 Habits

Roles & Goals: Lessons in Productivity from the 7 Habits

Lessons in ProductivityThis is a guest post by Tim Sprosen from the UK who is a medical researcher at the University of Oxford, a husband and father and writes about his productivity journey at www.timsprosen.com. In this post, Tim returns to the wisdom of Covey’s 7-habits to remind us all that being productive is not just about getting things done.

Stephen Covey’s 7-Habits of Highly Effective People was first published 25 years ago and I can still recall the day when I picked it up from a newsstand at Chicago’s O’Hare airport before catching a flight back home to London. This book had a profound impact on my approach to time management. As well as providing a practical framework for personal organization, where Covey clearly identified the next seven days as being the ideal period of time to plan and organize – the genesis of the weekly review – the book also recommended taking a very top-down approach to organization.

What that means is working out first and writing down what is important to you before dealing with the day-to-day tasks and other demands on your time. Unfortunately, as I recently pointed out, so much discussion of productivity today and, in particular, the false hopes of technology – what I call the app-trap – is entirely focused on task management. It is like we are relentlessly trying to run a little bit faster without first stopping to work out where we are heading (and also who we are heading there with – keep reading…).

But, what I think was really ground breaking about the book, particularly at a time when so much of the “success” literature was only concerned with money and material things, was the focus on building character and being more concerned with people rather than things. In practical terms, this meant drawing up a mission statement that included identifying the key roles in your life and then on a weekly basis reviewing each of these roles and setting the key things you want to achieve in that role for the coming week. While I am no fan of the concept of work-life balance, organizing your week around your key roles really helps to bring actual balance to life.

Let me give an example. Let’s say the coming week I am traveling with work and will be away from home. Looking at my role as a husband and a father, I might set goals in those roles to book a table to have dinner with my wife when I return home and in the role of father I might make a note to pick up a gift for each of my children while I am away. Then when I look at my role of son this reminds me to make a note to call my mum before I go away. This simple list of my key roles, which I look at each week, really serves me well and like any productivity tip, it means I don’t need to worry about trying to keep these reminders in my head.

So, for the week ahead, try looking at the things you want to get done not just in terms of your tasks and goals, but also through your key roles. Why I invest time in my personal productivity is very simple; it is to spend more of my time and energy on those people and things that matter most to me.

[Melanie here. I couldn’t agree with Tim more and his post was very timely for me. Was it for you?]

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