Productivity Hacks

Six easy hacks can change your life

By guest writer Adrianna Huff

Now that I am a Mom, I find that if I get lucky, I can get four hours total of productive work during the day. Unfortunately, this time is not in one four-hour chunk, but about four one-hour chunks. With my new time constraint, I have found myself devouring information on how to be my most productive self.

Based on my research and firsthand experience, these are my best productivity hacks.

1. Develop a Structure: Without creating some structure to my day, I end up mindlessly reading articles and not actually getting anything done. For some, this structure could look like meetings on Mondays, designing on Tuesdays, and so forth. If you develop a structure, and time block yourself for specific activities that you only do during those times, you will likely be more productive and efficient. Some individuals even go so far as to only respond to emails pertinent to their daily structure on the assigned days, but I’m not that strict.

2. Write Everything Down: When I am my most productive self, I am a list making machine. I have my to-do list, my call list, and my idea list. If I have everything written down on my list, I don’t have to expend brain power time trying to remember what I need to do. In addition, when I accomplish a task, I get to have the feeling of immense success by crossing it off the list. Finally, when I find myself with a spare few minutes, for example if I arrive early to a meeting, or a call ends early, I can knock out a small task and get a little more done.

3. Work When I am Most Productive: I am a morning person, and my best ideas occur when I am somewhat refreshed after a night of sleep. Thus, in my daily structure, you will see me writing in the morning and administrative tasks when I am the most tired. By working with my body’s natural productivity inclinations, I don’t waste valuable time working on mindless tasks when I am most alert.

4. Make a “Landing Zone”: Having all of my important paperwork in one specific landing zone makes it much easier to crank through the work. As soon as it comes to me (mail, email, carrier pigeon), I open it, assess it, and put it in the landing zone as needed. When I have the pre-assigned chunk of time to work on this task, I no longer have to look for it, or remember to do it. The work is staring me right in the face. Again, by taking out the brain power of remembering the task, I can be more productive.

5. Unsubscribe or Unfollow: My email inbox can be a time suck for me. Between the emails I need to read and respond to as well as all of the emails I have subscribed to throughout the years, it is easy to lose large chunks of time to the less important emails. Periodically, I set aside a 15-20 minute chunk of time to actually unsubscribe or unfollow these emails. Without the constant barrage of unnecessary content, I can stay more focused when my email is staring back at me. And if I decide the need to get certain subscription based emails again, I can always re-follow.

6. Set a deadline: In Tim Ferriss’ book, “The Four Hour Work Week”, Ferriss explains that working more efficiently for a few hours can vastly increase productivity. This may seem like a no-brainer idea, but forcing shorter deadlines forces you to actually work more efficiently. If I give myself two weeks, I am likely to start working on the task in 2 weeks, if I give myself 2 days, I am more likely to complete it right away.

What are your great productivity hacks? How do you keep yourself accountable and motivated?