When you search for help in productivity, you’ll often find tips on creating accountability, making better to-do lists, and managing stress. Those are helpful things to work on (we know, we wrote articles about them!). But what many don’t realize is that there are easy (but not obvious) fixes hidden in plain sight. In this article we’ll discuss four of them which will help you become even more productive.
There are bills that need to be paid each month, that don’t change in amount, and aren’t really up for debate as to whether you will pay them. These include rent, electricity, internet, utilities, etc. These should definitely be set on some kind of autopay so that you don’t have to dedicate any time or energy to dealing with them. Almost all the companies you pay recurring bills to will offer some kind of automatic payment mechanism. Take advantage of this free feature to get rid of some unnecessary time you’ve been spending paying bills that you have to pay anyway. This will free up time for you to deploy in more important areas.
Use Block Scheduling
Cal Newport successfully made the case in his book Deep Work that not only is multitasking a lie, but that without blocks of “deep work,” it’s impossible to build anything of importance or substance. Deep work is simply uninterrupted time dedicated to a specific task. Uninterrupted means no interruptions. That’s no
- push notifications
- text messages
- phone calls
- (delicious) snack breaks
Just work. When you set aside “quality time” for deep work, you’ll be surprised that a little bit goes a long way. Make sure that you have blocks for deep work at least every week, if not every day.
Another easily missed opportunity to improve your productivity is taking the time to commemorate your wins and reward yourself. Work shouldn’t be just paying bills, but should instead be a way for you to contribute meaningfully to the world with your skills and talent. Giving yourself small wins using your own love language can give you the bit of relaxation you need to come back to a problem more creatively. Perhaps it’s getting yourself a chocolate or a latte. Maybe it’s buying something you’ve had on a list for a while. Or even booking some trips. Research shows that spending time in other cultures helps change and shape our neural pathways. Vacation as a way to boost productivity? Yup.
As Chris Reynolds says in our High-Performance Productivity Course, “if you’re never fully off, you’ll never be fully on.” We need to take time to really be with our friends and family or as we alluded to above, really be with our work via deep work. Sometimes that takes a ritual, like literally saying the words, “shutting down for today,” while closing your laptop. It might be a walk you take at the end of the day to symbolize that you’re finished. It might even be something as simple as putting your phone away upstairs so you can’t see notifications or be distracted from being “off.” Again, if you don’t take the time to be fully “off,” you’re never going to perform at your best by being fully “on.”
None of these productivity hacks are complicated. In fact, we may have missed them in the past because they were right in front of us. But they are simple and straightforward ways to get away from the distractions of the world and get back to the core of who we are: our best selves.