5 Productivity Hacks That Actually Work

 

Productivity is something that everyone could use a little bit more of. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, running your own business, working 9-5, 60+ hour weeks, or are a housewife, I’m sure there isn’t a single person out that that doesn’t think a little more productivity in their life is necessary.

You will find countless books, blog post, youtube videos, TED talks, basically any content delivery system you can think of, filled to the brim with different tips, tricks, and techniques on how to be your most productive self, get organized, and get things done. We live in a world of hustle and fighting the to-do list that never ends, and we are dying to learn exactly how to get it all done,

Becuase there is an oversaturation of productivity advice and techniques, it’s really easy to get so wrapped up in learning about the different techniques that we never stop looking and start implementing what we’ve found. I’m here to solve that problem for you. I’ve got 5 productivity hacks that I’ve tested, tried, and use on a regular basis.  My favorite hacks are simple and yield high productivity results, which is what productivity is, right? Getting things done in a timely manner. 

Here are my 5 productivity hacks that actually work.

#1 Blocking and Scheduling

This is kind of 2 things, but I figured we can lump them together.  First, schedule everything.  Sure, we always write down our planned appointments, but have you ever considered scheduling the things that you don’t consider to be an appointment like your workouts or your time spent with the kids or your spouse? Scheduling all of your items, even if they don’t necessarily feel like something that needs to be scheduled, ensures that you have a period of time blocked off for that item, even if it’s just cuddling on the couch with your significant other and giving your relationship an hour of your time.  That’s a pretty important to-do list item if you ask me. So, part 1: schedule everything. 

Part 2 is block scheduling.  This falls under the “schedule everything” umbrella, which is why it’s lumped together under tip #1. Block scheduling is basically blocking off larger periods of time to help you specify what types of things you’re doing throughout your day. I regularly have several different time blocks located throughout my week to help me stay on task and organized.  I have a color-coded system that helps me understand at a glance what types of tasks I’ doing throughout y day. Here are examples of my block schedules:

  • “Work”: I have many different types of tasks under this umbrella: blogging, filming, editing, shooting photos, social media, admin, emails, and other things that fall under the Diva and the Divine umbrella. It’s coded in purple (like my website. See what I did there?) and I try to give myself a solid, several hour blocks a few times a week to be my “work days.”
  • Errands: If I can help it, I block out one chunk of time per week for errands. If I have a doctor’s appointment or something that gets me out of the house anyway, I try to make that my errand day, and the entire blocked chunk of time consists of getting all of my out and about tasks done in one go, leaving me a lot more time during the week to accomplish everything else since I won’t need to run an errand every day. This doesn’t always work out, but I do my best.
  • Cleaning: I also block schedule a few cleaning times in throughout the week. I typically have a 15-minute block of time every night for general tidying, and I’ll mark of one or two power hours (more on that in a minute) to get my longer list of cleaning tasks completed.

I find block scheduling is a great tool for me to try and make my days as a non-working (outside of Diva and the Divine) housewife resemble a typical work week as if I was employed.  I’m still working on the whole procrastinating and straying from my block schedule thing, but at least I’m getting things in writing. 

#2 Today’s Top 3

Let’s face it: we live in a world where our to-do lists are so long that there is no way we can actually get every task completed before more get added. It’s a vicious cycle that makes us feel like we are constantly behind. That’s where “Today’s Top 3” comes in.  I know you have a crazy list that might be 20+ items long, but today, your job is to pick your top 3 (not 5, 8 or 3 sets of 3…JUST 3) and those are the tasks you prioritize for the day. 

I know your to-do list is a lot longer than 3 items, but hear me out. 3 things is a totally manageable number of things to get done in a day. If you pick your top 3, that doesn’t mean you can’t do more, but it means those 3 items are your official priorities of the day. If you do nothing else today but those 3 tasks, the day is a success. Anything extra is just bonus points. 

The top 3 can vary greatly from day to day, but here are some examples of my “Today’s Top 3”

  • Grocery Shopping, 1 load of laundry, meal prep
  • Bodypump, film 2 videos, vacuum
  • Drop packages at post office, take blog photos, write for 20 minutes
  • Cleaning Power Hour, pick up a prescription, Upload video

My top 3 are often something from the different genres of my life. Some days are blog focused, others are home focused, and sometimes BodyPump or go to the gym is actually one of my official priorities, rather than just something I have to work into my 3 priorities for the day. Start the day knowing what your top 3 are and then don’t rest until they’re complete. 

#3 Batching

Batching is a term I heard as part of the blogger and YouTuber community, but there’s no reason everyone can use this technique.  The idea behind batching is to take tasks of a similar nature and to batch them all together to be accomplished in one go. For me, I have batches like filming videos, shooting photos for several posts at once, one period of time not focused on one particular post, but on writing, even if I get more than one post typed out.  The same goes for errands (as I mentioned, I will try to schedule a block of time to get them all done in one day. Batching!), cleaning, and I even batch together those goofy random tasks that don’t have a category. This helps the brain focus on one type of thing at a time, helping us be more productive rather than losing productivity for having to change focus regularly.

#4 Power Hour

The power hour is perhaps the productivity technique I use most frequently, and for a good reason. The concept of power hour is to set a timer for 60 minutes and go gung-ho on the task at hand, but once your hour is up you move on to something else, regardless of where your to-do list ended up. The best example of this is cleaning power hours, which I do all the time.  First, I make a list of all the things that need to get done.  It might look like this:

  • Laundry
  • Put laundry away
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Steam Floors
  • Change Towels
  • Clean Toilets
  • Soak Gracie’s potty pads
  • Wipe down counters
  • Clean mirrors/Glass surfaces

That’s 11 things. Once my timer starts I blitz into cleaning mode loading the laundry. While that’s running I might do the kitchen stuff and finally get around to dusting the other rooms in my home. Perhaps I get done dusting and vacuuming, but then I hear the alarm go off before I can get steaming the floors or wiping down the mirrors. That’s okay!  I’ll save that for my next cleaning power hour later in the week. I still accomplished several of my tasks, and now I can be okay with switching focus to a different genre of work, like heading to my office to blog or going to the gym. 

I’m one of those people that can use home cleaning and organization as a procrastination tool to prevent me from sitting down to work, so I know that putting a time limit on things is the solution to my procrastination problem. 

The wonderful thing about a power hour is it doesn’t have to be an hour. It can be 15 minutes or 90 minutes. As long as you make your list and stop when your time is up, it’s the power hour technique at work.

#5 Routines

Many of us have some sort of routine that we do most days, but just because it’s a routine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a productive one.  I find that having a productive morning and evening routine really helps me be a more productive person overall. While routines will look different for every person, here are what some of my productive habits are that help me set myself up for success.

Night time routine

My night time routine is probably my more important routine as most of it literally sets up the next day.  Some of the things I do every night are:

  • 15 minute tidy: I go through the house before I start getting ready for bed and tidy up some messes that have developed throughout the day. This often includes clearing and wiping down the kitchen counters, picking up all of Gracie’s toys and putting them back in her basket, folding blankets that were thrown around the couches, picking up clothes on the floor, and clearing off my desk in the office. When I take just a few minutes to do this every night I get to wake up to a tidy house, which is a pleasant and stress-free way to wake up.
  • Set up my coffee maker: I don’t have a fancy coffee maker, but it does all I need, which is have coffee ready for me in the morning. My simple Mr. Coffee allows me to set it up the night before, set a timer for 15 minutes before my alarm, and there’s fresh, hot coffee ready and waiting when I walk out into the kitchen in my groggy morning haze. This is a life essential 🙂
  • Establish what the next day’s top 3 priorities are. That way I know what the most important tasks of the next day are before I go to bed, so when I wake up and am ready to work, I can hit the ground running.  
  • Turn the lights down low and enjoy the process of getting ready for bed. This includes my nightly skincare routine, changing into comfy PJs, enjoying my favorite magnesium drink to help me sleep, and overall getting the mind and body in sleep mode. As an insomniac, this process is essential to make sure I actually fall asleep when I get in bed. Getting a solid night’s sleep is huge when it comes to productivity.

Morning routine:

  • Set alarm 15 minutes early to allow myself a buffer in actually finding the desire to get out of bed.
  • Wash my face, even if it’s just a splash of water. This helps wake me up. Also, down a significant amount of water. Rehydrating helps wake up your insides. 
  • Pour some coffee and sit in my recliner for some quiet time with the Lord, to read, and to gather my thoughts for the day.
  • Move over to my office where everything is already tidy and ready for me to jump into whatever I have to get done that day. 

Like I said, everyone’s routines will look different, but finding what works best for you to achieve maximum productivity is crucial in helping you get more done in the long run. 

Those are my 5 productivity tips/tricks/hacks that really work. Do you have a favorite productivity tool that you swear by? Let me know in the comments below. 

 

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