20 July 2020

Mini-Productivity Hacks

by Chris Winfield-Blum

When I was working with multiple teams one of the first workshops I would take them through was about productivity hacks. These are techniques, approaches or methods that can be developed into a working habit that improves your productivity – that is, allows you to get more out of your day.

In truth, any aspect of your life can be “hacked” to be more effective and productive including; personal, professional or social.

Irrespective of your position in the organisation; your time is the most valuable asset that you have, both personally and professionally.

Don’t forget that; time is the one thing that money can’t buy!

These tips/hacks can be applied to your life in general, how is going to be dependant on how you live and work but first…

Let’s agree multitasking is bs

Multi-tasking is a myth, research shows that it simply doesn’t work regardless of gender or declared ability to multi-task.

We can literally only focus on one thing at a time and every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there is a cost for;

deciding to switch > switching > focusing > deciding on what you need to do > getting it done

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So now that’s out of the way, let’s get started with 4, simple to implement productivity hacks!

# 1 Task Batching

This is the process of reviewing your work regularly and batching tasks that are similar in nature, that being;

  • common knowledge or skills required to complete them
  • shared resources that are required to assist or work with

Switching between tasks that are different in nature, like analytical vs creative vs administrative, has been shown to have similar “switching costs” than trying to multi-task

#2 Know When to Shut it Down

One of the biggest killers of productivity is hitting the “a wall” and not being effective. Some signs this is happening to you;

  • finished reading or writing a passage or email and not remembering what you wrote or read
  • eyes glazing over while looking at your screen or work

If this is happening, shut it down, do something creative, active or just fun for 15 minutes and come back refreshed, energised and ready to smash that troublesome task!

#3 Commit to a Daily Top 3 Tasks

Nothing helps productivity than building momentum through the setting and successfully completing tasks that you have committed to.

Every morning review your tasks and commit to completing a TOP 3

#4 If / When / Then statements

The premise of this hack is that our minds work best through the power of association, even subtle ones.

Does “I’m going to lose weight!”, “I’m going to quit smoking” or “I’m going to study” sound familiar?

Evidence from multiple research studies suggests that the issue with these types of goals or statements is that, even considering a persons own drive and motivation levels, success rates are relatively low

The issue comes down to one simple but important, psychological factor;

We rarely associate our goals with a specific event!

Meaning, we have no psychological trigger to remind us of our goals and therefore encourage us to action them

The if / when / then principle has been proven to increase the likelihood of success significantly, in fact in one study, 91% of people who used an if-then statement stuck to an exercise program, versus 39% of non-planners

So IF / WHEN I set personal or professional goals THEN I will use the if/when/then approach

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So in summary: To Get Hacking

  1. Batch your tasks
  2. When you’re being ineffective – shut it down and refresh
  3. Commit to your daily top 3 tasks
  4. Use if/when/then statements for your actions, goals & objectives

What do you think? Let me know!


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