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20 Productivity Hacks for Professionals

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Being a professional in today’s world means that there are a lot of demands on your time. Tapping into our everyday best—our most productive selves—can become exhausting. What if you were able to gain a minute or two? It would take away some of the stress you may be feeling about those looming deadlines or messy projects.

Productivity hacks collect valuable minutes throughout the day, so you can have them on reserve when emergencies arise. Then, you can perform at your best.

Research-based and simple to use, our 20 productivity hacks below will help you get a little more organized, learn a little more about technology, add some automation to your day, and give you the time to do more with less.

Paper versus Digital Calendar. Paper works best in several ways: memory retention, central location for dates and notes, and goal planning. Get a planner that you’re comfortable with and use it.

Take Control of Your Calendar. Restrict editing permissions to only a couple people and block off the times when you feel most productive.

End-of-Day: Transfer Print Calendar to Digital. When you take the time to reflect upon your day, you’ll also know what’s in store for you tomorrow. Better preparation means fewer surprises.

Manage Your Email. Auto-response, signatures, and notifications. Having up-to-date auto-responses and signatures with important information can quickly point clients in the right direction. Notifications can break your concentration, so remember to turn them on and off when necessary. It may take a few seconds, but it could save you minutes of valuable time.

Most Important Things First. Organize your priorities. This eliminates the potential for procrastination.

Schedule Deep Work. Think about the time of day that you’re most productive. Cultivate that time by blocking it on your calendar, taking only emergency calls and emails. Make it a habit.

Less Time on Social Media. For some, it’s a must. But lingering can take away more time than you realize. This list of apps can help you stay away from them.

Make Fewer Decisions. When you take a look at your day, some decisions were important, while most weren’t. Try to eliminate the situations that call for more decisions. If you must, then don’t waste more than five seconds debating about them.

Eliminate Menial Tasks. Sometimes we like to do menial tasks, just because it’s easy and feels comfortable doing them. These are a waste of time. Have employees and interns do them.

Increase Your Typing Speed. Slow typers range around 45 words per minute. Faster typing can decrease time spent on email and writing memos. (Click here to take the typing speed test.) These apps might help you type faster.

Reduce Meeting Times. Scope creep in any meeting will ruin your day. Stay on agenda. Or, eliminate unnecessary meetings. If it’s a meeting in an off-site location, see if you can call in to reduce time spent on travel.

Time It. Keeping yourself on time requires you to know how long you’ve been on task. Set a timer on your phone or watch to prevent you from spending too much time on any single task.

Accountability Alarm. You receive countless notifications throughout the day. But setting an accountability alarm will help you reflect on your day. You can send out updates to stakeholders and enter notes and dates into your digital calendar.

Stick to One Task. It’s a fact, and you probably already know it, multitasking is not possible. It’s called task switching and is far less productive than staying on task until completion.

Use Templates. Make them for email, formal letters, informal letters, or other types of correspondence. These will definitely add a couple minutes to your time bank.

Plan First. Before taking on any major task, you need to plan first. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” That’s good advice.

Say “No” More Often. You have permission to say “No” more often to things that don’t matter. Your job is to focus on exactly what needs to get done.

Perfection Doesn’t Exist. Doing something right is different than perfect. Perfect requires too much time and attention, especially when just right will do.

Unsubscribe and Unfollow. Too many emails clog our inbox and there are things we just don’t need to see in our feed. Get rid of them to reduce mental clutter.

Multiple Computer Screens. Having multiple computer screens open with documents to review saves time from switching back and forth. It also keeps information fresh in your mind. This makes task switching easier.

Making yourself more productive means that everyone around you will be more productive. So, think about a friend or coworker of yours that could use this list and pass it on.