1. Turn of Push Notifications
The best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity was to turn off push notifications on my phone (and my laptop). If you’re an internet/social media junkie like me, being connected can quickly become top priority. However, if your phone tells you every single time someone comments on a facebook thread that you also commented on, pretty soon you’ll spend your whole day on facebook. It can be a pretty vicious cycle. One easy click to facebook or instagram, and next thing you know, 30 minutes has passed by. Do yourself a favor and just check a few times a day. Trust me, you’ll get much more done. To make this change on your phone go into Settings>Notification Center and you’ll be able to customize which apps on your phone can send you push notifications.
2. Make a list and stay on task
(download my daily planner)
When you’re busy (and aren’t we all busy?) there are a million to dos swimming around your head. It’s pretty easy to forget what you need to get done and even easier to be distracted by something that seems more pressing at the moment (like checking facebook, or grabbing a snack). The best way to keep yourself on track is to make a list of all the tasks you need to complete and then prioritize those. When you are finished with one task move quickly onto the next by checking your list instead of trying to recall what you should do next. If you can manage to stay on task and not lose precious minutes/hours in between tasks trying to remember what else needs to be done than your productivity will increase significantly.
3. Have a Weekly Schedule
(download my blank weekly chore schedule)
If every minute is precious to you, then you don’t have time to waste on duplicating tasks needlessly. Schedule one day a week for Errands – mail, bank, grocery store etc. If anyone in your family asks you to run an errand for them, let them know that you can, but you won’t be able to until your errand day. Same thing with cleaning, filing, scanning, laundry etc. If you can assign certain tasks to certain days and really stick to your schedule, then you’ll be much less likely to waste time running to the post office 3 times a week, dropping off dry cleaning more often than necessary, and going to target daily (even though you’d probably like that one).
4. Plan your meals & grocery lists
(download my meal/menu planner)
People say cooking their own meals takes too long. But really what they mean is that planning and executing meals is a big task that is really easy to ignore and going out to eat is easier. It is easier to eat out, but it’s not really saving you any time. If you can sit down for 15 minutes once a week, plan out all your meals and corresponding groceries (keep it simple), and then go to the grocery store and procure all the items, you will save time (and calories, and money). Quick and simple meals can be made in 15-30 minutes if you have a plan and have all the supplies you need. This is much faster than picking a place to eat, driving there, waiting for someone else to spend 15-30 minutes to cook it, eating it, and then driving home.
5. Treat email like a task and utilize rules/folders
Just like push notifications, I try to not let my email dictate my life. I do not check email while I’m working on a task or group of tasks. If I checked each of my emails every single time I got one, I’d get no work done. So instead I check them as part of their own task, and then I do my best to respond to each of them as needed – not leaving things to be done later as much as I can help it – and then I move onto my next task. This way I only spend 15 minutes checking and responding to emails several times a day, instead of spending 5 minutes every 20 minutes. You do the math. I schedule my email task several times during the day, and then only once in the evening.
Another great way to limit your email from sucking away your productivity is to take any sort of “junk” email – promotions from your favorite stores, blog update notifications, news and entertainment site updates etc. and filter those all into a separate folder or folders. Then check those once a day for any can’t-miss items and sales.
Merlin Mann has a great project – Inbox Zero and he talks specifically about “processing” vs. “checking” email – his video is worth listening to/watching if you get tons of emails and want to be more efficient with your email processes.
6. If all else fails, turn off the internet
I’m addicted to the internet as much as the next guy, but when deadlines get serious, I just have to turn the internet off and get down and dirty with photoshop and illustrator. Try it sometime, you’ll be amazed at just how many times you mindlessly open up your browser or email in an attempt to procrastinate what you’re supposed to be doing. Now if I could only turn off the kitchen, I’d get even more done!