Thanks to social media, mobile phones, apps and all the other distractions of modern technology, it’s a wonder anyone gets anything done these days! Although the Internet and related technologies have made it easier for people to communicate and access information, they’re also a huge obstacle to productivity and efficiency.
To make matters worse, research shows that, once distracted, it takes the human brain an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on track. Which isn’t good news as far as your job is concerned!
If you’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you’re not quite as productive as you could be, this free time management test will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.
But don’t worry; however easily distracted you are, if you’re determined and willing to put in some effort to improve your productivity, you can change! Here are some easy ways you can ‘trick yourself’ into pumping up your productivity:
1. List it
Forget everything you may have read about dumping your ‘to do’ list – lists have the power to transform your life from a disordered shambles into a powerhouse of activity! Set aside 15 to 20 minutes every night to create a list of priorities for the next day.
That way, you’ll stay on track with your tasks and get a nice warm glow of accomplishment every time you tick off an item on your schedule. This is probably the oldest productivity hack in the book but it works very well.
2. Switch off your phone
According to research, the average person spends two hours of their day on social media – that’s a whopping 5 years and 4 months out of their entire life! And if you keep your mobile phone or tablet on your desk or next to you in your bag, you’re just asking to be distracted. One ‘ping’ of a notifications can distract you from your work – and before you know it, you’re browsing on social media and have forgotten all about that looming deadline.
Let’s face it, if you reduce your social media time, you’ll be a lot more productive. Switch off your devices (or if you can’t do that, at least turn off notifications) while you’re working. Instead, schedule 15 minutes two or three times a day to catch up on social media between tasks. Try it and see how much more you get done!
3. Take advantage of productivity apps
Modern technology may be the problem – but it can also be the solution! There are loads of great productivity apps available online that can help you stay on track with your work. These apps allow you to schedule tasks, make lists, set alarms, set timers, and perform other such actions.
You can also use them to block access to social media and silence calls and notifications. If you can find ways of living in a distraction-free zone while you work, you’ll be much more productive.
4. Don’t put things off
If you’re putting off that difficult task, you can persuade yourself that you’re doing the right thing by getting on with smaller, easier wins. However, there’s a body of research that suggests that difficult tasks are best tackled early on in the day. Trying to tackle a difficult and challenging project when you’re tired hampers your productivity and can slow your progress down.
Instead, schedule the most difficult and challenging tasks early in the day when you’re well-rested and fresh. This ensures your workload at the end of the day is light and easy, so you can get through it quickly without slowing down or feeling frustrated by the tasks before you. It makes sense!
5. Time chunk your schedule
Working on a big project can be exhausting and mentally taxing. However, if you break it down to small bite-sized pieces, you’ll have an easier time going through it. This is how ‘time-chunking’ works – you assign a certain amount of time on certain days for certain tasks. It’s up to you whether you time chunk into hours, days or even weeks.
For example, you might set aside an hour each morning to answer emails, or maybe one day each week to focus on accounts work. Whatever works for you, works!
6. Try the (10+2)*5 Hack
If all else fails and you still can’t get on top of your work, the (10+2)*5 productivity hack was created by American podcaster Merlin Mann specifically with procrastinators and the easily distracted in mind!
How it works is that you schedule 10 minutes of work followed by 2 minutes of break. You work hard on one task for 10 minutes, then allow yourself 2 minutes to do whatever you want before moving onto the next task.
This process is multiplied by 5 to fill in the hour. The idea is that this tricks your brain into focusing on work, because you’re allowing yourself guilt-free breaks, and what happens is that you eventually start to skip your break schedules and work for longer periods of time. Does it work? Why not try it and see!
As you can see, by switching off social media and having a think about how best to structure your time, anyone can become more productive and work efficiently.
These hacks should help put your work back on track. And once you’re working productively, you’ll wonder how you ever lived in such chaos – honestly. Turn off your phone, start planning – and off you fly!