In last week’s post about whether or not productivity hacks actually work, I shared why so many hacks don’t work.
This week, here are 7 productivity hacks that seem helpful, but aren’t – unless you implement them effectively and efficiently.
1 Relying on Reminder Systems
How many times have you set a reminder for “later” so you remember to do something? But when later arrives, you’re in the middle of something else, so you hit snooze or delete. I’ve watched folks spend more time rescheduling reminders than actually working on their tasks. To efficiently use a reminder system, take a peek at your calendar to see when you’d have time to complete this task before its due date and set a reminder for that specific time frame. If you want to kick it up a notch for important projects, make an appointment with yourself on your calendar for that time block.
2 Turning on Notifications So You Won’t Miss Out
The brain takes an average of 60 seconds to restart, so each time that notification dings or vibrates on your device, you’ve just cost yourself one minute. Office workers receive an average of 100 communications per day, so you do the math on lost time each day. To avoid this, check your emails, texts or messages when your brain is ready to receive the information. Whether this is every three hours or every seven minutes, you’ll get far more done during your concentrated time instead of constantly being interrupted.
3 Taking Set Breaks
Our brains work at different intensity levels and with varying attention spans depending on the task that’s in front of us. If you set alarms at specific times of the day to take a mandated brain break, you might actually be interrupting your productivity levels. Instead, take your breaks when you feel your energy dwindling or your attention shrinking.
4 Playing Catch-Up or Getting Ahead in the Evenings or on Weekends
If this happens once a year, it’s not a terrible thing. But when it’s a regular pattern, you’re actually driving down your productivity levels. Neuroscience tells us that our brains need recharge time in order to be more productive. But if we’re spending our evenings or weekends working, then we’re not getting that much-needed recharge, which causes us to work at lower productivity levels the following day and the day after that and the day after….
5 Relying on Apps to Solve Your Problems
Apps can be helpful tools if you’ve selected the ones that will be most beneficial for your specific needs and you implement them as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of clients who previously spent inordinate amounts of time switching from app to app to app in order to find the perfect one that would solve all of their problems, or they spent hours making sure they’d planned everything to a T within the app, including taking into account all possible contingencies that occur in this galaxy and neighboring ones. They lose time to apps instead of saving time.
6 Daily To-Do Lists
What makes to-do lists unproductive is when you leave off one of the most important pieces of information: time estimations. When you create your list from stream of conscience and don’t take into consideration the amount of time it will take to complete each item on the list, you’ve set yourself up for failure. So many people create 10-hour to-do lists when they actually only have two to three hours total between all of their meetings to get work done. Then they lose additional time transferring the undone items to the next day’s list. Instead, create your to-do list using time estimations for your top-priority tasks.
7 Time Blocking Your Entire Day
If you deal with humans or technology, your day will never go according to plan. Ever. Ever, ever. If you time block or time box every minute of your entire day with meetings and tasks, you won’t have any space for fires or opportunities that crop up. Give yourself a cushion by time blocking gaps in your day for handling the unexpected.