Here are 20 super-powerful productivity hacks

When you have a lot going on, staying productive can be a real challenge. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, burnt out, or like you want to just give up.

I definitely have this happen. There are days when I feel like there are 1000+things on my to-do list and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a cup of tea.

On days when I’m feeling unmotivated – or even just as a general practice – having some “productivity hacks” on hand is VERY helpful. It helps get more things done in less time and creates more time for the things that bring you non-work happiness.

Because of that, I thought I’d share 20 things that you can do as well to improve your productivity, focus, and momentum towards your goals. As always, I’ve included practical tools and resources wherever possible.

If you start doing even a handful of things from the list below, you should be able to see a near-immediate improvement in what you can accomplish every day.

Let’s dive in…

How to be productive each and every (work)day, in no particular order:

Break up bigger projects into mini-tasks

If you’re faced with a big and challenging project, you can start to feel overwhelmed and avoid making progress as a result.

To help with this, it makes sense to break your big tasks into smaller bite-sized pieces and then proceed to tackle one small piece at a time.

For example, if you know you want to make a new blog post, you might actually have 4 action steps that you do either in one day or throughout a couple days. You could include “outline the post’s main points”, “come up with a title”, “write a rough draft”, and “proofread”.

None of those individual items are overwhelming and they end up taking you to exactly where you want to go.

I talk about breaking down goals in a lot more depth in my book Take Control of Your Life so check it out if you’re interested. It’s free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Batch your work

By “batching”, I mean, work on similar tasks all at once.

For example, if you have a couple things you need to take care of on Facebook, such as responding to messages and posting a few promotions, then try to pair those tasks together and do them one right after another.

If you have a few tasks that involve writing, do them back-to-back since they use a similar skill set.

This will help you stay in a flow state versus jumping from unrelated task to unrelated task which takes up a lot more mental bandwidth.

Set a schedule for your tasks

It’s amazing how much more productive you can be when there’s a schedule or a deadline (even if it’s self-imposed) that you have to meet. This is especially true of the more time-consuming tasks or those involving multiple parts and steps.

For the blog post example again, another way you might schedule that could be as follows:

9:00am – 9:45am – Research and take notes.

9:45am – 11:00am – Write first draft.

11:00am – 11:20am – Take a break.

11:20am – 11:45am – Proofread and edit.

11:45am – 12:00pm – Read through once more and publish.

I’ve found it VERY helpful to use a simple kitchen timer when working. It feels like I’m racing against the clock to get things done according to my timelines and makes it far less likely for me to get distracted.

Look for shortcuts

There are often ways that you can shortcut your work to make things more efficient.

For example, if you’re emailed the same customer service questions over and over, create a document with scripts that you can copy and paste so you reduce the amount of time you have to spend answering emails. Here’s a link to a blog post I made last year with a series of customer service templates and Etsy snippets.

As another example, there are many shortcuts you can use for Google research. Here’s a post I’d made about Google search operators.

There are other things you can do with automation (blog post coming up on that soon!), with outsourcing, templates, or so on.

If there’s anything you’d like me to blog about around shortcuts, leave a comment and let me know. I’d love your thoughts.

Find an accountability partner

Having a good partner can be VERY helpful.

I actually used to run an accountability program in which my assistant and I would communicate with participants about what their goals were and then we could check in with them every day to make sure they were moving forward and staying on task. I’d since closed the program but one of the participants, 5 or so years later, still emails my assistant every day because she finds it so helpful.

When you have someone holding you accountable for your work, slacking off feels a lot more uncomfortable because you don’t want to let that person down.

A friend and I do this thing called “Power Hours” (not to be confused with this, although that works, ha!). We’ll tell each other what we plan to accomplish in the next hour and then check in at the end to see what we did.

We also have something where we’ll tell each other our big 3 goals for each day. If we don’t reach those goals, we have to pay the other person $10. We both trash talk each other a lot which is very helpful, haha, because it makes us not want to pay the other person.

To find an accountability partner, you can join relevant Facebook groups and try to form connections with other group members. You can also try joining a group on MeetUp.com if you’re looking for something more face-to-face.

Erase items from your to-do list

Look at each item on your to-do list and think, “Do I REALLY need to do this? Is it driving me closer to my main goal?”

Of course there are some items you will need to do. You’ll likely also find a bunch of busy-work that is nonessential. Maybe it got there because it was a quick win of crossing something off your list, or maybe it’s something you thought would be cool to try. Remember your end goals though, and stick to the tasks that make the most sense for your overall goals.

Remove your phone from your workspace

Most people check their phones a lot throughout the day.  And when you keep yours within arm’s reach, the temptation to pick it up is typically too great – especially if you hear a message come in.

Even if you only check your phone and respond to texts and calls once in a while, it can still hinder your productivity. The conversations you have don’t immediately leave your brain once you put your phone down.  The content of those interactions can stay with you throughout the day and impact your progress.

To help with this, it’s best to keep your devices out of sight and mind until you have a scheduled break-time.

Do a 5-10 minute workout before starting your workday

Exercise gets your blood flowing and has been proven to increase productivity and make you feel better thanks to endorphins that get released. If you search online, there are tons of quick exercise videos you can follow along to from the comfort of your home.

Even if you just have a few minutes to spare, five minutes of exercise is still worthwhile. My trainer tells me that 5 minutes is pretty much the time equivalent of a Facebook news feed scroll. So skip that and and opt to get your blood flowing instead – it’s a much better use of your time. :)

Disable messages from your computer

Some people have it so that whenever they get a message on their phones they get an alert on their computers too. If you have this feature enabled, turn it off. The messages only distract you.

Focus on your “Big 3” tasks

Being productive isn’t only about getting a lot of things done. It’s about getting the most important things done.

While you may have a ton of things to accomplish, have 1-3 things listed out each day that, if finished by the end of the day, you’ll know you can go to bed feeling proud and productive.

Not only does this keep you focused on what will take you closest to your goals, but completing the items also gives you a way to “win” each day.

Take multiple small breaks instead of one big break

While you might think working multiple hours straight would yield higher productivity rates than taking a 10-minute break every hour, the opposite is actually true.

Studies show that more frequent breaks actually increase productivity and helps you avoid the super-burn-out feeling you can get after spending too much time focusing on something intense.

Change your location

Routines can be helpful, but if you never change your patterns, you can start to feel stuck.

If you work from a home office for example, maybe move to the kitchen or go to a local coffee shop in the afternoons.

Personally, I usually spend 90 minutes on my treadmill desk, then another 90 downstairs to the kitchen table. I have both places pre-stocked with a huge jug of water. It helps keep me motivated.

If you have a traditional job and are able to switch locations, take advantage of that.

Schedule an end to your day – and stick to it

Set a time for when you’re going to stop working and be truly done for the day. You need downtime so you can unwind and feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

Once you trust your “stop” time, you’ll be more productive because you’ll have that deadline to work against.

And by giving yourself times to NOT work, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and have less of the hamster-wheel-of-work-work-work feeling that’s so easy to acquire.

Get comfortable saying no

Things come up – extra projects at work, friends who want to get together, little favors that people may ask of you, etc…

But you can’t say yes to everything.

Obviously you need to balance and not say no ALL the time, but if you’re like most people, you could stand to say no more often.

Learn how to set boundaries and don’t be shy about saying no to non-urgent activities. You can kindly explain to people that your goals are important to you and you need to spend time working on them.

Discover your “peak performance” hours

Not everyone works best during the hours between 9 and 5. Some people work better super early in the morning, while other people are night owls and experience heightened levels of creativity and productivity bursts late at night.

Peak performance hours vary from person to person, so figure out when you work best and then structure your work day around those times.

And if you’d like to try to become a morning person, you might like this Huffington Post article I wrote back in 2015 – How to become a morning person.

Use site blockers

If you’re like most people, you spend too much time scrolling social media or watching YouTube videos than you should during the workday. It can be very hard not to just pop over to Instagram to see what your friends have been posting, but then POOF — somehow a whole hour goes by.

Using site blockers can help a lot with this problem. These will let you “block” sites from yourself so you can focus your time on being productive.

Here are a few that you can try:

Hide your email inbox

Checking your inbox and responding to non-urgent emails is one of the biggest time-sucks and can seriously take a toll on your productivity.

There’s a Chrome extension that can help with this. It’s called Inbox When Ready. The way it works is it hides your inbox along with your unread emails, but you can still search, write, and send emails if you want. This way, you stay more focused and don’t feel as compelled to check or respond to every single unread email right away.

Save menial work for the end of the day

Sometimes we have repetitive yet essential tasks that need to get done, like filling out a spreadsheet or uploading items to UseGearBubble.

Save those types of items for the end of the day.

The beginning of your workday is when you have the most brainpower to get things done. Use that time to do your creative or big-thinking tasks.

As your creativity and discipline wane, then do the menial tasks that you don’t need much intelligence for.

Prep ahead by writing out your top 3 goals for the next day

At the end of each workday spend 10-15 minutes jotting down a list of the 2-3 most important things you need/want to do the following day.

This helps your subconscious can start “working” on those items while you sleep, plus it helps you hit the ground running the next day.

Give yourself a “score” at the end of each day

At the end of each day, think about how your day went. Ask yourself what 1-3 things could have made your day better.

You may even want to give yourself a “score” for the day.

Having this as a routine will help you identify the ways you can flow more consistently and have more efficient days. And since the answers will be custom tailored to you personally, they’ll be very practical and easier to implement.

I hope you find this list of productivity hacks useful! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

If you work from home, here are 20 ways to supercharge your productivity levels.

 

31 High-Achievers Share Their Top Tips for Staying Motivated and Productive

This time of year, there’s a lot of craziness going on, in both our personal and professional lives. (I’ve definitely started to feel a little manic over the last couple of weeks!)

And so, if you start to feel your motivation or productivity levels start to wane during all the craziness, I’ve got 31 pieces of advice right here that can help zap you back into high gear.

Awhile back, my assistant got in touch with a variety of high-achieving people, mostly via Udemy and Etsy, and asked them the following question:

In 50-60 words or less, what is the #1 tip you can share for how to keep going and stay productive when you’re not feeling at all motivated?

Most people who responded shared a lot more than 50-60 words!

Below, you’ll find a list of the people who contributed. Then, you’ll get to see the pearls of wisdom these high-achievers had to share along with a link to where you can learn more about each person and what they have to offer.

Hopefully at least one of these tips helps:

  1. Thor Pederson
  2. Ken Wells
  3. Brian Jackson
  4. Doru Catana
  5. Ali Mirza
  6. Sarah O’Leary
  7. Amgad El-Sakka
  8. Jonathan Levi
  9. Martin Georgiev
  10. Iulian Bubolea
  11. Tyler Speegle
  12. Elmira Strange
  13. Carl Pullein
  14. Dr. Roy Naraine
  15. Paulina Antonova
  16. Adam Karsh
  17. Emily Stoneking
  18. Benjamin Hero
  19. Andrew Alexander
  20. Alina Kislenko
  21. Nadine Bekkouche
  22. Dawid Tuminski
  23. Donald Wong
  24. Josh Paulsen
  25. Mike Hohenwarter, MSc
  26. Karen Oliver
  27. Tanmoy Das
  28. Oskars Dombrava
  29. Mr. Mohamed Dafallah
  30. Samantha Lynn
  31. Margaret

You can read each person’s complete advice below or jump down to the bottom to view a more condensed version of the advice shared in a downloadable infographic.

Break bigger goals or tasks down into more bite-sized, manageable steps.


Thor Pederson

It is important to envision the end goal, see and feel having achieved the goal. Break the goal into manageable pieces, keep breaking it down until each step is achievable in a reasonable amount of time. Use rewards, milestones and envision each larger sub-goal.


Ken Wells

When you’re not feeling motivated: go micro…

Once you’re clear on the big picture (your “why”), then you need to break your goals into smaller, manageable chunks.

When you run into motivation issues…focus on even smaller pieces.

Find one tiny piece of the process you can work on to move towards your goal. It could be just focusing on writing a blog post title, instead of the whole blog post.

Brian Jackson

When a problem seems so overwhelming that I don’t know how to begin to solve it, I Swiss cheese the problem.  I break the problem into small, easily performed tasks and begin taking small steps towards my goal.  In other words, I punch small holes in my problem as if I’m making Swiss cheese until the problem is all gone.

Stop over-thinking and start taking action!


Doru Catana

DO IT. What I found, looking at others, at myself, everywhere I look, was that the problem is not motivation, [it’s] not skill, it’s actually taking action and doing. We do excessive research, over-think things, over-complicate things, analyze a million outcomes, when in reality, if we just did it already, we would have been far better off. The problem is we think too much and do too little. So what if you’re wrong? Adapt, change, switch what you’re doing. But at the center of getting things done is actually doing, not thinking about it.

Ali Mirza

Take “MIA” (Massive Imperfect Action). Just get moving and take action. Action brings clarity, and automatically, we start moving towards our goals. Many people get into the “thinking mode” and that’s dangerous. The key is to stop thinking too much and take action.

Sarah O’Leary

As we really started our Etsy shop in the early days of digital products for handmade artists, we really had no place to look for advice. It was really a trial-and-error process for us that lead us to build the business model we have today. One thing we know for sure is that execution trumps knowledge any day of the week.

We really focused on working to building inventory, developing marketing strategies, and sharing our business through social media by never, ever, putting [off until] tomorrow what we could do today. Setting goals and action plans and actually doing them is really the best advice we could have gotten.

We did expand our knowledge and followed multiple [pieces of] advice from mentors and masterclasses over the years and still [do] to this day, but what is most important is that you apply those principles right now, as soon as you can into your business. By doing that we were able to exceed market expectations and create our dream business.

Find a reason or purpose that inspires and propels you forward and hold onto it. 


Amgad El-Sakka

It’s all about finding a reason, a purpose, a goal, a motive. You can call it what you want, but it can’t be money because money is a result, not a goal by itself.

My personal goal, which may sound cheesy, was marriage and love. I needed money, so I needed to work as much as I could in order to marry this girl because I had a lot of responsibilities. If I’d worked for money only, I wouldn’t have married her.

The point is; this reason, this purpose made me wake up in the morning. It was the first thing that I thought about when I woke up, the last thing I thought about before I slept; because I knew that in order to reach this purpose or this girl, I had to work hard. When I felt disappointed, de-motivated, or even bored while working and that reason simply wasn’t just enough, I had another reason, which was to keep going for my own pride and my family’s pride.

So to cut it short, it’s all about finding a good enough reason for YOU. And only YOU can determine a good enough reason for YOU. Whenever you need to do something and get it done effectively, you have to find the reason. If you don’t have a [reason], you may get things done, but you’re going to hate it and may quit way faster than if you had a really good reason that moves you and helps you to get these things done.

Finally, the trickiest part is when you actually achieve something, I mean, when you actually get to that reason. In this case, you have to celebrate, rest, and find a new reason.

Jonathan Levi

Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Nothing keeps you as motivated as the long-term vision as to why your actions matter and what you’re working towards.

Martin Georgiev

If you are not feeling motivated today, then check who are you doing it for? If you [are] doing it for yourself, [that] is not motivating enough. Think of your parents or grandparents (and how much it cost them so you [could] be here today), think of your country or your (future) children.

Iulian Bubolea

To stay productive and motivated when you don’t feel it, remember why you started! It’s natural and normal to feel that laziness. Any natural habit can be changed if we focus on good emotions. One of these good emotions is old feelings of being enthusiastic about your final goal. Remember why you started!

(Link includes a coupon code.)

Tyler Speegle

I’m a writer, so when I don’t feel motivated to write, I go back to the reason why I started in the first place. I started writing because I want to connect with people. Inspire them. Encourage them. That reason why is a constant, so I know I can always depend on it for motivation when I need it most.

Elmira Strange

1. Remember the reasons for starting your project (business). What is it you wanted?  To have independence, to stay at home, to travel the world whilst working ‘online’? Take 2-3 minutes and realize how far you’ve come. This is not the time to procrastinate!

2. Find a reward that will work for you! You can reward yourself with a favorite movie, delicious snack, or some little shopping, but only after you complete today’s project!

Practice visualization. Imagine the life you want (or the one you want to avoid).


Carl Pullein

Staying productive and motivated starts with your vision of the life and lifestyle you want. Without that, you lose motivation and get caught up in unimportant busy work stuff that takes you nowhere, fast. So, my advice, decide what you want, and have one or two tasks each day that take you closer towards achieving the vision you want for you.

Dr. Roy Naraine

The strategy that works best for me is visualization. I analyze the purpose of my task, the consequences of not following through, and the benefits of completing it. I turn these thoughts over in my mind and go through the action of actually carrying out the tasks the night before. The next day, everything works like a charm.

Paulina Antonova

There is a great exercise to get fired up. Remember the moment in your life when you felt greatly empowered. It can be anything, sports competitions, work success etc. Define the exact moment/second when you felt extremely powerful. Relive that moment, feel it to the fullest. What you were wearing, what position you were taking, what were you thinking about. Remember that feeling. It will bring you back to the state of “I can do everything” and will motivate you.

Adam Karsh

My personal technique to maintain productivity when motivation levels are low is simply reminding myself of how the task at hand fits in the bigger picture, and to visualize the positive outcome. I strongly believe in the concept of delayed gratification (i.e. accept present pain and discomfort for future success).

Emily Stoneking

Honestly, I keep motivated by imagining what my life would be like if I had to grind out a 9-to-5 job somewhere, working for someone else, and not having control over my own hours. I would be miserable. So however much I might want to nap, keeping up with my to-do list takes priority! (But later…a nap!)

Benjamin Hero

The best tip I can give to stay motivated and productive is to embrace all sides of motivation: both the negative and the positive. We have often been told that we need to have a pure source of motivation in order for us to maintain a level head, but tapping into the negative energy, when it is available, will turn you into a productive animal!

Hold yourself accountable.


Andrew Alexander

Most people think they have to “feel” motivated in order to take action. For those who are struggling to take action, they are usually more motivated by avoiding immediate pain. The solution is to find one task you have to do (go to the gym, write one chapter for you book, etc.) and write a $100 check to a friend, and hand it to them. If you take action, you get the check back. If you don’t take action, they cash it. This way, the fear of losing the money will put you in action like it never has before.

(Link includes a coupon code.)

Alina Kislenko

Give a friend 10 or 20 dollars (whatever amount you don’t want to lose) and tell them to only give it back if you finish your project step by a certain date and time. That puts a fire under your as$ like no one’s business and helped me graduate top of my class from my master’s degree!

Take care of yourself first and foremost.


Nadine Bekkouche

To keep going and stay productive when you’re not feeling at all motivated, you need to…

Take care of yourself! Figure out what would make you feel better right now. A jog, a stretch, some music, a chat, a hug, some sleep, some healthy food? Give it to yourself. Once your needs are met, you can remember how passionate you feel about your goals, your work…and get back in there!

Dawid Tuminski

The #1 tip to keep going and stay productive is to just stop and relax until you clear your head. In fact, rest should be the first thing you plan for the day.

There is nothing more demotivating and diminishing to productivity than tiredness. Especially if your work involves creativity, rest is essential to stay positive and full of ideas.

Donald Wong

The most productive entrepreneurs use SIMPLE, FAST TOOLS everyday to CONSISTENTLY perform at their best. Our highest growth clients use at least one of the following each day, even on family days: a 10 minute cold shower, 15 minutes of positive meditation, 10 minutes of future forecasting, and proper hydration. Most importantly, surround yourself with those who push you towards your dreams.

Josh Paulsen

Take 15 minutes to change your physiology. Go for a walk, or run while listing to your favorite music. Spend time meditating, or just taking deep breaths. Even doing a few jumping jacks or push-ups can create enough energy and motivation to help you get going.

Be clear about your goal and top priorities.


Meike Hohenwarter, MSc

Usually, when people do not feel motivated, they are [missing] the big picture. They are stuck in details, which would be clear once they have completely clarified what the goal and outcome of the work should be. But this must not only be done mentally; [it] has to include a clear picture and feel of the outcome.

Karen Oliver

Whenever you feel like you’ve lost sight of why you’re doing something, take a piece of paper, draw a 2×2 grid, and write across the top ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages,’ and down the side, write ‘doing it’ and ‘not doing it.’ Then, list the pros and con of completing your task and also of not completing it. This exercise will either keep you on track, or make you rethink your priorities.

Write down your goal and display it where you can see it. 


Tanmoy Das

One way to keep you at your goal is to write it down in BIG LETTERS and hang it right in front of your work desk, where you can see it every time you lift your head from the PC. It reminds me of what I need to achieve and keeps me motivated to stay productive!

Start small and “warm up” first.


Oskars Dombrava

My best productivity tip would be just set a timer for one minute and start doing the task. Similar, like for a workout, you need warm up for work. It will get you in [shape], and after a minute, you probably will want to finish that task, which you started.

Be active, show appreciation, and don’t compare yourself to others.


Mr. Mohamed Dafallah

So here [are] three tips that are really important for me.

Number 1: Be active. People love talking but they don’t understand that the only thing that will take you a step further to your goal is [if] you do something, anything, even if it is small.

Number 2: Appreciate the people around you, especially those who help you. You cannot accomplish anything on your own, no one ( or very, very rarely) can anyone say they have been successful on their own. The people who believe in you are the most important to you and you should give them your respect and time.

Number 3: Don’t look at a successful person and say that you can never be him/her because he/she has a Bugatti or something you don’t have. You must understand that a successful person’s next step is not your next step, and so, focus on yours and be CONSISTENT at it.

Do/sell what you love.


Samantha Lynn

LOVE YOUR PRODUCT. Don’t stock your shop with something solely because it makes money; you’ll burn out fast. It’s easier to answer the same questions, over and over, when you love talking about your product. It’s easier to wake up early and stay up late when you love your job.

Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.


Margaret

My motivation comes from the people around me, so when I notice myself losing productivity, I increase interaction with my customers and friends in the community, and that always gives me new ideas and a renewed fire to work with.

Below, you’ll find the infographic I mentioned earlier, which you can view, download, or pin

Here's how you can stay productive and motivated even when your energy levels run low.

I hope you found these motivation and productivity tips useful! Please leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and if you have any other advice to share. 

Here's how you can stay productive and motivated even when your energy levels run low.

31 days of social media content ideas (grab this free calendar!)

Wouldn't you love a social media content calendar letting you know what to post each day?

Social media can be useful in growing your business – when done right.

When not done right, it can turn into an overwhelming time-suck.

So to help you overcome your social media stress, I created a 31-day calendar with a new content suggestion for each day. Now you don’t need to think as much about what to post. Just use the calendar as your guide, and use and re-use it throughout the entire year. Just rinse and repeat.

You’ll find the calendar below, which you can download or pin on Pinterest along with some additional social media tips:

This social media calendar gives you 31 days of awesome content ideas. Just plug them in and go!

How To Crush It With Social Media

Step 1 – Plan your content in advance. Write what you want to say in a Google doc or spreadsheet and then just copy and paste when you’re ready to post.

Step 2 – Infuse your personality and voice into your posts. This makes your content sound more authentic and helps to build stronger relationships with your audience.

Step 3 – Schedule your posts using a tool like PostDynamo or BufferApp. This is a huge time-savor.

Step 4 – At the end of each calendar cycle, review your stats and analytics to see what type of content has been working the best and what needs improvement.

Step 5 – Make any necessary changes and start planning next month’s social media content!

I hope this calendar makes your social media efforts less stressful and more efficient. If you try it for the next 31 days, let me know the results you get! 

Wouldn't you love a social media content calendar letting you know what to post each day?