Overworked? Stressed out? We all want to be more productive. Most of the time, being more productive means striking a better work-life balance and knowing how to mitigate the little stressors that eat away at efficiency and psyche.
Being “busy” is not the hallmark of success. Working smarter and having more free time is. With the new year approaching quickly, let’s look at seven things you can start incorporating for a healthier, more productive lifestyle.
Here are the seven easiest—and super effective—productivity hacks you can implement in 2016.
1. Take Notes
Get out of your head and free up some mental capacity. Using brainpower to replay the list of things you have to do when you wake up or even that conversation you had with Sally in accounting isn’t doing any good. Put it on paper and get it off your mind. If paper is too old school for you, try using a voice recording app on your smartphone or try something like Wunderlist.
2. Plan Your Meals, Your Clothes, Whatever
What do President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They’ve been known to wear the same “uniform” to work every day. They do this to free up some of their important decision-making power in order to ponder other important decisions throughout the week.
What about cooking and prepping all your meals for the week on Sunday? When you make certain elements of your week seem less daunting, you free up time to be more productive in other areas.
3. Ditch the Unproductive Meetings
Thirty-one hours per month. That’s the estimated time suck of unproductive meetings. Sure, meetings have their place, but it’s time for something new. Take cues from the agile world, and reimagine your gatherings; for example, a “daily standup” meeting keeps the team standing up while they meet for only about 15 minutes. Or you could try doing planks during your meetings to keep it even briefer, like this company.
4. Stick to a Daily Schedule
I get it. Your inner procrastinator is screaming, “I’ll get around to it,” but you know better. Scheduling your daily tasks from the time you wake up to the end of your day may sound robotic, but it leaves no room for your laziness to win.
Nobody wants to work on their personal finances while the family is vegging out to a movie or eating at everyone’s favorite Mexican restaurant. But if you can stick to a schedule, you’ll get—and keep—your life in order, and actually free up more time in the long run.
5. Make the Right Goals
Along with keeping a schedule, make sure that the daily, weekly and monthly tasks you’re building align with your goals, so you’re not just spinning your wheels. Take a step back and evaluate those goals once a month, starting with your personal life goals and ensuring your professional goals are aligned with that so it helps you accomplish the lifestyle you’re striving for.
6. Skip Facebook
It may be tempting to log in and just “peek” at what your news feed is up to, but that’s a dangerous move when you’re trying to get something done. Before you know it, you’re tangled in a web of cute animal videos and profile stalking, and it’s 30 minutes later before you realize you’ve entered the Facebook time warp.
One study showed that 23% of workers cited Facebook as the destination to “waste time.”
But what if it’s your job to manage social media profiles for a company? Try staying within scheduling apps like HootSuite so you’re not tempted to log in. Better yet, check out the Facebook at Work product, which promises to keep work and personal interactions separate on the network—and hopefully get rid of distractions from screaming goats.
One of the best ways to be more productive is to unplug from the thing that connects you to your professional life. For most of us, that’s technology. Research shows that setting boundaries for technology use and creating time when you’re not connected reduces stress and sets you up for better productivity during the week.
Try incorporating each one of these tips for at least 60 days to make a habit of it, and see how it impacts your productivity and your life.