It seems like everywhere we look, everyone is trying to find new productivity hacks. We want to optimize our lives so that we can spend less time working and more time doing what we want, so we look to productivity hacks that promise we’ll finish any task in a fraction of the usual time.
The only problem is that we can get so overwhelmed and distracted by these lists, timers, gadgets, and gizmos that we forget our original task. So this week, there are no gizmos or gadgets – just me and a few easy-to-follow productivity hacks.
Before I continue, I want to be clear that this article doesn’t promote toxic productivity whatsoever. The rise of productivity during the pandemic also brought with it the rise of awareness towards toxic productivity. People who practice toxic productivity are often described as being workaholics, or having no boundaries between work and life. This article isn’t promoting toxic productivity — I still maintained healthy work boundaries this week and stopped when I got tired or when it all seemed like too much.
I never know how to stop working when I’m done. My head is always filled with more to-dos and tasks. Heck, I’ve planned most of my wedding and I’m not even engaged yet because I cannot stop doing things. So this week, while I focus on productivity, I’m also going to focus on being a human being, rather than a human doing and only do these productivity hacks when there’s actually something to be done.
There are a million tricks to set your nose to the grindstone and get your to-do list done, so I wanted to try as many of them as I could this week. I’d love to say I’m a productive person. I feel like I’m always on track to finishing my tasks either early or on time, but this past week got me a bit behind.
As I’m catching up from spending a week in bed, I thought testing out some productivity hacks would be the perfect way to get back on track.
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Hack #1: Set a Single Goal for the Day
If you’re like me, your ambitions will often get the better of you. I’d love to finish everything that I have to do in the month of January this week, but that’s not going to happen. When I set a single goal or intention for the day I can not only focus my mind on exactly what I need to accomplish, but it gets harder for me to get sidetracked or multitask.
I loved doing this. I’m often guilty of starting the day with 50 different objectives. By focusing on one goal all day, I was able to take every day this week and focus on just one aspect of my list while granting myself grace on the other tasks. This method not only gave me clarity in knowing what I needed to do and focus on, but it also let me have grace for myself as I was healing from COVID and wasn’t 100% at all.
Hack #2: The Pomodoro Technique
It’s hard to concentrate on one task for an extended amount of time. While some tasks may need hours of work, often we can finish a task in half the time it actually takes us if we simply utilize breaks and breathe. Enter: The Pomodoro Technique. This technique optimizes your work time while also breaking your day up. All you have to do is work for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break afterward. After four of these intervals, you can take a 15-20 minute break.
Some people dislike this technique because 25 minutes isn’t long enough to really get anything accomplished. If you’re stopping every 25 minutes, you could be interrupting a good “flow” state, making it harder to get to the task when your break is up. A new take on the Pomodoro technique is to work for 45-60 minutes and then take a five-minute break. You can also work until you hit a stopping point (either when a task is complete or a section of the task is complete) and then take a break. That way, you won’t be interrupted and take needless breaks.
I did the second version of this technique today. I found myself getting distracted by my phone and the never-ending calls of TikTok and my cat, so I simply turned everything off and set my timer for 45 minutes. At the end of the 45 minutes, I had roughly five minutes of work left, so I finished my task and took a break.
I loved doing this because it gave me permission to celebrate when I finished something by taking a break, but it also didn’t stop my flow. While the timer going off gave me ‘permission’ to stop, I knew that I could finish quickly and knock one more thing off my to-do list.
Hack #3: Time Block Your Day
If you’ve ever heard of any productivity hack, it’s probably this one. Time blocking is most useful when you have a packed schedule and you need to dole out your time almost by the minute. I love this method of planning because it’s how my brain works — to the second.
I did this today and it was necessary. I always feel as though I need to plan my days down to the second when I go out in the middle of the day. I usually do all my work between 8 am and 5 pm, so when I break it up, I’m a little lost. My schedule for the past two days has been up in the air more than it usually is, so I took a section out of my bullet journal and started writing down sections of time that I would give myself to do certain tasks. I’m not certain how much it helped me with my productivity, but it did help me remain level-headed and get a grasp on what the day will look like.
Hack #4: The Five-Minute Rule
I’ve written about the five-minute rule before because I love the concept of it. It’s a simple idea that if you don’t want to do a task, just start by doing five minutes of it. More than likely, you’ll get caught up in the task and continue to work on it until it’s over or until the biggest part of it is finished. It’s a great mind trick.
I love this hack. I started doing it when I first wrote about it and it works so well. Honestly, most people just need to start a task — once it’s begun, success is much more attainable. I feel this. Most of the things I have to do take an average of an hour. They don’t take long, it’s just getting over the mental hurdle of beginning. I did this with nearly every task this week, whether it was working out, working, or even heading out to do groceries. Just five minutes and then you’re already in the middle of it.
I really loved testing these productivity hacks out this week. I often will get overwhelmed and it’s usually a matter of just starting a task and then watching everything else fall into place. My favorite hacks I did this week were the time blocking and the Pomodoro technique. I like seeing my time in batches and it helped me get into the mindset of what I needed to do and how long it was going to take for me.
I loved testing out these tricks this week and would recommend any of these to anyone who’s struggling with being productive.
Have you tried any of these productivity hacks? Which one was your favorite? Comment below!
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