Even though I’m no longer a student, fall still feels like the prime time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.
In the months ahead, I want to be more productive. And to do that, I’m going to need some new habits.
After a little research, I compiled a list of seven productivity hacks to help me (and now, you) work smarter, not harder. Have a look:
Take A Stroll
University of Michigan researchers found that people who walked through a nature setting experienced a 20% improvement on attention and focus tests. If you don’t exactly live on a prairie, no worries. Even just a stroll along a quiet, tree-lined street (like the ones near 777 Place in Pomona, CA) can help.
Clean Your Workspace
I came across this tip a lot. And it makes sense if you think about it. How can you be productive when it looks like your desk is the victim of a hurricane? Instead of hightailing it out of your office at the end of the day, take a few minutes to tidy up. That way, you’re ready to roll as soon as you get in.
Say No To Multitasking
This was another tip that kept coming up. Working on several tasks simultaneously sounds like a good idea, and sometimes it’s necessary, but it can prevent you from feeling a sense of accomplishment. You know the satisfaction that comes with crossing items off your to-do list? That gets delayed when you’re doing more than one thing at a time.
Do The Worst First
I think it’s just human nature to put off doing a task you’re dreading. But it’s an impulse you should fight. After completing a task you loathe, you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, and you’ll probably be more motivated to tackle the others on your plate.
Ignore Email (Sometimes)
Obviously some emails are urgent and should be answered quickly. But responding to every email you get as it comes in diverts your attention, which prevents you from maintaining a steady workflow. Instead, set aside a few blocks of time each day for sending and responding to emails.
Don’t waste valuable time —and brainpower— on decisions that can be eliminated or simplified. An easy way to do that is giving yourself fewer, if any, options when it comes to choices you have to make constantly. For some people, that means wearing the same clothes every day. (For example, President Obama only wears gray or blue suits.) Having a work uniform sounds like my idea of hell, but I can eat the same lunch for days at a time. Find something you don’t mind “automating” and go from there.
Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
This is a tip you’ve undoubtedly heard before. The common recommendation is eight hours of sleep per night (which is easier to get when you have a private bedroom like the folks at The Palms on University in Riverside, CA). But that might not be necessary for everyone. In fact, one acclaimed sleep researcher says that people who sleep between 6.5 and 7.5 hours a night live the longest, are happier, and most productive.
If you’ve got helpful productivity tips, feel free to leave them in the comments!