21 Productivity Hacks & Tips to Crush your to-do List

productivity hacks

Productivity is that one of the two words that millennials are obsessed with. The other word is Hustle. And it’s so ironic. Because these two are essentially opposites.

We have romanticised both these words so much and we are always in a struggle to be more productive and efficient with our time but yet we are always stuck in a constant hustle. The work never seems to have an end. Our office work extends into our family time. And as a result our generation struggles to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

But what if I told you that you can improve your productivity by 200 %

Does that sound like something you’d be interested in?

Now, a disclaimer first, the figure 200% just a figure. But, by using some of the hacks that I am sharing, you will be able to make the most of your time.

I am constantly looking for different productivity tools and hacks that I can use, simply because what works today might not work tomorrow. And what works for someone might not work for you. It is one of those topics that is so difficult to teach because there are no right or wrong things. But over time I have learned a few hacks that works for me all the time and I am hoping you will also find some of these useful. If you are looking for ways in which a Bullet Journal can help you be more productive, these are the spreads that I highly recommend. However, These are general hacks to be more productive throughout the day:

1. Create Goals:

Okay I cannot stress this enough. This is probably the most important hack if you want to be more productive.

You need to know what you are working towards and in order to be more productive and work towards achieving them you need SMART goals. SMART GOALS are Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. You must define what your yearly/monthly/weekly goals are. And what’s even more important is that these should be quantifiable goals, goals that you CAN MEASURE.

It is often said, what gets measured gets managed. So make sure you are setting your goals right. Read this post on how to set goals for yourself and how to actually achieve them. Because setting your goals is just one thing, actually achieving those goals is another.

2. Create Rewards for your Goals:

What’s better motivation to work towards your goals than rewards right? No matter what the size of the goal is, every win deserves a reward. So often when we achieve a Goal we instantly start focussing on what’s next? Instead take your time to celebrate that win and rewards yourself for getting there. Just make sure you scale the size of reward to your Goals.

For smaller goals, treat yourself to a movie night or at home self care day. For bigger Goals like getting a project done, treat yourself to something bigger like a vacation or a weekend getaway.

3. Use a Bullet Journal or Planner:

Planners and Bullet Journals are number one productivity tools. It just makes it so easy to organise everything in one place. I used agendas for years until I discovered Bullet Journals. And not I swear by it. If you want to give it a try but are overwhelmed by the number of spreads there are, check out this post where I share Minimal Bujo spreads that are super simple to do.

And if you have no clue how Bullet Journals work, Check out this super simple Beginner’s guide to Bullet Journalling.

If you are interested in the productivity spreads that I do in my BUJO, check out this post where I share my 5 spreads that I use to boost my productivity. These are great for when you are trying to get back into a productive routine after a break or in general too.

This is the bullet journal I use & I swear by these Sakura micron Pens.

4. To-do List & Prioritising:

To-do lists are everyone’s favourite tool to be more productive but it is always a good idea to prioritise your to-do list. As humans we have a tendency to do the easier tasks first and we leave all the big more time consuming tasks for later, which then causes stress.

So it is always advisable to prioritise. When you are starting your work day list top 3 things that you need to get done on that day. And when you tick off these three big things you will automatically feel like you are more in control and that you can do it.

It is also a great idea to keep referring back to your to-do list every now and then between different tasks. It helps you plan your days better and do things that are more demanding and urgent first.

5. Turn Off Notifications

The number one reason we feel pressured for time is that we waste too much of it. Mostly on things that are holding us back, like scrolling through social media, binge watching netflix etc. And with social media being such a huge part of our lives, we spend hours on our phones.

So, step one to being more productive is to turn off notifications for all the apps. This is great because now there will be no notifications popping up every few minutes. And you will not feel the need to keep checking your phone every 5 minutes. We all know how that goes.

6. Get Rid of distractions:

If you feel like you have the self control of an 8 year old and are still checking your phone in hopes of seeing any notifications, then it’s best to get rid of distractions.

No, I am not asking you to throw away your phone. What a disaster would that be in this time and age, right?

I am simply suggesting you leave your phone in a different room whenever possible. Or keep your phone on a silent mode with the screen facing downwards.

7. Avoid Multi-tasking:

Again an overtly romanticised concept that I find not effective at all. I have noticed that when I am trying to multi-task, I usually take longer to get the project done.

It’s always better to focus on one task at a time, at least for me.

You know those people who can read a book while listening to songs? Well, I am not one of those people. I can’t even drink my tea while reading because I simply get too engrossed in the book and forget about the tea.

But of course there are some things and some situations when you will find it easy. Like driving and listening to a podcast. or working out and listening to music or an audio book. I do that all the time.

It’s more about being aware what works for you and what doesn’t.

8. Time Blocking:

This is probably one of my favourite hacks. I put a time block on mundane things like grocery shopping and tidying the house. This way I am making sure that I am not wasting my precious time in doing these tasks. This is pretty much like school where you learn a subject for 40 minutes and the minute the bell rings, you close the books for that subject.

This allows you to work on various projects in a day and this way you can make sure you are not focussing all your time on just one thing. That causes unnecessary stress later on.

I often set a timer for myself when I stop cleaning and whatever is left, I get it done in my 15 minute breaks between work. Read all about the 15 Minute tasks spread in this post to understand how they work.

9. Batch Similar Work:

You know why most of the supply chains in manufacturing industry are so effective? Because they batch similar work together.

And this might work great for you if:

  1. You are working on multiple projects at a given time
  2. You are a content creator and you do a lot of tasks in a given day.

Let me explain.

As bloggers, the work that goes behind every blogpost is insane. It’s not just typing it out and hitting publish, right? What I like doing is write drafts for a few posts in a given day. Doing this together works great because when I am writing in am kind of in that writing zone. And I feel like I can create better content more quickly.

Then I edit the details and check SEO etc for all posts in one go. And then I will batch create graphics for all those blogposts in one sitting. So instead for focussing on just one blogpost at a time and publishing and marketing it, I work on multiple. It’s almost like I have my own supply chain going on.

10. Themed Days

Because we are already talking about batching content, how can we not talk about themed days.

Themed days are days with a particular theme. like when it comes to blogging, I have days that are dedicated to mostly writing. Of course I do some other stuff too but about 80% of my time will be focussed on writing. And then one day I will be creating graphics and scheduling them on Pinterest. This is the Pinning Strategy that I follow.

But other than blogging, themed days work great in general too. Like for us, Friday is always laundry day. Mostly because we like not having chores to do on the weekend. And themed days are great because then you can focus your time and energy on getting a particular thing done.

11. Get Enough Sleep:

Getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep is really important if you want to stay on top of your productivity game. I have never been a fan of pulling all nighters just to get a project done. I think I work best when I have had a good sleep, like most humans. But this goes without saying that over sleeping isn’t that great fro being productive either.

When I sleep for more than 9 hours (rarely happens) I feel even more lazy and lethargic throughout the day. The best is to sleep for 7-8 hours.

Bonus Tip: If you want to improve the quality of your sleep, try going to bed around the same time everyday. Our body loves routines. Force yourself to go to bed around the same time everyday and I promise you’ll thank me later. And in case you want to know how to sleep better, I do have a full article too on all the things that I do to improve my sleep quality.

12. Create A Morning Routine:

As I mentioned in Pt11 our body loves routines. These do not have to be the elaborate morning and night time routines that you see on youtube. It needs to be simple and not very time consuming so that you can do it everyday.

I like having a morning routine because the morning routine helps me kick into my productive self and makes me feel ready for the day ahead. So instead of being indecisive in the morning about what to do next, it’s like putting yourself in an auto mode. And no, you don’t need to wake up at 5 A.M.

How to make a Morning Routine?

All you need to do is list down all the things that you want to accomplish in the morning before you start your work day. When you have listed all the things, try arranging them in a sequence that is logical and that makes sense for you. Also take into account the time it would take you to get all these things done. You do not want a morning routine that is 4 hours long. Try keeping it simple and use it a checklist every morning until the time it becomes a habit.

What tasks should you include in your Morning Routine?

I am letting you in on a secret. There are some tasks that have been proven to be super effective for morning routines. The most talked about Morning routine is Miracle Morning, which lists a set of six different tasks to do each morning for a productive morning and a healthy mindset.

Now, everyone’s morning routines are different but here are some things you can include in your morning routine that have been proven to make your mornings and the day more productive:

  • Make your bed
  • Exercise/ Yoga/ Walk
  • Play with your dog
  • Meditate
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Read
  • To-do list for the day
  • Hydrate yourself
  • Declutter your workspace
  • Tidy an area of your home/room
  • Breakfast
  • Shower and get ready
  • Skin care

13. Create a Night Routine:

And the night routine is great as it helps you wind down after a long day of work. it helps you refocus on things that are important. My night routine allows me to destress before going to bed and also improves sleep quality.

The key is to begin your Night routine at the same time every night, even on the weekends. It will allow you to go to bed around the same time every night and will effect your Sleep quality. And we all know getting quality sleep makes you super productive throughout the day.

How to make a Night Routine?

Again, making a Night routine is pretty simple. Just list down all the things that you want to do before going to bed, like you did for morning routine. And then arrange them in an order. Take into account how much time each task will take. now think about when you want to go to bed to get quality 8 hours of sleep and start your night routine accordingly. Make sure to avoid screens (Phone/laptop/tv) at least 1.5 hours before you go to bed.

What tasks should you include in your Night Routine?

Ideally, for night routine you should focus on tasks that help you destress. Tasks that help you relax and go to bed with a calm mind. Avoid any high intensity workouts as it affects your sleep. Some things you could include in your night routine are:

  • Read
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Drink a warm Tea
  • Skincare
  • Plan out your next day
  • Shower
  • Take out clothes for next day
  • Breakfast prep
  • Stretch
  • Spritz a few drops of an essential oil on your pillow/ turn on an oil diffuser (make sure it has a timer)

14. Focus on your Health

In a healthy body resides a healthy mind. It’s true. We all have so much work pressure these days that often we neglect our health. We all know how a healthy body is important to be more productive and to stay on top of your task list and yet we ignore it.

Have you ever tried working or focussing on a task when you have the cold or when you have a fever? It tanks your productivity right? And even when you are not sick, not being in a good health in general affects your productivity in more ways than you think.

What I am trying to say is that the reason why you are feeling lazy and not your productive self might be the pizza that you had last night! We always think about food in terms of body weight because we have been taught so since childhood, but the affects go way beyond that. So when you hydrate yourself, feed your body good healthy food, it shows in your productivity levels.

Avoiding Soda and other sugary drink or treats is also really important because when you consume sugar you energy level spikes and then a few hours later it dips again. And you experience extreme highs and lows in your energy levels, which reflect is your productivity too.

And if you are someone who fails to make their health a priority and always have excuses, try including “workout” in your morning routine. It helps when you get it done in the morning. We also meal prep as a part of our Weekly Reset, so that we are eating healthy throughout the week.

15. Do a Weekly Reset:

I cannot stress this one enough. A weekly reset helps me get my shit together on the weekend so that I am prepared for the coming week. Think of it as a prep to make your coming week so much better. A weekly reset is a set of tasks that I do every weekend to get ready for the next week. A major part of our weekly reset is Meal planning and Meal prep because it allows us to eat healthy throughout the week.

What tasks should you include in a Weekly Reset?

If you are thinking about what activities should be a part of your weekly reset, here are some tasks you should consider:

  • Meal planning & Grocery shopping
  • Meal Prepping
  • Laundry
  • Plan out the next week
  • Read
  • Fold laundry
  • Plan our outfits for the work week
  • Self care/Spa Day
  • Spend quality time with your loved ones
  • Tidy your house

Here is everything I do for my weekly Reset.

16. A Dedicated Office Space & A Change every now n then:

For those of you who work from home, it is super important to have a dedicated work space. Working for yourself, on your own time is great but it is so easy to start working from your bed in your Pjs. I am guilty of this one too, but I make sure that I never do this more than once a week.

Having a dedicated office space triggers your brain into a productive work mode more quickly than you realise. Try creating a space where you feel motivated and inspired to work and make sure that you do not keep this desk or work space in your bedroom. Just physically walking to another room(That is your home office) in the morning will highly impact your productivity levels.

I also find changing up the environment super effective for productivity. We all have days when no matter what we can’t seem to focus on the task at hand. If you are having such a day, it’s a great idea to change the environment. Maybe try working from a coffee shop or a library. But make sure that that place doesn’t have a lot of distractions. But you don’t always have to go to a coffee shop too. On days when I am feeling unproductive, I often change my desk decor and rearrange a few things on my desk. I find that just cleaning the desk and decluttering also does that trick sometimes.

17. Change out of your PJs:

This is again for people who work from home. Changing out of your PJs is super important if you want to be more productive throughout the day. Working from home is great and it’s great that you don’t have to wear formal clothes everyday, but working from your Pjs is a big No-no. Just change out of your Pajamas. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, a simple basic t-shirt and jeans does the trick for me.

I have also heard that some people have dedicated work uniforms. I haven’t tried this myself yet, but hey, it sounds like it could work.

18. Brain Dump:

Do you ever sit at your desk and begin working on a project and suddenly remember that you need to make an important appointment? Don’t do it right away.

Keep a place where you can write all the random thoughts that come to your mind when you are trying to focus on a task at hand.

This will allow you to keep your focus on the project that you are working on but you will be convinced that you will not forget about anything important.

When you are done working take a look at the brain dump to see if there is something that needs your attention right away. If not, schedule it in the coming days, if needed.

19. Take Breaks:

Taking breaks is super important if you want to be productive. Maybe get up from your desk every 60 minutes and do some stretches. And when you don’t have the time to stretch just a simple 30 second break from the screen works too. I take 15 minute breaks between projects and I have a spread in my Bullet journal where I list all the things I can get done in 15 minutes, which are essentially not work. It is a great way to squeeze in self care in your busy hectic days.

And on days when you don’t feel like doing anything in the breaks, try going for a small walk. I love playing with my dog too. It is a great stress buster and re-energises me.

20. Have a Set time to Stop Working:

This is super important if you are a freelancer or work from home but also important for people who work in corporate jobs but bring their work home. Set a time for yourself when you will stop working. I know hustle is our generation’s favourite word but not having a time set is harmful for you in the long run. By setting a time when you will stop working you will see that you are doing so much better in your professional as well as personal life. It helps you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

21: The two Minute rule:

Whenever a work comes up, if there is something that can be done in two minutes, don’t procrastinate the task and do it right away. Remember the brain dump that we talked about in point 18? Whenever you finish a task, scan your list to see if there are some things that can be ticked off right away and do it.

There is no point in keeping them on your to-do list if it is just going to take 2 minutes. Instead tick it off and have less things on your to do list.

There you have it. 21 hacks and tips to be more productive throughout the day. DOn’t let these overwhelm you. Start by including one or two that you like best and go from there. What are your favourite productivity tips? Let me know in the comments below, I am a nerd like that! 🙂

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