11 proven productivity hacks to make you work smarter

Productivity isn’t about working faster or harder. It’s about working smarter. It means getting more done in less time, which is essential when the next deadline is always yesterday.

And when you’re productive, everybody’s happy. Your team, your client, you.

We’ve compiled 10 productivity hacks that will help supercharge your productivity so you can spend more time devoted to the tasks that really matter and keep everyone smiling.

1. Don’t repeat. Integrate

A quick glance through your computer’s app list will reveal just how many tools you need to get through a standard working day. The smart way to boost your productivity and tame that tide of apps is by integrating as many of them as possible into a single platform.

Many task management platforms, such as GetBusy, make it easy to link to your other essential apps. For example, by adding a Google Chrome extension, you can pull any email address into GetBusy with just one click. For Outlook users, there’s good news too because GetBusy allows you to transform any email into a task without any copying or pasting. Likewise, Slack users can avoid missing notifications by turning any Slack message or notification into a task. 

2. Embrace automation

Studies show that managers spend almost 20% of every day on admin. Productivity superheroes understand that the smart way to cut down on unnecessary tasks is through automated features such as reminders. Different platforms have their own version, but GetBusy uses automatic reminders to alert colleagues that they need to respond or take action if they haven’t yet done so. You can easily set deadlines to tasks too, which gives you and your team control over priorities, and cuts down on emailing. Also, automated reminders can prevent you from being that person who’s always hassling colleagues for updates. Which, frankly, is great.

3. Templates, templates, templates

Does that email you’re writing seem familiar? Does it feel like you’re living in a digital Groundhog Day? If so, you need templates in your life. Typically, they allow you to do something once, save it and then use it again with a few tiny tweaks. Really simple, really excellent for boosting your productivity. The scope for this hack is limited only by your imagination, and, possibly, the platform you’re using. A wide range of apps and task management platforms, such as Microsoft Word, Outlook, Twitter and GetBusy allow you to set up custom templates for documents, emails and projects. They’re perfect for repeat briefings, new starter inductions, regular updates – you name it. Invest half an hour in building your templates and you will marvel at the time you get back.

4. Get moving

We tend to think of exercise as a way of staying in shape and getting fit. However, there are loads of work-related benefits to working up a sweat. For example, when we exercise, we increase the blood flow to the brain, which sharpens our awareness, making it that bit easier to take on the next work challenge. Exercise builds stamina and gives us more energy, making us feel more awake at work. Not only that, but it boosts our mood by giving our brains a dose of serotonin, the feel-good hormone that’s perfect for busting work-related stress.

You don’t need to be a crazy gym freak to harness this productivity hack. Experts suggest that as little as 10-15 minutes’ exercise several times each day is enough to keep you healthy, relaxed and productive.

You can achieve this by taking every opportunity to walk or cycle instead of using a car, climbing the stairs a few times on your lunch break, or better yet, by turning your garden (or lounge) into a workout zone and ordering some dumbbells.

5. Use the Cloud 

So, you’re still saving files locally and emailing documents and spreadsheets between your team? There is a better way. Possibly one of the biggest revolutions in the world of work has been the shift to cloud-based working. For example, Google Docs cloud-based storage and file management tools make collaboration super simple. More than one person can work on a document at the same time, and project owners can control which versions are being used, while managing contributor access easily and securely. What’s more, it’s completely free. Other apps such as Dropbox (which offers a limited service free of charge), and SmartVault, enable you to take work anywhere on all of your devices. What’s more, working in the Cloud means you won’t have to worry if your computer suddenly fails – you’ll still be able to access your files from another machine.  

6. Learn how to switch off 

In the past year, we’ve all had to get used to remote working. And while temporarily ditching the commute can seem a bonus, it’s not without its downsides. Remote workers report that one of the biggest challenges they face is switching off when that final email is sent. Learning how to ‘draw the line’ is really important for minimising stress, getting a good night’s sleep, and keeping relationships strong – all essential requirements for increasing your productivity.

It helps to have a designated area in the house that is only for work. At the end of the day, pack your things away and ‘leave’ just as you would your office. Also, turn off your work phone (or disable your work email) to avoid the temptation to check your work emails. Taking exercise, such as going for a walk or a run, is an ideal way to ‘drop the shutters’ on business matters, and will help you to process the day’s frustrations out of the house, leaving you free to relax in the evening. Alternatively, listening to music will help to snap you out of your work malaise, giving you back your spark.    

7. Master your dashboard

Which describes your working life more accurately: smoothly piloting a project to a nifty touchdown, or struggling to keep control as conflicting demands arrive on the horizon? The difference can come down to mastering your dashboard. Most collaboration and task management tools have a screen that gives you an overview of all the projects you’re involved with, messages and notifications. For example, GetBusy splits views into two variants. The first brings all recent activity into one place, such as when you’re cc’d into emails but are not necessarily directly involved. The second contains only the tasks you have been specifically asked to do, a place where you can block out the noise of things over which you only need to cast a casual eye. Used correctly, views become powerful productivity tools to replace daily to-do lists scribbled in a notepad.

8. Take a nap

You snooze, you lose, right? Wrong, actually. The benefits of taking a nap during the working day are so well recognised that the world’s most famous brands (Google and Nike for example) have provided nap rooms for employees to sleep on company time. The argument is straightforward: sleep restores mental sharpness, enhances performance, and reduces the likelihood of mistakes and accidents.

The knack with napping is getting the timing right: more than 30 minutes and you risk edging towards deep sleep, which could leave you feeling groggy instead of refreshed – so alarm clocks at the ready. If you’re still having trouble convincing your boss, just tell them the people at NASA are on your side with this one. 

9. Squash digital distractions

We all find it hard to be productive when our social feed is pinging every two seconds, our phone is constantly vibrating with messages, and news updates are appearing at the top of our screens. In fact, research suggests the average digital worker can only concentrate for six seconds before checking email and messaging. Not exactly epic productivity.

Time to wrestle these digital distractions to the ground!

Certain apps, such as Freedom, and browser extensions such as StayFocusd for Google Chrome, can allow you to temporarily block your internet browser, websites or social media platforms, and pause your notifications, which is a solid-gold approach to getting stuff done. Studies have shown that we are more efficient when we focus on one job at a time, and shutting out digital noise will help you do exactly that.

10. Swallow the frog

American writer Mark Twain had a good way with memorable – and useful – quotes. One that still resonates for anyone facing an unpalatable task, is his advice to ‘swallow the frog’. What? Well, if the first thing you do in the day is eat a live frog, then nothing that comes after it will seem as bad. So, if that frog of a task is on your list of jobs for the day, do it first thing. And if you need to eat two frogs, make sure you eat the biggest one first.

In other words, don’t put off tackling the dirty jobs. Don’t procrastinate on the tasks that might seem laborious. As Nike might have it, just do it. Get it over and done with. And move on.

11. Embrace the power of pause

Here’s another great solution for those moments when your dashboard resembles a Christmas tree, alive with blinking notifications and alerts. Feeling overwhelmed? Can’t decide what to focus on? Here’s the answer: press pause.

Didn’t that feel great?

A pause or snooze function is ideal for when you don’t have time or capacity to work on something right now. Pausing gives you control over your workload and helps you to manage the expectations of others. With GetBusy, you can pause tasks that you can’t work on right away. This helps you to focus on more pressing tasks, sets the expectations of others (they’ll see you have paused their request) and suppresses reminder notifications until you’re ready.

Go ahead – unleash the power of the pause!

Need more tips? Watch our free webinar and find out how GetBusy can help you take back control of your email.

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