Productivity hacks and time management hacks are popular search terms on Google. Productivity and time management are topics that millions of people are interested in because they want to know how to be more effective and efficient with their time. Is there a better way to work? Is there a way to do more in less time? Is there a way to stop working around the clock? Do productivity hacks actually work? I get asked those questions all of the time because the go-getters I work with want to accomplish more, but they also want to have a life outside of work.
When prospective coaching and seminar clients are interviewing me, I listen for a “red flag” term: hacks. The word hacks implies a shortcut, a quick and easy way to do something. There are definitely some time management hacks that can be utilized – like keyboard shortcuts – but in the end, if you truly want to be more productive by managing your time better, there are foundational principles to be applied – and not just hacks. The term “hacks” is a signal to me that I need to dig in a little deeper to find out if they’re using that term because it’s in society’s current hip-term vocabulary and they truly want to learn for the long-term, or are they looking only for a band-aid and a quick fix?
I recently was asked some refreshing questions by a journalist. Instead of requesting the typical top three productivity hacks, she first asked what the definition of productivity even was, and – get this! – which hacks didn’t work. Revolutionary!
Here were my answers to her first two questions:
Definition of Productivity
My abbreviated definition is: working efficiently and effectively to produce quality results
My full definition is: Creating efficient and effective habits and systems that allow you to live, work and achieve a purposeful, fulfilling life.
Why So Many Hacks Are Ineffective
We live in a microwave society. We want everything instantly, including solutions to our challenges. This is why hacks are popular. People think they’ve discovered a magical shortcut that will make their lives infinitely better. Hacks usually don’t work for the long-term because only the tactical portion of the hack is attempted. But when we understand the strategy behind the tactic, we can implement that hack in the way that will best work for our individual needs.
During my client sessions and seminars, I preach that “time management is all about mind management.” It’s our brains that decide how we’ll use every second of every minute of the day. Our brains are the single most important time management tool. That’s why one of the most critical “hacks” I teach my clients is intentionally pausing. Those of us who rush around to attempt to complete as much as possible and/or please as many people as possible tend to react to questions and requests instantly and in the order they’re received. However, pausing for a moment or two allows our brains to make better long-term and short-term decisions about where our time should go so we can respond instead of just react. If you understand that strategy and implement it, you’ll climb to a whole new realm of productivity.
If you understand that the strategy behind the hack is just as important as the tactical hack itself, you’ll find much more success with implementing solutions for the long-term.
In next week’s post, I’ll share with you the top 7 productivity hacks that don’t work.