It’s frustrating to get to the end of the day and feel like nothing you wanted to get done was accomplished. There are constantly so many distractions that you may not even realize they’re happening. To help you regain your focus, here are 5 simple productivity hacks that will change your life.
This is a guest post from my friend Julianna. Julianna is a professional declutterer and writer at The Simplicity Habit. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters. She began writing to share her journey and to encourage others who want to simplify their lives.
5 SIMPLE PRODUCTIVITY HACKS
- Set your goals
- Reassess your schedule
- Plan ahead
- Focus on your priorities
- Stack your habits
SET YOUR GOALS
Your first simple productivity hack is to set your goals. You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where it is you want to get to. Start by taking the time to think through your goals. This step is imperative.
Imagine that you want Google Maps to give you directions. You have to give it a destination or it has no way of knowing which streets to go on and what directions you need to take to get there. What is your desired destination?
Vague goals aren’t very helpful either. To maximize your likelihood of success, you need specific and measurable goals. I like the SMART method. This approach gives you a framework for setting clearer and more focused goals.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. To read more about the SMART goals method and to get a free SMART goal worksheet, check out my post HERE. The worksheet will help you think through and plan your goals.
REASSESS YOUR SCHEDULE
Does your current schedule match up with your goals for your life? It’s so easy to get caught up in a default life. Different things are asked of you constantly and it can be hard to say no, particularly if you’re a people pleaser.
There are various reasons why your life may be busy and cluttered. The problem comes when you spend all of your time doing things you didn’t intend to do and you don’t have time left for the things that matter most to you.
There are always a variety of events, obligations, and opportunities being presented to you. With social media, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out. But when you say yes often, you’re still missing out. It may be the things you need most like rest and time with family that you’re missing out on by being so busy with all of the other commitments. Every yes you give to something by default means no to something else.
This second simple productivity hack is to take some time to reassess your schedule and think through your commitments. If you want to be able to work on your goals and be more productive, you need to set aside the time and space to be able to focus on the tasks that go along with that.
After you’ve created some space in your life, your next simple productivity hack is to set aside time to plan.
“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”― Brian Tracy
Planning your day simply and effectively takes some practice, but if you stick with it and set aside time regularly to plan the upcoming day or week you will notice results. When you plan ahead you’re able to be more efficient and purposeful with your time.
While you’re planning, keep in mind what your priorities are for that period of time. Planning gives you the ability to set your priorities intentionally ahead of time. It helps you to be purposeful with your time and keeps your goals at the forefront.
Planning also provides clarity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to ‘work’ without a plan and then wasted hours getting distracted by various things because I didn’t have a clear intent to begin with. When you designate time in your schedule for a specific task, you make it clear what you will be working on for that time block.
FOCUS ON YOUR PRIORITIES
Planning ahead helps you set aside time for your most important tasks. When you are in those time blocks, the most important thing you need to do is focus. This may seem like a simple productivity hack, but it may be the most challenging one to actually do.
We’ve become so used to being distracted so much of the time that we hardly know what it feels like anymore to spend a significant amount of time focusing. Instead, we try to multitask by jumping from one thing to the next. And the result? Typically fewer things accomplished and a less than optimal result.
About a month ago, I challenged myself to spend a three-hour time block (when my husband and children would be gone) to focus on one single task, writing. Two things really surprised me after those three hours were over. One was how difficult it was to stay focused on the task. I was so tempted numerous time to just check Facebook ‘real quick’.
However, I kept forcing myself to focus and didn’t allow myself to give in to the distraction temptations. The second most surprising thing was how much I can accomplish in three hours when I don’t let myself get distracted!
I never would have guessed that I could have come up with ideas for twenty different posts and have outlines for all of them. And how could I have known that without the experience of making myself stay on task? Try focusing. It’s challenging and takes practice, but it works.
STACK YOUR HABITS
One easy way to work towards your goals and be more productive is to work not only on your schedule but also on your habits. I recently finished reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and learned simple ways to change your habits. One of my favorite ways that he mentions is called habit stacking, which is your last simple productivity hack.
The idea behind habit stacking is that you are taking a habit that you already have and stacking a new habit you want with it. It feels less effortful to start a new habit when you are pairing it alongside something you are already doing.
For example, let’s say you have a goal of drinking more water. And let’s imagine that you eat breakfast at 7 am every morning. If you add drinking a glass of water to your pre-existing habit of eating breakfast at 7 it will seem pretty easy. Attaching a new habit to a current habit is an easier transition than trying to create an entirely new habit by itself.
When you work on your habits, they eventually become second nature. That means that once you have those habits in place they feel less effortful because you no longer have to think about them.
These 5 simple productivity hacks of setting your goals, reassessing your schedule, planning ahead, focusing on your priorities, and stacking your habits will change your life. Each of them takes some time, practice, and intentionality. However, the payoff for how much more productive you will be in working towards your goals makes it more than worth the effort.
Thank you again to Julianna from The Simplicity Habit for sharing these tips with us! Do you have any productivity tips you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!