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Friday afternoon just feels like an appropriate time to publish a post about productivity, doesn’t it? Today’s article features tips and advice from Chris Bailey, writer of A Year of Productivity. This fantastically helpful blog offers all kinds of things the author learned during the yearlong experiment he conducted after graduating from business school. The blog is definitely worth perusing, but today we’re going to look productivity tips from the article 100 time, energy, and attention hacks to be more productive. 

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Here are 15 productivity hacks that really stood out to us:

1. Make sure your goals are SMART. You may recognize this acronym from articles about marketing plans encouraging you to keep your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based.

2. Remember that perfect is the enemy of good. This is a close relative of the saying that done is better than perfect. When you find yourself on the brink of completing a task but you’re unable to cross the finish line, bear in mind that sometimes it’s better to get something out the door and improve it after the fact.

3. Say no to energy- and time-zapping commitments. Take a look at the ways you are spending you time. If you can identify activities or people that negatively affect your energy, consider limiting your exposure.

4. Schedule a maintenance day. Instead of spreading all of your chores out throughout the week and interrupting yourself with them, set aside a day when you know you’ll get them all done so you can forget about it.

5. Keep emails to 5 sentences or less. This is a personal favorite of mine. I really feel that anything that you can’t express in 5 sentences warrants a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. Don’t waste time writing an email you’ll probably have to end up explaining in person anyway.

6. Quit multitasking. This advice has become popular in recent years. Work in sequential tasks and you will be less likely to make mistakes. When people tell me they are great at multitasking, it makes me suspect that they are bad at prioritizing.

7. Make your bad habits more expensive. This can be something light-hearted like a swear jar with friends, or more long-term like putting money in your retirement account for some infraction.

8. Download the Coffitivity app. According to Coffitivity’s website, the mix of calm and commotion in a coffee house environment is ideal for sparking creativity. You can listen to a variety of coffee house tracks only, or layer in music from your favorite source. (I’m using it right now – it’s pretty great.)

9. Speaking of coffee, drink it strategically. When caffeine becomes a habit, it loses its effectiveness. Try being strategic about when and how much you consume it, instead of drinking it at a specific time every day.

10. Set your thermostat between 70 and 72 degrees at work. This applies mostly to those with home offices or who run their own business. Studies show that this is the optimal temperature for productivity (65 degrees is best for sleeping).

11. Shrink tasks you resist down to manageable times. If you find yourself resisting the idea of reading a marketing book for 30 minutes, try telling yourself you have to do it for 10. If you still feel resistant, try 5. Once it becomes a habit, you can try ratcheting up the time.

12. Respond to emails in batches. There is rarely an email emergency. If it truly can’t wait, the sender will probably call you. Set aside time each hour or every few hours to respond to emails all at once so you don’t keep getting pulled away.

13. Reward yourself. People are motivated by rewards, so figure out what matters to you and set up a system that rewards you for accomplishing tasks that are not your favorites.

14. Turn off unnecessary alerts. While you probably don’t take the time to act on every alert that pops up on your phone or computer, stopping what you’re doing long enough to read them can really add up. Also, if you are getting alerts that you’re not acting on right away, why do you need to be alerted about that thing?

15. Look at pictures of cute baby animals. I’m relieved to see that this habit made the list of good practices. According the Bailey’s article, this can improve cognitive and motor function. Just plan your baby animal time wisely into your day.

6 Responses

  1. Reply
    Jul 19, 2014 - 10:30 AM

    My Facebook personal profile page was something I had to set aside because of time consumption. None of us want to ignore people that we know or who know of us enough to make comments and send messages. But that’s the whole point! Receiving multiple messages or those ongoing conversations can really put a serious pinch on productivity time. I can still read post when I choose to only now I don’t get involved and that saves time on a major level calculating in just a one month time period. There are other very helpful suggestions I intend to implement as well. Thanks for this post.

  2. Reply
    Ted Hart
    Jul 19, 2014 - 04:01 PM

    Hi, Sarah M.!

    I have a problem … I am a “newbie” on this and I cannot even understand your terms.
    Is there an English only version? Or, perhaps you might glance at my efforts ( to see if / why I am not getting anywhere.
    Google does recognize my site ( head of a page) but … nothing.
    What am I not doing?
    Ted Hart /

    • Reply
      Sarah Matista
      Jul 24, 2014 - 07:56 PM

      Hi Ted! Have you explored our support community? If you haven’t found the answers you’re looking for there, definitely contact the support team!

  3. Reply
    bàn thí nghi?m
    Jul 20, 2014 - 10:18 PM

    If you want to increase your performance and results in a given area, find some people to join you — or just have them watch you. Ideally, find people who are a tad out of your league.

    I recently had a rather enlightening — and rewarding — personal experience with the advantage of social facilitation.

  4. Reply
    Aug 28, 2016 - 10:59 AM

    Great tips 🙂


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