Practical Productivity Hacks
We are living jam-packed lives. A perpetual balancing act between everything we MUST get done and everything we WANT to get done. In this article, we have compiled some practical hacks to check more off your “to do” list, turbo-charge your productivity and maintain your sanity. We’ve divided our hacks into mind, body and spirit. Being a chiropractor, we thought you would appreciate the gesture!
PRACTICAL PRODUCTIVITY HACKS FOR YOUR MIND
Productivity hacks for the mind involve strategic thinking. A logical framework that you can easily wrap your mind around. New ways to think about productivity, if you will.
Divide Your Tasks Into Urgent/Important Quadrants
An internet search shows that this concept is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix (yes, for President Eisenhower). Draw a box on a piece of paper and divide it into four equal squares. Like the house windows you used to draw when you were a kid. Label it “Urgent” along the left and “Important” along the bottom. Place all the items in your to do list in its applicable quadrant. Here’s a guide:
- Urgent/Important: Tasks that should be done right away because they represent items like emergencies, problems, last-minute preparations or deadline-related projects. A note on this one…you SHOULD NOT LIVE IN THIS QUADRANT…it’s too stressful! Planning should put you most often in the next quadrant, where you should be spending most of your time.
- Not Urgent/Import: Because of the lack of urgency, these activities can be planned, and because of their importance, you should always find time for them. This is the quadrant in which you should be living the majority of your time. These are tasks related to planning, prevention, relationships, relaxation and exercise.
- Urgent/Not Important: These tasks could possibly be delegated. Activities in this quadrant include some meetings, some emails/calls, requests from others and errands.
- Not Urgent/Not Important: You should try to eliminate these activities, which include things like: mindless TV watching, some emails/calls, junk mail and busy work.
Name Your Top Three
There is a story (attributed to several people) that draws an analogy between your priorities and the arrangement of rocks, pebbles and sand in a container. Here is the story: A speaker asked a volunteer to put a few big rocks, pebbles and sand in a fishbowl. Trial and error showed that if you put the big rocks in first, followed by the pebbles then the sand, you can fit a lot more in the aquarium. Same thing goes for your To Do list. Your big rocks, the items most important to you, should be scheduled first in your scheduler or planner, to make sure they fit. If you do too many insignificant tasks first (the pebbles and the sand) then there’s no way to fit in the important tasks (the rocks). Selecting your Top Three tasks per day is one way to prioritize so that your schedule has “room” for your most important tasks.
Eat the Frog First
This refers to putting tasks that you really don’t want to do, but have to do, first on your list. It’s usually the important stuff that you tend to put off. For example, if you really don’t get fired up about doing the marketing for your practice but know it must be done in order to reach your goals, put it first on your To Do list. Sometimes, all it takes is getting started to get into a good rhythm!
Ignore Social Media
Let’s face it, we spend way too much time on social media. It is extremely easy to get sucked in to your Facebook feed, indulge in a marathon Instagram scroll or succumb to an endless selection of Tweets. Often, we do this during idle time when our phones are nearby or in the guise of posting to our own social media accounts for business. Do yourself a favor and uninstall these applications from your smart phone. Schedule specific blocks of time in your schedule for when you will update your business accounts. Better yet, delegate social media to a team member!
Use Time Blocks
Plan out your day by assigning blocks of time for each task on your list. Be realistic! Put in your top three priorities first. If you’ve divided one large project into several pieces, assign each piece a time block. Do this time block planning either at the beginning of each day, or before the end of the workday.
Answer Emails Sparingly
Again, this is practical because we tend to get lost in email and spend way too much time crafting responses. Email also tends to dictate our schedules to us instead of the other way around . Many productivity experts agree that you must be strategic about your email correspondence. There are probably whole books about the art of managing email, but for our purposes here just be aware of that gigantic time sink and try a few tactics to get it under control. Some tactics are:
- Close your email program while you’re busy doing something else. (The “ding” or pop-ups are distracting and tempting.)
- Answer emails only a certain number of times per day. (Some gurus say just answer them once, but that might not be an option for your business. Set some boundaries and stick to them!)
- Block out time to check email on your schedule and try not to check it first thing in the morning (this makes it more likely you’ll start your day taking care of other people’s problems instead of moving forward with your plans).
Don’t Re-Invent the Wheel
We wrote an entire article about how to repurpose your marketing content. Creating one aspect of your marketing (like writing a description of a new service) and using it in several ways (like on your next email newsletter, website and ChiroTV Network channel) is an excellent way to boost your productivity.
PRODUCTIVITY HACKS FOR YOUR BODY
These tips have to do with what your body can physically handle. Of course, this is highly personal!
Know Your Biorhythms
People have more or different energy levels at different times of the day. If you are an early bird and get your best ideas after your morning meditation, then maybe that is when you should do your most important and creative work. If you tend to slow down in the afternoons and not have as much creative brain power, you may find that to be a good time to listen to a tutorial. Everyone is different; that’s why one guru’s productivity hack may not be for everyone. You need to experiment with what works for you!
Don’t forget to schedule breaks during your day. This is a little counterintuitive, but scheduling breaks may give you the mental and physical energy to get more done than trying to power through the entire day without one. Again, do what’s best for you. You can also use your breaks as little rewards for getting your important tasks done during previous work sessions.
PRODUCTIVITY HACKS FOR YOUR SPIRIT
Often the last things on our To Do lists involve taking care of our spirit. This is bad for productivity! Your productivity will be enhanced if you plan time for self-care and activities that feed your soul.
Don’t Forget to Plan for Fun, Family and Friends
If you’re a self-described workaholic, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Even though you love what you do, you need to plan for fun on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Nothing puts a pause on your productivity like burnout! Use your scheduler and the time block method above to reserve time for family, friends and activities that make your heart sing, not just work-related tasks.
Plan Time “To Do” Nothing
While our culture is largely based on the appearance of working hard, there is nothing that renews the spirit and allows inspired thoughts to come through like scheduling time to do nothing. If you schedule it in your planner along with all your other To Dos, you will not feel guilty about it; give it a try!
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