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PROSERVICE BLOG

5 Hacks to Kick Your Productivity into High Gear

by Ruth Erickson | February 8, 2019

Whether you’re your own boss or a manager of a team, productivity in the workplace is a hot issue right now. We all want to work smarter, not harder, to get things done...and enjoy work/life balance in paradise too.

While being more productive at work isn’t a science, it does require being more intentional about how you manage your time. And we’re here to help!

Check out these 5 productivity tips to help you stay focused, keep organized, and kick your productivity into high gear! Absorb these hacks yourself or share it with your team.


1. Don’t underestimate a good night's sleep

The first hurdle to productivity is insufficient sleep (not more coffee). Healthy adults should get a minimum of seven hours a night but most workers only get 6 hours and 28 minutes, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. I personally know how important my sleep is, and so I have developed my nightly habits starting with putting my phone away at a reasonable hour and focusing on my breathing to help me wind down. If sleep is hard, start small. Shoot for 30 more minutes and say hello to more energy, focus, creativity, and good decision making.


2. Do the most important thing first, each day

What’s the one thing you absolutely, without a doubt, need to get done for the day? It may sound obvious but finish that task first—before moving onto anything else. This is the Ivy Lee method, a 100-year old to-do hack that still works like a charm, according to James Clear, New York Times best-selling author (and our upcoming Growth Series speaker).

It’s actually quite simple:

  1. Write down the six most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow.
  2. Prioritize those six items in order of their true importance.
  3. When tomorrow arrives, do the most important thing first.
  4. Work until the first task is finished before moving on to the second task; and approach the rest of your list in the same fashion.
  5. At the end of the day, move unfinished items to a new list of six for the following day.
  6. Rinse and repeat, every working day.
As Clear says, “Do the most important thing first each day. It’s the only productivity trick you need.” But if you need more tips, keep reading.

3. Remove digital distractions

While you may think that simply ignoring a text, call, email, or social media notification on your phone is improving your productivity, studies show that merely receiving a push notification on your device is as distracting as responding to a text message or a phone call during a task. So here’s a tip: Embrace your device’s Do Not Disturb mode. Even better, put your device somewhere not within reach (or sight), and get down to work.


4. Avoid this time trap

Don’t fall prey to Parkinson's law, a theory that work expands according to the time available for its completion. Put another way: if you give yourself two weeks to complete a three-hour task, the task itself could balloon to more complex proportions. Try exploring shorter, tighter deadlines to make you—and your team—more efficient.


5. Embrace the art of time blocking

Consider all the things you have to get done in a single day, or week. It can feel overwhelming. And while meetings and appointments find their way onto your calendar, what about dedicated time to accomplish specific work or to-dos? Time won’t magically appear; you have to carve it into your schedule. Give time blocking a shot. Carve out time on your calendar to concentrate on specific tasks or projects. And then protect the boundaries you’ve built.


Exercise: How to master your priorities

If you feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done, and you don’t know where to start, try placing your to-do list in a prioritization matrix. This will help you determine what’s most important, and what’s most urgent.

Give this a shot with your own to-do list, or try this exercise with an employee that needs help deciphering critical vs. not-critical and immediate vs. not-immediate tasks. A matrix like this can help them determine what needs to be completed when, and possibly bring to light items that can be removed altogether.

Prioritization Matrix 700x360 final

Step 1: Task Importance // Split your to-do list into “High Importance” and “Low Importance” by identifying the consequences of not doing a particular task.

Step 2: Task Urgency // Now split both your “High Importance” and “Low Importance” tasks into “High Urgency” and “Low Urgency” so that you have four groups of tasks.

Step 3: Number your 4 groups // 1 - Do Now: “High Importance” and “High Urgency tasks that you should do now; 2 - Do Next: “High Importance” and “Low Urgency” tasks that you should do next; 3 - Do Last: “Low Importance” and “High Urgency’” tasks that you save for last; 4 - Do Never: “Low Importance” and “Low Urgency” tasks that you should do nothing with until they either become more important or more urgent.

These hacks are sure to make you more productive, but if you’re looking for more ways to improve, join us with speaker, James Clear, on February 27, at our first Growth Series event of 2019. He’s a habit formation expert, New York Times best selling author, and he’ll be sharing advice on how to get 1% better every day—you don’t want to miss this!  Get more info here and use the promo code GS2019 to register today!  

Ruth Erickson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

With more than 17 years of experience working across and managing high-performing teams, Ruth’s passion is for leading and motivating members to be change agents. She is currently the Director of Marketing at ProService Hawaii. Before joining ProService, Ruth held various leadership roles at Microsoft in marketing and product organizations.

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