5 Productivity Hacks to Optimize Your To-Do List

productivity hacks

Productivity is more than a buzzword. It’s a crucial ingredient to accomplish all the tasks we need to cross off our lists in a 24-hour period. We know the value of a healthy productive mindset. Case in point: just take a listen to one of our recent podcast episodes in which our founder Alexis Carthan refers to herself as a “productivity nerd!” But as essential as this quality is, it can be tough to harness.     

In a survey of almost 2,000 professionals, 79% revealed they are only productive for about three hours out of an entire workday. So how do they spend those other five hours? Social media is the main source of distraction, followed by activities such as texting, snacking, reading articles and searching for new jobs. It’s especially hard to focus in this current landscape with our world engulfed in so much stress and uncertainty. 

How can we push ourselves to care about productivity when each day feels rampant with another wave of human suffering? This is such a valid question—and one that we at The SunDaze Journey have been pondering too. But the reality is, we cannot always shirk our obligations and commitments in seasons of high tension or low motivation. 

Most of the time, we just have to press forward which means being accountable to our own productivity markers. So if you (like us) are floundering in this area, allow us to introduce you to some unique but effective hacks for a more productive workday:          

Be Intentional about the Self-Talk that You Start Each Day With. 

The most impactful conversation you’ll be part of at any given moment is the one with yourself. Inner dialogue can alter the course of a whole day’s performance, in fact. This is why it’s vital to monitor the implications and ramifications of your own self-talk. Research indicates that positive inner dialogue can boost focus, energy, motivation, confidence and self-efficacy which optimizes your work ethic overall. So start each morning with affirmations such as, “I am ready to tackle this project,” or “I have the skills I need to be successful today.”     

Do Not Allow that Email Inbox to Derail More Important Tasks. 

If a notification ping in that email inbox of yours is all it takes to interrupt workflow and swerve your attention span off the rails, well…you’re not alone. According to Harvard Business Review, most employees check their inboxes every 37 minutes or 15 times a day. But whenever you pause a task to read or answer an email, it can take about 23 minutes to regain productivity. So if emails often distract you from higher priority tasks, use a tool such as Inbox Pause to regulate when you can receive emails and when you are unavailable.           

Handwrite Your Goals and Put Them on Display.

What do you want to achieve today? And which steps will you take to ensure this happens? Once you have an answer to those questions, be sure to write it down! As psychologist Dr. Gail Matthews, points out, you are 42% more likely to reach a goal when it’s written in clear ink. This action forces you to be definitive and precise about what is required, so you can strategize on how to accomplish it. Then after you write this goal down, tape it to your desk surface, computer screen or bulletin board, as a consistent visual reminder for the day.     

Carve out Time in Your Schedule for an Unconventional Break.

It’s been well-established that allowing yourself breaks in the day can increase alertness and concentration, but some types of breaks are more effective than others. As unconventional as this might sound, the best medicine to enhance productivity is a “laughter break,” research has found. So choose enjoyable activities on your break that produce feelings of humor and release pleasure chemicals in the brain. Laugher will restore energy depletion and emotional regulation which makes it easier to handle those rigorous work demands.  

Practice Thinking about Stress as an Ally Instead of an Enemy.

Mental reframing is a powerful skill. When you learn how to make this paradigm shift, it can help you overcome feeling immobilized or incapable, two major causes of procrastination. This tool is especially useful when it comes to stress. How your mind frames stress will determine how you perform under it. Stress just equals change, which “we have the opportunity to categorize as positive or negative,” explains Fast Company. So train yourself to view stress as a stimulus for growth—this activates, rather than debilitates, your performance.  

Has productivity been on the decline for you these past several months? Have you tried some of these hacks, and if so, were the results successful? Or are you (like Alexis) also a productivity nerd with some hacks of your own to share? We would love to hear your thoughts, so let’s continue this discussion in the comment section below. And tune into our companion episode on The SunDaze Journey Podcast where we break down the science of a productive mindset!

About Author

Mary-Elizabeth Meagher is a freelance writer, social media marketer, travel enthusiast, musical theatre nerd and self-described bohemian. She lives and seeks adventure in the Arizona desert, and she also blogs over at Health Be a Hippie—her personal contribution to making the internet a more authentic, vulnerable and empowering place.

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