7 Productivity Hacks Anybody Can Use

Do you wish that you were a more productive person? Whether you want to be more productive at work, home, or both, the hacks in this post could be suited to you. Not everybody is naturally productive, and in this day and age, distractions can plague us at every turn. To help you get more done, read on and you’ll find some hacks that can help just about anybody:

 

1. Set Yourself A Time Limit To Complete A Task

There are lots of time blocking methods you can use to complete tasks, and one of them is by setting yourself a time limit. Different limits work for different people. For instance, some set a 45 minute timer, work non stop, then take a 15 minute break. Some do 25 minutes working, then a 5-10 minute break. The key is to ensure your work blocks don’t feel too long, and that your breaks are decent but that they aren't so long that you become completely disengaged from your work.

 

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2. Keep The Novelty Up With Your Setting

The setting you work in can help you to get more done. Usually, if a place has novelty, you’re more likely to stay focused. This is why some people like to do a little work in one place, before moving one or two more times throughout the day. It stops you from feeling stuck in one place for too long. You could start working at the library at the great equalizer before moving on to a coffee shop.

 

3. Plan Your Time Carefully

Creating a plan for your time in advance is a good idea. Write down every single thing you have to do that day, even including food and small tasks. Then allocate time slots. This will give you a realistic idea of when you should be finished with tasks, and could help you to get more done.

 

4. Find The Right Productivity Playlist

Listening to a playlist while you work can be a great pleasure, but you need to make sure that it’s motivating and not distracting. You might like Mozart, or you may prefer to listen to dance music. Music with little words is usually better for mentally taxing projects.

 

5. Start Your Day Early

Starting your day early can help you to get things done before the whole world has woken up, and that can make you feel great, which in turn encourages you to get even more done. Some of the most successful people get up at 5am. You could even make a start on Sunday to make Monday less terrifying.

 

6. Work Standing Up

Stand up desks are somewhat of a trend these days, because studies have proven that standing up while we work increases productivity and is better for long term health.

 

7. Get Some Exercise Before Starting The Day

Before you start the day, get some exercise. Even if it’s just a small amount, getting your blood pumping should help you to feel productive for the rest of the day.

Making Time for What You Want to Make Time For

The title of this post is something I say to people often. It can apply to anything (and anyone) and speaks to what we value and what we make space for in our lives. Granted, there is always more that we can do with our time, but often, I find that people suffer from inertia coming from what they've always done or whatever is easiest. Time is a finite resource. When we "save" it, it isn't going into some bank to use later, we have to make the most of the time that is given to us.

An example of this that often frustrates me is people making time for each other. Whether it is friends, colleagues, or family, we have to deliberately make time for whatever we want to make time for, even when that might not be the path of least resistance. We always give each other the pleasantries of wanting to meet up and do something or talk more, but we often don't. After the long days of our busy lives, we end up procrastinating about these sort of things. Perhaps those are efforts that are best left undone, maybe they don't deserve our time, but a lot of them might warrant our attention and we have to push through the inertia to actually make it happen. If we don't then the decision about it will probably be made for us by the people and tasks we're neglecting.

We can do more and be better by spending purposeful energy thinking about what specifically we want to make time for and actually making that time. Schedule time to talk with that person you want to talk to, make a to-do list about that project you want to get done, and figure out what in your life deserves your attention.

Inertia is the enemy of productivity and the enabler of complacency. We can do more and be better to each other by being aware of it and actively working against it. We have to make time for what we want to make time for. Only then will we feel empowered to make positive change for ourselves and each other.

Thanks for stopping by!

Building Fails: Common Problems in Modern Office Buildings

When we think about modern businesses, we often think about a bunch of people crammed in an office. To be fair, that statement could have been made at any point in the past three decades and it would have rung true. And, to be fair (again), modern offices certainly aren’t as dreary as they used to be. But there are now more people than ever working away each day in an office, sitting down for over eight hours for at least five days a week.

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The problem here is that many modern offices suffer from a few building defects. Thankfully, they’re often things that can be remedied. And if these problems do affect your workplace, you should look into them as soon as you can. They affect the health and productivity of your employees, so get to it!

 

Indoor air quality

The air quality of your average interior isn’t great. Even modern homes that look clean are often filled with dusty, germ-infested air. Sturdy ventilation systems don’t seem to be as prominent in modern buildings as they once were. In offices, however, things are often much worse.

If you want your workers spending most of their week in the office, then it’s only fair that you get the air quality under control. You have to make sure the ventilation is working correctly, and that the air ducts are free from dust clogs. Any chemicals used in the building process, as well as throughout your tenure, will affect the air quality. Consider talking to the building owner, and perhaps look into getting an air filtration system.

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The lifts

Problems with lifts (or elevators) seem to be getting more and more common all the time. It seems strange, given that our technology here should have evolved. But lifts installed in the past decade or so seem to be more prone to error than the ones that have been around for a long time.

I’m not someone who feels that comfortable in lifts at the best of times. But if it breaks down, or is running slowly? Then that will cause immense stress. It will also lose you time, which will drastically cut productivity. Getting these things fixed often take way too long. But this shouldn’t be the case, nor does it need to be the case. Make sure you look up the best lift maintenance service you can get.

 

Over-illumination

Over-illumination isn’t something you may have heard of before, but you probably already know what I’m talking about. Over-illumination is such a prominent problem that it has its own Wikipedia article! An overabundance of artificial light is a problem in department stores, gyms, and - of course - offices.

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There’s an over-reliance on fluorescent lighting in offices. It zaps away so much energy - and I’m not just talking about electrical energy. Worker energy is also affected. There are certain things you can do to maximize the light that does come in. But, if it’s up to you, you should look into adding windows and skylights. They’re not quick, easy, or cheap solutions, I’ll grant you that. But when you consider the positive effects of increased natural light? Whatever price you pay could end up being a bargain.

 

These are just a few examples of how you can improve your office space. Being intentional and thinking about all the details of your office and how they can better support your team is important. It impacts employee productivity and retention, two crucial parts of a successful company culture. Think about the return on these investments and you should be able to get buy-in to create a physical space for your team that works for them as hard as they work for you!

How Figuring Out Your Values Optimizes Your Time

I personally have a lot of ideas about a lot of things. I love coming up with new projects or possibilities for any number of things in my life, such as writing different books, starting more podcasts, or tinkering with procedures related to my work managing a residence hall. It is true that we can do whatever we put our minds to, but to really achieve greatness, I feel that we need to prioritize things and perhaps say no to ideas that come up. I’ve written before on productivity and motivation, which I think is a great companion piece to what I’ll share here. There are several benefits to figuring out what our values and goals are and then devoting our attention to these things instead of other stuff that doesn’t connect to these focuses. This can help us achieve more in the long run.

Here are some of the specific benefits of figuring out our values and goals when it comes to our productivity:

Gives you focus

We all have a lot of things that we have to do, and things that we want to do, but in order to not be overwhelmed or waste time on things we shouldn’t be spending time on, we need to focus. I know when I have fewer things on my to-do list, it helps to motivate me to get to work. Also, if something is on my list to do that is not connected either to my job or to my writing, podcasting, or my site, it doesn’t feel as compelling to do since it is sort of irrelevant to what I’m really focused on for myself. This is an important lesson for students especially since they’ll tend to pile on a lot on their plates in terms of involvements thinking that is better for them. I believe that it is better to have fewer, more meaningful experiences that you can really focus on versus just as many clubs, jobs, and whatever else will take you.

Helps you be more engaged

We all know the feeling of when we’re in the zone with a task that is really engaging us. It could be a creative endeavor or just logging data away for a project that is important to you. There has been a lot of talk about it recent years, “flow” as it is called, and how it is something we should all seek as much as we can in our lives. If we’re spending a bunch of our time on tasks and projects that aren’t challenging, utilizing our strengths, or bringing us joy, then we should reassess our priorities to either spend more time on other things or just take time to figure out something to do with ourselves. Some things we have to do, but anything that we can have some choice and control over devoting ourselves to should be delegated to someone else who may get more out of that endeavor than we currently are.

Minimizes stress and frustration

Everyone can agree that getting assigned a task that we do not want to do is a bummer. Ideally our teams would be maximized so we all get projects that utilize our strengths, are engaging, and fulfill us. Sometimes we can’t control this, but as much as we can, we need to make time for the things we want to make time for. Otherwise, we’re spending time on stuff that makes us frustrated, and then we’re stressed because we don’t have as much time to devote to the things we actually want to do. Minimize stress and frustration by focusing as much as you can only on projects and tasks that bring you joy.


It may seem counter intuitive, but spending time figuring out what you want to spend time on can end up helping us be more productive and efficient in the long run. Once you’ve figured out your priorities, just make sure to keep yourself organized so you don’t lose any positive momentum you achieve!

A Geek's Guide to Productivity and Motivation

* This post was originally featured on The Student Affairs Hub.

Productivity is a fickle thing. It's objectively different for all of us (and our students) and what works best in terms of our personality (morning or night, at home or a coffee shop, etc.). Nevertheless, there are some general tips that can be beneficial to anyone as we all work towards getting the most we can out of each day.

1. Celebrate Each Little Milestone

A personal habit of mine is to have a little internal celebration for each of the small achievements I reach with any project. It could be a particular metric (views, downloads, etc.) or a specific first in my life (first guest post on my blog, or my first eBook). They don't have to be the best or the biggest, they just have to be important to you. Making sure to appreciate how far you've come, even when you're first starting, helps to motivate you when the going gets tough. I know that some of my projects have grown a lot over time, and it is nice to value all of the benchmarks along the way so that I don't forget where I came from.

2. Fall in Love with the Process

Something that can be difficult for a lot of people is the hard work that goes into all the details in something as simple as a blog post. It's awesome being able to share ideas with people, but before you get it out into the world as a blog post, you have to actually write, edit, choose a title, choose a header photo, format, pick categories and tags, and then you can push it out. Even then, you'll probably need to continue to promote the content to get it out to everyone you want to check it out. If you're not prone to wanting to put in the detailed work, you're most likely going to eventually give up since you don't want to do all the work that goes into whatever it is you're doing. You have to see how all the pieces come together and fall in love with the process to fully commit to any project you're undertaking.

3. Go Big (or Go Small)

When it comes to our to-do lists, there are the simple things we need to get done which may be incremental steps in a project, and then there are those big, ugly, hairy to-do list items that we'll do anything else possible to avoid. I totally can attest to these feelings and after reading some other articles on productivity (read my original thoughts here), I've found some helpful ways to combat never getting around to those pesky tasks we don't want to do, but should get to. On a given day, either commit to doing a bunch of little things (in order of priority) and have the momentum carry you through the get as many done as you can, or commit to just getting that one big task out of the way, and if you accomplish nothing else, at least you can feel satisfied in getting that one thing done.

Hopefully by following these general ideas you (or your students) can hack your productivity and crush whatever projects you're working on, big or small.

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review: The Good Creative

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"Be bold and brave with your art. Venture courageously with it into the unknown." - Paul Jarvis

I discovered this book through a promotional effort by the author, Paul Jarvis, for his recently launched podcast, Invisible Office Hours that he does with fellow cool person Jason SurfrApp (AKA Jason Sadler). He was giving away digital copies of The Good Creative for those that listened to the podcast and gave honest reviews, good or bad. I was intrigued by the podcast through recommendations of some awesome folks on Twitter so I listened, left my (positive) review, and got the book to check out. I got to it after I finished some other reading projects, and I blew through it in a day. I say that as a good thing.

The book, which reads more like a collection of blog posts than a dense tome, is a straightforward, concise collection of 18 tips from Jarvis about how to find personal satisfaction with the content you create. Your definition of success and whatever you make is up to you. He just helps you get there.

The book came out recently in April, and one in a series of other books by Jarvis about working freelance and creating a life as a "good creative". I found this one to be very applicable to my work running this blog (and where I hope it will eventually go). The writing is authentic, light, engaging, and actionable. Some of my favorite tips were about not feeling like you're "selling out" if you get sponsors or get paid to do your work as well as his advice about being authentic and telling your story. Something cool and unique about the book too, there are some really neat illustrations in the book to go along with all the tips.

I highly recommend this book! You can get it as a digital copy, a physical book, or an audiobook all on Paul's website.

If you read it, let me know what you think!

Thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 08/15/14

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Greetings!

Welcome to another week of geek outs! This week is filled with new apps that I've been checking out recently and thought I'd share with you all. Enjoy!

I've known about this neat add-on for a little while now but I just installed it ahead of the start of the academic year. I am very excited at the possibility it promises to help manage email outreach. Its simple premise is that you can schedule automatic followups if the message you sent was unread for a certain amount of days. It also allows for you to schedule out emails to go out at a later date/time. I see this being pretty useful with messages to my residence hall community about pertinent information. I also see the followup feature being very helpful keeping on top of correspondence with students, following up if they aren't responding in a given time. The add-on is free and is simple to use so I definitely recommend it!

I just got started using this app since I got it for free from Starbucks the other day since they give out cool free apps, music, books, etc. every once in a while. It is a neat to-do list app that has a neat interface and helps you do what you need to do when you need to do it. Think of it as a little personal assistant that will remind you about stuff. I haven't used it too much yet but I'm eager to see the possibilities as I get rolling with all the stuff I'm sure this first year of full-time work will entail.

For a while now I've been looking for one, end all calendar solution that brings all of my disparate calendars together automatically. Sunrise does just this. It links with any and all of your Google Calendars, your Apple iCal events, Facebook events, and Outlook. It has a great interface, updates seamlessly, and they have apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Google devices. It's an amazing, free app to get all of your appointments, meetings, and plans together in one place. I love it already after just about a week of use so you should definitely check it out. You'll be glad you did.

That's it for this week. Check back next Friday for more geek outs!

Thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 07/18/14

Geek-and-proudHey there!

Hope all is well with you! Here's what I'm geeking out about lately:

I just started watching this acclaimed HBO series since it is now all streaming on Amazon Prime (click above). The series is a cop drama based in Baltimore and I've heard about how great it is for years so I'm really happy I am able to dig into it now and see what the hype is all about. I will say, so far, that the characters on the show are portrayed really well and for it having debuted in 2002, I think this show was really ahead of its time and modern "golden age" of television we've been experiencing of late.

A friend of mine on Twitter recommended this podcast to me, and as an avid podcast listener, I wanted to check it out since I knew one of the hosts, Jason SurfrApp, from another podcast episode I recently listened to and enjoyed. The premise of this is that it is a show for those of us that don't have set offices and/or office hours, create things, and are essentially just creatively minded professionals. The show is casual, fun, engaging, and informative so it is the perfect style for me. Hopefully you enjoy it if you're into it and check it out, They just started posting episodes and have a few on some great topics so I definitely highly recommend it.

I worked with a member of this new indie alternative folk band when I was back in New Jersey at Rutgers. I am a fan of their unique sound and support my friend so I wanted to give them a shout-out here as they work to put their work out into the world. Here is a quick link to all their music on Soundcloud. They're all over social media so you can connect and follow them there and if you're in the greater New Jersey area, they're playing live shows around there. I wish them the very best of luck!

Thanks for stopping by as always! Have a great weekend.