The Internet is chock-full of productivity tips, with new hacks developed every day. But once you do enough research on the subject, you realize that many of the tips sound the same. That’s why we scoured the web for 30 productivity tips you might not have heard of before.
1) Buy an hourglass.
Lots of us use timers to break up our tasks into manageable chunks. But how many times have you turned over your cell phone to panic about how little time you have yet? Invest in a couple of hourglasses that measure different times. You can see immediately how much time you have left, without having to calculate what you can get done.
Just like the rest of us, Jerry Seinfeld has days he doesn’t want to write. So he marks an X on each day he does write on a big wall calendar. After several days of writing, the Xes form a chain – and he keeps writing because he doesn’t want to break the chain. Use this technique for a tedious yet necessary task, or to help implement a new habit.
4) Automate your technology.
Did you know that you can automate your phone and computer to change settings at certain times? Play a song to help wake you up, or program your email to only open at set intervals. Try Start My Day for Windows, Automator for Mac, and Tracker for Android. iPhones are just a little bit more complicated.
5) Hack your subconscious.
Stuck on a big problem? Let your subconscious do the work for you, as described here. It works for Woody Allen, who takes multiple showers a day.
6) Start new projects immediately.
Common sense states that once you finish one big project, you ought to take a break and celebrate. But jumping right into the next one can help you maintain your working momentum. That’s why several authors, like Henry James, started new books immediately after finishing the one before.
Speaking of meetings, show up on time if you have them! Too many people wander into meetings five minutes late. Keep everybody’s schedule on track and don’t be late.
9) Try standing up.
Ever been caught up in an unwanted conversation with a coworker? If they’re by your desk, just stand up as if you’re heading to the bathroom. They’ll notice you’re about to leave and follow suit.
10) Use headphones.
You can also avoid conversation in the first place by putting on headphones, which will signal to others that you’re busy. Play music, white noise or just use them as a silent noise deterrent.
11) Make your electronics work for you.
Working in a coffee shop? Try leaving your charger at home, and force yourself to complete the task before the battery runs out.
12) Find a productivity buddy.
Just like going to the gym is easier with a friend, you’re more likely to get things done when someone else is holding you accountable. Every morning, tell your buddy what you’ll get done, then tell them what you’ve accomplished later that day. Bonus points if it’s someone who really cares what you’re doing, like your boss.
13) Swap your scenery.
A change of scenery does wonders for your motivation, so work outside or in a coffee shop if you can. Stuck in the office? Simply switching desks for the day with a colleague will expose you to fresh neighbors and ideas.
14) Plan your meals in advance.
You won’t achieve optimal productivity if your body isn’t in tip-top shape, and that won’t happen when you eat TV dinners every night. Plan your meals for the week in advance, then shop and prep accordingly. Try cooking in bulk and freezing your leftovers to save even more time in the future. Your body, wallet and boss will thank you.
15) Watch a funny video.
Boss won’t approve? Simply inform him/her that happy employees are 30% more productive, and laughter is one of the quickest and most effective ways to boost your mood. Try one of these channels.
Another way to boost employee happiness (and productivity) is to express gratitude. Learn how to do so quickly here.
18) Use your breaks wisely.
We know breaks are essential for productivity, but are you using them well? Don’t fall down the Facebook rabbit hole or watch TV. Stand up, walk around and chat with a colleague or two. Keep your brain active to perpetuate your productive momentum.
19) Ditch the sugar.
We’ve written before about how unhealthy processed sugar is for you, but did you know it could also be killing your productivity? Eliminating sugar from your diet can get rid of those after-lunch slumps, keeping you at the top of your game all day.
20) Group tasks by location.
If you work from home, this is a great way to boost productivity. Assigning specific locations to specific tasks will limit the time spent on each task and help you remain in a productive mindset. Try only writing at your desk, or checking email at the kitchen counter. If you work in an office, this is harder, so try this with multiple devices. For example, only check email on your phone.
21) Ask for help.
We’ve been trained to think that asking for help means we’re failing. But it’s better to ask for help than to overwhelm your brain. Can’t get a task done? Delegate it elsewhere.
22) Eat at the same time every day.
Willpower is a finite resource that’s depleted throughout the day. Essentially, this means the fewer minor decisions you have to make every day, the more brainpower you have left for the important decisions. Start by eating at the sometime every day, and implement more habits as needed.
23) Find productivity models.
We all know someone who seems incredibly busy and yet is always at the top of his/her game. Interview this model of productivity, and see what techniques how can apply to your own life.
24) Make it fun.
Some tasks are incredibly tedious, so add an element to make it fun. Try color-coding your notes from a boring meeting.
25) Race yourself.
We all love winning, so set up a contest against yourself. Estimate how long you need to complete a task, and push yourself to finish it faster.
26) Start a polyphasic sleep schedule.
If you’re like most people, you sleep for one stretch of 6-8 hours. But what if you slept for shorter periods throughout the day? Learn about polyphasic sleep schedules here.
27) Assign yourself an impossible task.
Seem counterproductive? Think again. Your brain is like a muscle, so working on an impossible task overwhelms it and expands it – so everything you do afterwards seems incredibly easy in comparison.
28) Make the task harder.
Making boring tasks harder is a great way to engage your brain and perhaps have a creative breakthrough.