5 Simple Productivity Hacks That Can Immediately Improve Your Life

Although you can't make more time, you can certainly make the most of your time.

face
Avantgarde/stock.adobe.com

As a business leader, you may feel like "busy" is your middle name. Between meetings, daily tasks, emails and being pulled away for "just five minutes," your day is packed full. But how can you get strategic about how you manage your days?

Let's take a deep dive into how to get the most out of your day with some time-saving productivity hacks.

5 Practical Hacks for Maximizing Productivity

There are many things you can do to maximize your productivity. Since everybody operates differently, you'll find that some hacks will work better for you than others.

The common ground between all of the productivity hacks I'll discuss is structure and priorities. Adding structure to your day can help keep you on task.

That said, let's take a look at five hacks you can use to maximize your productivity.

1. Optimize Meetings

Meetings likely take up a ton of your time, but they don't have to. Of course, you likely have a lot of information to cover with a variety of teams and people, but these interactions can be streamlined to save time for all parties involved.

Let's take a look at a few ways to optimize your meetings.

Create an agenda: The easiest way to save time in meetings is to share an objective and agenda with all participants ahead of time, and use it to guide the conversations. You could go as far as to put time stamps on each agenda item to keep things moving quickly.

Create a 'parking lot' list for runaway conversations or issues, and assign a point of contact to follow up on the issue identified at the meeting. Create an action list that assigns the task to a specific person so that everyone is clear on the next steps.

Send your message in a video: Another way to save time on meetings is by getting more strategic about what subject matters warrant meetings and what can be handled with a video. There is a lot of information that can be shared using a platform like Loom, which makes communication more efficient.

2. Schedule Time for Emails

If you're the type of person to head over to your inbox any time it dings, you may need to reconsider. Instead, schedule two times a day that is dedicated to checking and answering emails.

First, start by getting rid of the junk and any emails that don't require your attention.

Next, do a quick skim to categorize your emails into one of the four categories or folders:

Forward: Can it be handled by your assistant or someone else on your team? If so, forward it.

Reply now: If an email simply needs a quick response that will take under two minutes, draft your response, hit send, and move to the next.

Later: Does the email require a response or an action that will take longer than two minutes? Schedule it on your calendar to handle at an allotted time.

No action needed: If an email is to inform you and requires no action, place it in this folder to review later.

When you adopt this sort of email routine, you don't get pulled away from the task at hand any time your inbox dings. Ideally, you should have an assistant who can manage your emails and place them in the appropriate action folder.

3. Write It Down

The number of things that you need to accomplish in a day may seem endless. You probably have a digital calendar that includes meetings and engagements, but do you have a consolidated document with every task or project you have to do?

There is a lot of value in writing out the tasks you have for the day. This helps you clearly see what has to be done and as you check off each box, you can visualize the progress.

4. What Gets Scheduled Gets Done

As you document what needs to be done, add it to your calendar. If you've ever had a task move from today to tomorrow, and it's still there next month, then your system might not be working for you. Instead, make yourself a priority by scheduling what you need to do. Blocking off time for specific tasks improves productivity, efficiency, and your sleep. No more waking up in the middle of the night remembering a task that you need to complete—yesterday!

Sort tasks based on the following criteria:

  • Priority
  • Deadline
  • The amount of time it will take to complete
  • Whether or not it can be delegated

Take this a step further and determine which hours of the day you are personally the most productive and keep that in mind as you schedule your tasks. For example, if you do your best work in the morning, block off time on your calendar for the tasks that need the most attention.

5. Maximize Breaks

Sitting down and expecting to be productive for eight hours straight is simply not realistic. Take regular breaks to rest and recharge.

During the workday, "active recovery" may be the best way to go. Instead of taking a 15-minute break to scroll aimlessly through social media, do something that has a bit more intention behind it.

For example, read or listen to something motivational. If you want to grab a snack or something to drink, focus on that. Put in time on the Peloton or yoga mat in your office. The key is to take a moment to care for yourself.

Time Is Your Most Precious Commodity

Although you can't make more time, you can certainly make the most of your time. I urge you to try out the methods discussed above to see what works best for you. Just remember, you are worth it and your team will thank you for being at the top of your game.

Now, what are you waiting for? It's time to get back to the grind and make the most of your time!

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
What's this?
Content labeled as the Expert Forum is produced and managed by Newsweek Expert Forum, a fee based, invitation only membership community. The opinions expressed in this content do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Newsweek or the Newsweek Expert Forum.