Work smarter, not harder, with these 5 productivity hacks

Work smarter, not harder, with these 5 productivity hacks

Here are five expert-approved productivity hacks that can help to minimise chaos and improve efficiency, this year and always.

There’s nothing quite like a break to recharge your batteries so that you can tackle your job with energy and enthusiasm when you return. But with this return can often come feelings of dread, especially when envisioning all the work that lies ahead over the coming months. One way to overcome this is to make sure that you start work again on the right foot by getting your life organised and breaking any bad habits standing in the way of you and your efficiency. Here are five expert-backed productivity hacks to make your life more streamlined and stress-free.

#1: Identify your ‘golden hour’

If you’ve always found yourself identifying as either a ‘morning’ or an ‘evening’ person, you’ll be interested to know that there is truth to this claim, especially as it relates to how we work. One of the most effective productivity hacks is to establish when your ‘golden hour’ – or the time you are most alert and motivated – is. The Eat That Frog concept, created by author Brian Tracy, encourages tackling your hardest task first. However, he advises that if you’re not at peak performance until later in the day, you should schedule your top task at the time you work at your best. By leveraging your ‘golden hour’, you increase your output. Once you have an idea of when you are most focused, you can arrange your life accordingly so that each task gets the necessary level of attention.
How to find your ‘golden hour’
• Log your time so that you can refer back to see your most productive hours.
• Block distracting sites and keep a note of each time you try to access them.
• Check in with yourself throughout the day to gauge how you are feeling, whether it’s drained or decent.

#2: Keep your workspace organised

“The state of your workspace has a direct impact on your work,’’ explains master transformation and life coach, Janine Eveleigh. “A cluttered, disorganised area will distract your focus and your emotions, causing you to feel out of control and unsettled. Set aside at least 10 minutes at the end of each day to clear the area and prep for the next one.’’

While order might be the top priority when it comes to your desk, adding some personal, decorative touches is a nice, mood-boosting extra. “Make your space look and feel fun and functional by adding some stationery or photographs to your desk or cubicle. This can help to motivate you when you feel your productivity levels starting to drop,” says Eveleigh.

#3: Use the two-minute rule

Most of us wish we could eke out a bit more time each day. There are a number of productivity hacks to help you do this, but the two-minute method is one of the most popular. Coined by the author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity, David Allen, this method requires that if a task can be done in two minutes or less, you do it immediately rather than putting it off. It also encourages you to break up bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps that can be done in two-minute bursts. This reinforces the idea that good things happen once you get started, giving you the motivation to keep going.

#4: Try tools to streamline your day

Living in the 21st century means that, fortunately, we don’t have to rely on our own willpower and determination to get things done. One of the easiest productivity hacks out there is to use apps and browser extensions to maximise your time. “Use the technology that’s out there, such as your email calendar,” suggests Eveleigh. “Add all your to-dos to your schedule and allocate time to them”. There are also tools that can block certain sites or programmes during your working hours so that you stay on track.

A productivity app for every concern

  • You can’t seem to stay organised: Evernote helps you to capture and save your ideas and notes, making them easy to access.
  • You struggle to prioritise your work: Todoist lets you capture and organise your various tasks so that you know which ones you need to tackle first.
  • You are easily distracted by social media: OFFTIME tracks your phone usage and allows you to block disrupting apps, such as social media sites, during work hours for maximum focus.
  • You don’t have enough time: use your free Personal Assistant (PA) in your Sanlam Reality App to make your life a little easier. Get help with anything from quotes on tyres, plumbing services and cellphone contracts, to weather reports, directions and more.

#5: Look after yourself

In order to be predictably productive daily, you need to be in good physical and mental health. “Take a break and grab a healthy snack every couple of hours to keep your blood sugar stable,” suggests Eveleigh. “You should also take a proper break over lunch and have a small meal to give your body some sustenance and your brain a rest.”

Regular exercise is another thing that can boost your health and, as a by-product, your productivity levels. “Physical activity helps to release endorphins, which can lower your stress levels and help you stay centred.”

Did you know you can save up to 80% on gym fees at Planet Fitness, JustGym and independent gyms and studios as a Reality Core, Reality Plus, Reality Health and Reality Club member? Find out more here on how you can be healthier and stronger for less.

What if you’re working from home?

Managing to stay productive when working remotely is a challenge, but there are productivity hacks that can help. “If you work from home, it is very important to have a routine,” explains Eveleigh. “You should still get up early, shower, dress and eat breakfast as you would if you were going to an office. It’s also important to adhere to working hours and to have a desk, rather than the bed, to work from. This not only helps you to be professional and productive, but sends a clear message to your family that you are on the clock.”

Looking to minimise chaos and improve efficiency in your life? Speak to a financial planner to help you take control of your finances, and keep your wealth on track for a stress-free year. Book a meeting now.

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