9 Productivity Hacks for 2019 (Tested)
With 2019 in full swing and most new year’s resolutions already gathering dust, it’s time for a fresh dose of productivity hacks.
Instead of publishing just a random list of productivity tips, I thought what better way to see what actually works than trying them out myself.
I combed through a bunch of lists, some as long as 150, and narrowed it down to just 9 tips. All the below tips have been used whilst writing this article!
Table of Contents:
- Make Your
To-DoList the Night Before
- Random Number Generator
- Split Large Tasks into Smaller Tasks
- Remove Distractions
- The Pomodoro Technique
- Keep a Notepad
- Set a Hard Deadline
- Listen to Music
- Change of Scenery
1. Make Your To-do List The Night Before
A simple hack to start your day off right is to begin the night before by writing down your to-do list. You could also make your list in the morning, but should something come up that you didn’t account for, you can easily get sidetracked with “urgent” tasks and either not do a proper to do list or make one that focuses on the wrong things since it is harder to focus on the bigger picture when a lot of things demand your attention all at once.
2. Random Number Generator
A random number generator is great if you have a lot of tasks to do. Just type “random number generator” into Google, leave min as 1 and max as the number of tasks you have. It’s a perfect example of how gamification can work wonders for chores and work-related tasks.
I like to use this when I don’t have any urgent tasks and feel a bit unmotivated to do the rest in priority order but still want to get something done.
If you feel very unmotivated, add some fun tasks to the mix as well, such as reading a chapter from a book or watching an episode on Netflix. That way you know that from time to time you will be rewarded with a very easy and pleasant task. And hey, it could also be the first one you get 🙂
Just make sure not to add very long rewards or just put a time limit on them.
3. Split Large Tasks into Micro Tasks
In most cases, the hardest tasks are the biggest ones. They seem so daunting to get started on since you know it takes a long time, a lot of effort and most likely you aren’t even sure where to start.
Let’s say that your task is to start blogging. What is the first task you need to do? What tools do you need for it? Is there anything you need to research? Write down all your thoughts on this and you’ll see a task list forming.
If from that list some tasks still seem too scary, break them down again. Continue this until you are left with “Hey, this seems easy enough. I’ll do it right now.”
Here’s a really good Medium article on this topic: How Setting Daily Goals and Splitting Up Larger Tasks into Micro Ones Makes Your More Productive
4. Remove Distractions
We like to think that we can multitask but it’s been proven time and time again that we are pretty rubbish at it.
So next time you are working on a longer task, put your phone on silent and close all unnecessary tabs and apps on your computer. Yes, even Gmail. You might think that you won’t check your email, but if you see that “Inbox (1)” from the corner of your eye, it will distract you from the task at hand.
To minimize distractions from others put on a pair of headphones. Most people will not disturb you when wearing them unless it is an emergency, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
5. The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique gets its name from a kitchen timer. But you can use this without one as well, just search for a “Pomodoro timer” from the app store or use a regular timer on your phone.
This technique works by splitting your workday into 25-minute work bursts mixed with short 5-minute breaks in between. So if you have a really long task to do, put on a timer, focus all your energy for just this task for the next 25 uninterrupted minutes, grab a coffee / relax during your break and repeat this 4 times. No multitasking!
After completing 4 Pomodoros, you deserve a longer break (20-30 minutes). You can repeat this for eternity but I feel that I usually can’t do more than 3 chunks in one day. I don’t have enough energy and focus left to do another one.
6. Keep a Notepad
It is important to stay focused during Pomodoro sessions, but you can’t really stop random thoughts from popping up. In this case, the best you can do is keep a notepad with you at all times to get the thought from your mind to paper. That way you’ll be able to refocus and know that you won’t lose your ideas.
I also like to keep it by the bed to jot down ideas that sometimes keep me from falling asleep.
7. Set a Hard Deadline
If you have a deadline that is out of your control, such as an upcoming event, one that’s set by your boss/teacher, awesome! The pressure might not seem that good at first, but the fact that there are real consequences if you don’t deliver on time is the best sort of motivation you could ask for.
But if you are like me – work from home, no set deadlines, just a bunch of stuff that needs to get done eventually – you need a different approach. If you set a deadline for yourself, odds are you will find an excuse to not finish it by that time and keep on postponing it. You need to feel accountable for it.
For example, I scheduled this post to go live on the 18th of March. If I’m not ready by then, a half-finished article will be out there for everyone to see.
Another option is to have an accountability buddy. You both (or just you) will set a date for when you need to finish something and if you fail to deliver, there will be consequences. This will need to be worked out beforehand though. For example, if you don’t meet the deadline, you will pay for a fancy dinner or bring coffee to your buddy every morning 6am for the next week.
8. Listen to Music
Sometimes listening to music is all you need to get you in the flow. It could be anything from slow instrumental music to hard rock. For me personally, it’s motivating, empowering and yes, a bit cheesy pop songs that do the trick. Here’s a link to my Spotify playlist for work: Upbeat Songs for Work.
I know that many people can’t focus when they understand the lyrics, so an upbeat playlist in a foreign language might be a better fit. K-pop anyone?
9. Change of Scenery
Since remote work is becoming more and more popular, there is now an abundance of places to work from. Be it a traditional office, a local coffee shop or even your own couch.
Parts of this post was written at a coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on a transatlantic flight and a hotel lobby in Las Vegas, USA.
Changing your work environment works because it gives us a new perspective and the simple act of just going to a different place will give your mind time to recharge and refocus.
Putting it All Together
Although I find that these tips help me a lot, there will be times when it seems like nothing works.
To be honest, even this post itself went live a day before it was actually finished! (Thanks to the forced deadline I had.) But after I realized that it’s already live and ran out of excuses not to work on it, I quickly made my final edits and got it done.
What hacks have you used to get stuff done? Let us know in the comments below!