We've been on a mission lately to become more productive throughout our day and work smarter, not harder.
We have been getting up earlier, exercising daily, juicing, eating healthy, visualizing, meditating, getting organized in our business, outsourcing and really trying to take things to the next level – not only for our own benefit but so we can figure out systems that can work for you as well, if you so choose to screw the 9-5.
And it's working! Hot damn, it's actually working!
Not only are we getting more done but the tasks we are finishing are having more of a direct effect on our business and our websites.
But it wasn't always that way. If we think back to six months ago we realize that we were spinning our wheels, willing the universe to add just one more hour to each day.
Alas, the universe didn't listen *shakes fist* and we had to find ways to accomplish our work within the same 24 hours as everyone else.
After two months of testing and tweaking we've come up with 14 ways to be productive that will not only help you up your game, but cause you to marvel at just how much work one person can get done in one week.
And really, who doesn't love to marvel?
14 Quick and Painless Ways to be Productive
1. Wake Up an Hour Earlier
I know, I know, it doesn't sound sexy, or painless for that matter, but it truly does work. Just be sure you actually force yourself to move once your alarm goes off!
A simple hack we use is to keep our curtains open a little so that the sun streams in each morning and hits us in the face, allowing us to wake up more easily.
It took us a few weeks to get used to our new rise and shine time but once we realized how much more we were getting done before 9am, we were freakin' hooked!
2. Create a Morning Ritual
While I have already mentioned this, I feel it bears repeating as creating a routine for yourself each morning not only helps drag you out of bed but it gets your body in motion and your brain firing, so that when you do go to start work you're not feeling fuzzy.
Your ritual can be anything you like, but we have personally had measurable success with the following routine:
- get up at 7am
- drink 1/2 litre of water
- brush our teeth
- rinse our face
- exercise for 45 minutes
- visualize and meditate for 20 minutes
- make a green juice
- start work
It may sound like a pretty in-depth and lengthy ritual (probably because it is) but it works wonders for us by hydrating our bodies, getting our hearts pumping, getting us into the right head space and infusing our bodies with a flood of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that gives us a rush of energy and a general feeling of “fuck yeah”!
However, if it seems a little too full-on for you, consider starting with an earlier wake up time than normal, drinking 1/2 litre of water (our bodies are actually quite dehydrated when we wake up), exercising and eating a healthy breakfast – and no, that does not consist of breakfast sandwiches (or burritos), pancakes, breakfast drinks, cereals, muffins, bagels, bacon, or straight up coffee.
Trust me, you will feel exceptional each time you crush your routine and realize you still have so much time left in the day to get your work done.
It's kinda like crack…but healthy crack.
3. Create a To-Do List
I loooooove me a to-do list. Actually I just love making lists in general but I think creating a to-do list is the bee's knees when you're building a business.
Not only does it help you stay focused but it will help to prioritize your most important and pressing tasks for the week.
It will also cause you to feel insanely productive when you look back at your list and see just how much you have accomplished throughout the week.
If writing out lists ain't yo' thang you could always use Google Tasks, Evernote or a handy little app called Teux Deux. Whatever you do, just create something of structure that will help keep you on-task and moving towards your desired outcomes.
Speaking of which…
4. Know Your Desired Outcomes
Your desired outcomes are all the specific things you want to have happen as a direct result of the certain tasks you are working through.
If you know what these are then you can create the baby steps that will help deliver that particular outcome to you. Not only that but it helps to cut through the bullshit and cull all the non-important tasks that we tend to get caught up and sidetracked with.
5. Work in Chunks of Time
Our homeboy Eben Pagan (actually, he's not our homeboy, we don't even know him; but we wish we did and if we did we would call him our homeboy) preaches the benefits of working on one task, and one task only, for 50 unceasing minutes.
It may take some training but if you can get to the point of working in 50 minute chunks of time you will notice you gain a momentum that helps you blaze through work more efficiently than if you were to do one task then check your Facebook, do another task then send an email, do another task and check your Facebook one last time in case someone changed their relationship status or went on an overly-personal rant.
Once your 50 minutes are up you can then relax for 10 minutes, check in with all the Facebook gossip, shoot out a couple of tweets, answer an email (or seven) or creep the Instagram accounts of celebrities. Not that *cough* I know anyone *cough* who would ever do that. *cough*
6. Get Some Background Noise
I used to be the type of person who needed dead silence in order to write. If I could hear Josh's music I would ask him to turn it down, if it was too noisy in the coffee shop I would shoot death glares, if the baby next door to us was screaming I would stomp around the apartment until it stopped – you know, I'd behave like a mature 30-something.
And then our buddy told us about Focus at Will – a “new neuroscience based web tool that uses phase sequenced instrumental music to increase your attention span up to 400% when working, studying, writing and reading.”
Not only has it changed my entire writing process but I am able to work in noisy coffee shops, co-working spaces, around screaming children, even beside gossiping Thai girls without wondering what the hell they're talking about; all while getting more writing done than I ever could while sitting in silence.
7. Hold Yourself Accountable
If you find it challenging to follow through with tasks you need to do to get further ahead in your business, hold yourself accountable; or better yet find a group who will do it for you.
Accountability groups are immeasurably useful when it comes to following through and actually getting done what you said you wanted to get done.
Typically, your group will meet once a week where you list the one (or two or three) major objectives you want to accomplish that week to help advance your business, or a project you are working on, and get you one step closer to your desired outcomes.
These groups force you to take action because you are accountable to the members and don't want to be the only person who doesn't follow through with what they said they wanted to do.
You could create your own group with your friends or join an online accountability group, like stickK – a magnificently creative site which uses commitment contracts and cold hard cash to help to you stick to your goals – if you don't know anyone interested in starting up an accountability group.
Either way, making yourself accountable is a fan-flippin-tastic way to advance leaps and bounds in your business.
8. Outsource, Outsource, Outsource!
Since finally being able to loosen our psychotic grip on our menial tasks and outsource them, to someone just as qualified as us to handle them, we have felt so much more productive.
Hell, we feel free!
Free to tackle bigger assignments. Free to live a little more. Free to enjoy working on our business instead of in our business.
And you can get a taste for this freedom by listing all the menial and repeatable tasks in your business that could be handed off to someone else, for as little as a few hundred dollars a month!
However, if you aren't at that stage yet and prefer to keep your choke-hold grip on your many tasks, consider outsourcing personal tasks.
Like what, you ask?
Oh, what about:
- grocery delivery
- dry cleaning pick up and drop off
- dog walking
- house cleaning
- lawn maintenance
- pool cleaning
- pet grooming
- car washing
- car maintenance
- meal delivery
- de-cluttering and organizing
- mail pickup and sorting
- anything and everything you don't want to bother with
Not only can you find cheap help, but it will clean and clear your mind and give you some more personal white space to focus on your biggest priorities.
9. Go For a Walk
It may sound counter-productive but when you're hitting a wall or feeling a little stuck, sometimes a walk is one of the most productive things you can do for yourself.
Not only do you get out of your surroundings but taking a walk outside helps to get you out of your head, reframe your thoughts and get some clarity on what was previously holding you up.
It doesn't have to be a long, strenuous walk, even 20 minutes could help shake things up and get you back on track.
10. Say No
It's such a simple tweak but saying “no” more often to different requests can help increase your productivity tenfold. Not only is it empowering but it's honest; and people love honesty.
Besides, you don't want to be that person that says “yes” to most things and then spends a big chunk of their day wondering how they can get out of the commitment, or worse, force yourself to go and feel distracted and resentful the whole time.
It may be a tad uncomfortable at first but it will get easier the more you practice it.
11. Schedule Your Social Life
Ohhh I'm tricky with this one because what I actually mean is your online social life!
Because if there is one thing that is a huuuuge time suck, it's social media. I should know, I used to waste a lot of time on it.
I mean, just think about it: How many times have you got lost in other people's lives on Facebook, eye-catching photos on Instagram, funny animal and baby (or baby animals!) videos on YouTube or drool-worthy recipes and travel photos on Pinterest? It's insane how much time we can waste on social media.
Fortunately, there is a quick solution. It's called Nanny and it's an extension for Google Chrome that allows you to block specific websites during certain times.
Or if you're a Mac user (like moi!) you can check out Self Control – a free Mac app that allows you to blacklist yourself from certain sites for a certain amount of time. It's like Nanny but only for us snobby Mac users!
Basically, these two programs are godsends if you want to up your productivity and cut out the distractions.
12. Ease up on the Email
How many of us check out email multiple times a day? I sure as hell used to. I checked it probably about 4-5 times a day which is flat out ludicrous.
First off, most of those times there weren't any new or pressing matters I had to handle right then and there, so my interruption of work was a pointless act.
I finally changed my tune when I read somewhere that not answering your email right away not only free's up your time but it helps you (and the sender) to practice patience. I felt all warm and fuzzy when I read that and decided I needed to instil some self-discipline (and patience) and only check my email once in the morning and once towards the end of my work day.
That way I don't feel pressured to answer right away and disrupt the roll I was on. Sweet relief!
13. Don't Pick it Up
Another easy tweak you can incorporate into your life is muting your phone or flat out ignoring phone calls, texts or push notifications altogether.
They can be the ultimate distraction with your phone dinging every five freakin' minutes, breaking your concentration and causing you to veer off track.
Best of all, it's outrageously easy to do: Just turn off your bloody phone!
14. Plan Your Week on Sunday
Why not kick off your new productive week by planning what you have to get done the following week at the very end of the current week?
I always do this and find I really like closing my week out this way. Besides, I always feel organized and on the ball when I plan the hell out of things. In fact, it's one of my favourite ways to be productive.
It's also really nice to wake up and already have a list of the tasks you need to start working on sitting there, staring you in the face and silently pleading with you to tick them off.
And that, my friends, is how I stay productive and blaze through a t0-do list that is typically about 30 tasks long.
Do you have any ways to be productive that I haven't mentioned? If so, dish 'em below! After all, we could always be a little bit more productive, couldn't we?