7 Productivity Hacks

These productivity techniques will keep you on track and happy.

1. Ignore the News

As I lengthily discussed in an earlier article about productivity, the news can be a tremendous time sink. The idea that we need to keep up to date on the news is largely outdated. Most of what passes as news today is prettily packaged garbage — it’s trivial, depressing, and unreliable. If something major happens, you’ll find out one way or another. Instead, focus your attention on what’s useful and actionable in your life.

2. Exercise in the Morning

It’s been shown that exercising in the morning can greatly improve your productivity. Exercise energizes rather than exhausts you, contrary to what the couch potatoes might tell you. (Not that I’m judging. I can be very spud-tacular myself at times.)

Exercising also promotes good health (quick, alert the press!), and some studies have shown that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours following your workout. Less stress, more efficiency — it’s definitely worth setting that alarm 30 minutes earlier.

3. Drink Water

Most of us don’t drink nearly as much water as we should. Our bodies thrive on water — just like the rest of the world! Drinking more water gives you more energy, keeps you healthy, and gives you an excuse to get up for bathroom breaks so you’re not stuck in a chair all day (which is horrifically unhealthy too, so you’re killing two birds with one water bottle).

 4. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

This one is a pretty standard productivity tip, but it makes the rounds for a reason — when you’re too eager to please, you often end up getting in over your head. Remember, it’s not simply a matter of being agreeable — when you take on too much, all your work suffers. You may end up missing deadlines, and despite good intentions, you could end up disappointing others when you are unable to meet the extraordinary expectations you’ve created for yourself.Sometimes you just have to say no, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

5. Make the Most of Lost Hours

Depending on your commute, you may spend hours driving to and from work in your car. Those hours don’t have to be wasted — consider scheduling calls in the morning that you can take during your drive to work. Subscribe to popular industry podcasts and listen to them on the way home. Stuck waiting at the boarding gate before a flight? Catch up on industry news and articles.Make the most of those previously wasted hours.

6. Down With To-Dos, In With Scheduling

Have you ever had that to-do item that simply wouldn’t disappear? It hovers at the bottom of the list or scratched in the corner, petulantly scowling at you for days, weeks, even months! As more time passes, you feel even less inclined to give it attention.

We’ve all been there — it’s just one of the reasons I’m saying out with the to-do list and in with scheduling. As Eric Barker, a writer for The Week notes in the article “How to Be the Most Productive Person in Your Office — and Still Get Home by 5:30,” scheduling requires you to be realistic about what you can get done. It makes you seriously sit down and consider your available time and what specific slots you can designate to completing certain tasks in a given day.

To-dos are pipe dreams. Scheduling is a game plan. Studies show that even scheduling free time can be rewarding and can result in better quality of time spent — even if that time spent is playing PS4 or reading a Stephen King novel.

7. Equip Yourself With an Arsenal ofProductivity Tools

Staying on task can be tough, but there are tons of great tools available to help you out. Don’t ignore these handy helpers — when someone offers you an ax in the zombie apocalypse, you take it, don’t you?

For tracking your time management, try Toggl or Yast.

Are you a savvy social manager? Go with Hootsuite, which offers a central dashboard for managing all your social media accounts. Also considerBuffer, which makes it super easy to share found articles across various social sites.

For saving articles to read at your leisure, go with Feedly, Pocket, orEvernote. These apps are compatible across devices; you can earmark a blog post on your laptop and read it later on the train via smartphone.

Sick of forgetting passwords (then resetting them, getting an email, and choosing a new password, which you’ll forget again next time)? TryLastPass, which keeps tabs and secures all your various passwords for you. If you use numerous accounts in one day (and who doesn’t?), this one can be a serious timesaver.

There are plenty more tools out there, so always keep your eye out for new productivity pals to help you in your workday.

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