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Ultimate Hacks: Seven Virtues for Optimum Productivity

We could all do with increasing our productivity levels, right? We're here with seven heavenly hacks to help improve your productivity - and smash the rest of 2019 😉



First off, this one is a MUST If you’re a creative night owl like us lot:


1. Always keep a pen and a notepad next to your bed.


Scribble down everything that is keeping you up - whether it’s new ideas, plans for the future, things you forgot earlier on in the day, or collecting that Amazon order. Once it’s written down, it’s out of mind and leaves you to take action the next day - allowing you to de-stress and get a better night’s sleep 😴



2. Reduce unwanted distractions.


We’re all human and we all get distracted from time to time. The trouble is, in today’s world, we’re not only distracted by snacking, someone else’s conversation, or the TV, but now this whole ARRAY of digital distractions. An email pinging through, a new LinkedIn message, and - worst of all - the incessant slew of notifications coming through on your smartphone. (If this gets you riled up, you must read our other article on Etiquette For a Digital World here.)


It’s no news that many of us are addicted to our phones, so here are some ideas if willpower alone just won’t cut it:


  • Use an app that blocks distractions on your phone for you. Sure, many of us can’t go all out and disable something like WhatsApp as more professional conversations are taking place there now too (work groups anyone?) but something like Offtime (iOS and Android) sets boundaries and filters what’s important to you. Not total cut-off, but a step in the right direction.

  • For a more extreme measure, lock them up! DistractaGone is a new invention for extreme smartphone addicts that keeps their devices locked away. Simply set the time on the box, place the phone/s inside the isolation box, and suffer. (Then get over it, do some work, get your phone back and realise you did survive after all).

  • This one is perhaps more on a social basis: the Phone Stack. The basic premise is that everyone at the table stacks their phones on top of each other. The first one to look at their phone picks up the bill. Repercussions for your weakness.

  • Use the Pomodoro-Melodia Technique. Digital distractions aside, for when you simply can’t stay focused (or just aren’t in 'the zone') then I rely on The Pomodoro Technique, which involves taking regular breaks between big projects (typically every 25 minutes). Our variation though, is not taking breaks, but switching activities. Sure, you may be sat at your computer typing up that monthly report, and decide to go and make a tea. For us though, there’s taking a break and simply switching activities. This difference in terminology isn’t a way to justify being lazy or putting off your work. Taking a break - which can have some negative connotations - and switching activities, are both highly beneficial to your productivity. Taking a break might involve reading the paper, or making a cup of tea, whereas switching activities are seemingly mundane tasks (like sorting out the stationery cupboard or refilling the printer) that keep your hands busy, give your eyes a rest from all that screen time, and free up your valuable mindspace - resulting in the ability to absorb and digest information, often leading to coming up with new thoughts or remembering something important, sending you running back to finish that report (even if it lasts only 25 mins until your next break). By 'taking a break' from a large task, you are not only giving your mind a quick rest, but the opportunity to go somewhere else and get a new perspective - and I’m not just talking physically ;)


3. Move.


The mind and body are interlinked; when we’re feeling good, we perform better; and vice versa - so it’s important not to neglect the physical while you’re working.


Just a quick 5-minute run gets the oxygen-rich blood pumping enough to significantly improve your brain health and cognition abilities - much better than a quick caffeine fix or reaching for that chocolate bar.


We understand this isn’t always easy though, so here are a few tips to help:


  1. Set your alarm slightly earlier, put your trainers by the door the night before, and get out for a quick run as soon as you wake up - before your body even registers what’s happening;

  2. Run to work and shower there before your working day starts; Last but not least - this one requires no sweating, no post-workout showering, or post-shower hair & makeup:

  3. Power walk to get your lunch from the Pret down the road. Maybe even go to the Pret down the next road to get a few more steps in. If you have some good music to listen to as well then all the better. The key is to get moving, increase your heart rate somewhat, and get that oxygen pumping around your body. I guarantee you will come back feeling energised and ready to go.

(Read more on the benefits of running, including increasing your lifespan, here.)



4. Find your rhythm.


Some of us are larks, some of us are night owls, and then there are the lucky few on their A-game regardless of the time of day. (They aren’t reading this article. Lucky buggers.)


An important part of high productivity - like success in general - is knowing yourself. Sure, you need some self-discipline to wake up to that alarm or get some shut-eye by 11pm, but pinpointing the times of day that your circadian rhythm allows you to perform the best will help give you an edge on maximising on your own physical states.


If, like us, you’re in fifth gear at 10pm, tackle that big presentation alone at night with some music in the background if. Conversely, meet those big projects head on first thing in the morning with a clear head if you’re an early bird (how?)



5. The 20-Minute Rule


When there’s a project you keep putting off and can’t find the willpower to do it, follow some of these other tips and simply try for just 20 minutes.


A miracle will happen.


You’ll get into it and, before you know it, you’ll have finished that report and feel very satisfied with yourself. Now you can treat yourself to that cookie - you deserve it ;)


Meet yourself. From the future.


In the same way that fad diets don’t work, these quick fixes serve the purpose to trigger longer-lasting habits for better long-term productivity. What’s crucial here is adjusting your mindset, and here’s one proven way how:


When we put off a project or neglect our duties, the person we’re ultimately penalising is our future selves. With this research-backed psychological hack, people use the power of their minds to simply visualise these future selves. The premise here is that, by simply using their imaginative mental capacity (and we’re talking details down to what clothes they’re wearing, the situation they’re imagining themselves in, what they’re smelling…) they naturally see a clearer idea of their future, therefore find themselves more disciplined to do well and gain better long-term results.


Try it now. And we don’t mean the BS interview question everyone hates (“Where do you see yourself in five years?”) but a more realistic perspective and in a shorter timeframe - say in a year. Studies saw best results spending ten minutes with their future selves every day. Turn this into your daily morning meditation ritual or a moment of headspace during your commute.


Read the full article here.



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Let us know how these tips work out for you. What do you struggle with the most? Which hacks do you like the sound of best?


Leave a comment below, and thanks for reading! 😘

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