There are only 24 hours in a day. Subtract the hours you’re sleeping, and the time you have to get things done is even less. Between running to work and finishing up errands, taking care of yourself and family members, preparing meals, exercising, relaxing etc. productivity can prove to be a challenge, and even more so if you’re busy, or just struggling to find a balance between work and play.
Regardless of your schedule or time management skills, there is a way to make your days more efficient, without breaking from your normal routine. Here are 8 productivity hacks to get the most out of your 24 hours.
1. Tap into your early or late hours.
Read any article on being productive and most likely you’ll see a point arguing for the benefits of waking up early. A morning person myself, I can’t help but agree, as the early hours are when I get the most writing done; however, what these articles don’t understand is that each person is different.
For someone who doesn’t function well in the morning, waking up an hour earlier won’t lead to productivity, even if you really push yourself. Instead of forcing your body to break a routine (which can be good, don’t get me wrong! But not always necessary!) try to tap into your body’s natural sleep patterns and rhythms. If you find yourself having a burst of energy at nights, listen to that. Perhaps stay up an hour later at night, and sleep in a little bit more in the mornings. Find what works for you and adapt accordingly, using that extra hour in the morning or night to prepare you for the day, prep meals, work out, finish up work tasks, etc.
2. Try not to hit the snooze.
This is something that isn’t always easy, especially if you struggle with getting up in the mornings, but hitting the snooze button can have a negative impact on your sleep cycle, among other harmful effects to your body’s rhythm.
When you hit the snooze, you can confuse your body on sleep vs. wake, leaving you groggy, disoriented, or exhausted to start the day—definitely not productive! When your alarm goes off the first time, you’re leaving your REM cycle, which means that even if you feel tired, you’re more able to function. So if you can, try not to hit the snooze button!
To help, try placing your alarm on a shelf across the room, forcing yourself to walk over and turn it off. This will get your body moving, and help resist the urge to roll over and fall back asleep.
3. Take advantage of your commutes.
Being productive isn’t just about getting sleep—it’s about taking advantage of the time you have and maximizing your free moments with things that will build you. If you commute to work, use this ‘wasted’ time as an opportunity. Download podcasts, recorded books, or motivational speeches and listen to them as you sit in traffic. Use the return drive to destress to calming (or uplifting!) music, or to talk to a long distance loved one on the phone. This will make your commute go faster, feel more productive, and leave you with the remaining hours for other, useful activities.
4. Use an interval system for to do lists or tasks.
One of the easiest ways to organize your time is to allot certain intervals for certain tasks. Say you have a bunch of things to get done by a certain time, block out every half hour, and switch up activities when that alarm goes off. This will help you prioritize, keep track of how long you’ve spent working on something, and get things done accordingly.
Use this system for fun things, too. If you keep track of how long you’re surfing the net or watching TV, for example, you can monitor and change up activities to keep yourself from wasting time you don’t have on things that aren’t as important or productive.
5. Schedule time for ‘chores.’
The mundane, everyday cleaning, prepping, dish washing, etc. isn’t fun. But it can and will get done if you set aside specific time for it. Even if it seems silly, one simple productivity hack is to create a scheduled time for chores (even write it on the calendar)! This will make sure you’re committed and not pushing things off.
6. Unsubscribe to emails you don’t need.
This is one of the best productivity hacks I’ve done and would highly recommend to anyone! Clearing out your inbox can be everything from liberating to stress-relieving, and this is easily done when you unsubscribe to things you don’t need. Go through (when you have a free minute) and get your name off any of the lists you no longer care about/shop at etc. This will prevent your inbox from getting cluttered and keep you focused on what’s important, rather than distracted by silly sales.
7. Use your lunch breaks to your advantage.
If you have a lunch break, see if you can’t take advantage of it! Can you snack throughout the day and instead opt for a small workout during that hour? Can you do all the calling and personal scheduling during that time? Can you zen out with a coloring book or something you’re passionate about? Can you de-stress and relax by putting away your phone?
8. Use your idle time on Friday nights.
Fridays, for most of us are the days we can take a deep breath and exhale the stress from the week. Do this. But also consider using your Friday to your advantage, too. When’s the last time you did a load of laundry on a Friday? Cleaned? Jumped on your tasks for Monday? Though this may sound like the worst idea ever, but a simple productivity hack is when you use Friday to help you get ahead, you can spend the rest of the weekend relaxing—no obligations, chores, to-do lists.
Don’t let everything pile up to Sunday night, leaving you stressed and frustrated. Instead, jump on the few hours between work and evening activities on Friday so that you’ll feel refreshed for the rest of the weekend!
Featured Image Credit: Cathryn Lavery