Productivity Hacks That Actually Work (Part 1 of a 3 part series!)

Business Ops, Entrepreneur Life, Productivity

CaTEGORY

9/18/2019

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Productivity Hacks That Actually Work (Part 1 of a 3 part series!)

KaTE PaNNELL

The one in the polka dots with bright red lipstick. Think of me as your brand's lyricist. I turn your brand message & story into song, and make your dreamboat clients high-dollar groupies.

THESE aRE a FEW OF MY FaVORITE THINGS:

- my musician husband, Chayse
- our kitten Eleanor Rigby (& The Beatles)
- midcentury music & decor
- messy buns & winged eyeliner
- telling everyone I'm an enneagram 3w4
- orange kitchen appliances
- brass candlesticks & depression glass
- an old fashioned and a jazz ballad

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If you’re normal you probably have a really long to-do list. Maybe you feel like you can’t ever get to the end of it. Maybe most days you reflect back on your work day and think “what did I do all day?”

I was in the same boat, and I’m not just saying that to make you feel better.

Here are some of my FAVORITE productivity hacks that make me feel accomplished at the end of…well, however long I choose to work! Yes, I am that efficient. You can be too.

First let’s get to the root cause of your productivity problem. You can take this quiz, or keep reading.

You don’t know the “hacks” for success.

Your mom probably taught you a little something in your school days. You might have picked up a semi-stable routine in college or a job. But have you done some real productivity hack investigating? Kudos to you because you’re doing it right now. Here’s the thing though, much like motivation, hacks only get you so far. You still have to finish reading this page, and take action. Don’t restrict yourself to old tactics, learn new tricks of the trade and get to work. 

You never cared to upgrade your methods.

You’ve made it this far! It’s time to modify and improve your productivity potential. Keep reading. 

You are easily distracted.

Now why would a grown woman (or man?) come to little ole me for productivity hacks? Because I figured out a method that is fail-proof. I don’t get distracted. I get shit done.

Here’s what you really came for… shall we?

Correct me if I’m wrong (but I’m not), but you want to do better than “getting by,” right? You want to feel like you are capable of completing a task from start to finish, AND keeping said task to your standards.

Monkey see, monkey do sis. Let’s get it.

1. Pomodoro technique  

You may have heard about this, but maybe you’re not familiar with the term. This is the idea to complete tasks on a timer. It’s recommended to work in short 25 minute sprints! 

But here’s the catch. You can’t do it once, and think you’ve mastered the Pomodoro technique. For best results, you have to repeat, repeat, and repeat again. Personally, I like to double the time. I work in 50 minute blocks. 50 minutes on. 10 minutes off. The more you do it, the better your concentration and focus while the clock’s ticking.

2. Take 2.

As a general rule of thumb, if something is going to take you 2 minutes or less, just do it. Don’t even waste 2 minutes of your Pomodoro 25 minute timer. You’ll waste more time writing it down in full detail than it would take to complete the task.

3. Physically write out your top 3 to-do’s

You have to prioritize, AND fully SPELL IT OUT. Just like you have to have perfect clarity in your marketing messaging, you also have to give yourself the same respect. You’re less likely to complete a task if it says “research blog topics” as opposed to “research 3 ways to improve SEO to drive traffic to your site.” 

Call me crazy, but it really does prevent you from drifting to kiiiinda related tasks that don’t get you any further to accomplishing anything.

4. Make the word “no” your BEST. FRIEND.

Can it be hard to say “no?” Absolutely. But it can be even harder to stare at a list that consumes ALL your time, and live with the fact that YOU ALLOWED every item on that list to be there. Now, before you get all anxious about telling someone or some task to buzz off, know that you don’t have to justify your answer. Seriously. Practice with me.
“Hey, can you do (x) for me?” “No.”

“Will you have time to get to (x) today?” “No.”

“I have a question. Can you call me?” “No.”

No, is a complete sentence. I always follow up with a little more than that so I don’t come across a stone-cold ass, but you don’t actually have to. Your follow up to “no” could be as simple as, “I have prior engagements,” or “but I’m available between 2-4pm tomorrow.”

I’ll be the first to admit, this was hard for me to do when I had to say no to my former boss. The more tasks I was given, the madder I got. That’s when I quickly adopted this trick:

  1. Show your boss your current task list and ask which of these takes top priority.
  2. Estimate the number of time that TOP task will take and then say “That’ll take about (x) hours/minutes, so I’ll only have time to get to (x) other items on this list today. Can (new task) wait?

“No” doesn’t mean you’re bad at taking direction, or disrespectful. It’s about self-respect and placing boundaries for protection. Your time and energy is valuable, and ya gotta let a boss know.

5. Set specific times to check email

The fact of the matter is, it’s just too easy to get sucked in to the inbox. You told yourself you’d just read or send a couple, and now you’re organizing all the hundreds of unread messages.

Newsflash: emails are not meant to be responded to immediately. They will be there when you make time for them.

I pop into my email no more than 3 times a day; a morning, mid-day, and evening check-in. Sometimes just a lunchtime and a dinner time peek suffices. My former business coach actually included a disclaimer in her email signature about which times of day she checks her email, and to expect a reply within 24-48 hours max. No one ever gave her flack for it! She set a boundary, and stuck to it! Genius, if you ask me.

So there ya have it, five of my top productivity hacks. I have a LOT more that I’ll be sharing in Part II of this blog. Comment below which tips you’ve tried and how they worked for you!

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