We’re all looking for new tips, tricks and hacks to increase our productivity and reduce stress. During the last few years of launching my company, I’ve learned that the best productivity hacks are ones that you don’t need to think about. I’m going to take a page from Tim Ferris’ book (pun intended) and try to prescribe you the minimum effective dose for improving your productivity. In fact, you won’t even need to do anything for these tactics to work (outside of the initial setup). If you implement the tips in this guide, I can guarantee you’ll have an incremental increase in productivity.
Throw Out Your Bed Sheets
Literally, throw out your bed sheets. Keep just a comforter and the fitted bed sheet. Why? You’ll spend less time on doing laundry and less time making your bed every morning. (Yes, you should make your bed every day.) If you’re hesitant, just do a test run tonight. In all likelihood, you won’t mind and won’t even notice the difference.
Set Recurring Alarms Every Day (for Waking Up and for Recurring Meetings)
Pick a time you want to wake up every day and stick to it. Set a recurring alarm for that time (you can exclude weekends if you want).
Now, do the same thing for any recurring meeting you have. Why? You’ll focus on work and let your alarm remind you it’s time to go to the next meeting.
Consider setting the alarm five minutes earlier than the meeting so you have time to prep and walk to the meeting.
Set a Recurring “Do Not Disturb” Mode on Your Phone
Don’t let the dozens of apps and services on your phone be in control of your life by constantly distracting you.
“Do Not Disturb Mode” works on both iOS and Android. Open your settings and turn on “Do Not Disturb Mode” from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. While this is turned on, your phone won’t vibrate, ring or cause any other types of distraction.
Once you try this out, consider widening the do not disturb window even more broadly. If you want to be really intense about it, leave your phone in do not disturb mode 100 percent of the time.
Turn Off (Almost) All Notifications on Your Phone and Computer
Most notifications you receive on your phone are not worth a millisecond of your time. Right now, open your phone and computer notification settings, and turn those darn things off.
Most importantly, turn off all notifications for email, including any badge icons. Email is the ultimate productivity killer. Open email once in the morning and, at most, a few times throughout the day. The few notifications you may want to keep are SMS messages and other messaging apps.
This doesn’t stop with a one-time purge either. Any time a new app asks for notification permissions, deny it. You can always turn it on later.
Sign Up for Unroll.me
This is one of my favorites tips on this list. Unroll.me is an email lifesaver. It will drastically declutter your inbox within 24 hours of setting up. This is accomplished by consolidating all your email newsletters into one single email.
Unroll.me will also help you unsubscribe from all those unwanted email lists you’ve accumulated over the years. Make sure to set it up with all your accounts (personal and business). This is the first step in reaching inbox zero. Unroll.me has helped me unsubscribe from 237 newsletters on my personal email account alone!
Automate Your Email
Mixmax will supercharge your email experience. It allows you to schedule emails and can remind you if the recipient hasn’t responded yet. From now on, unless something is completely time critical, send the email for at least 12 hours in the future. This will help stop the ping-ponging of many email exchanges.
Use Toby for Most Visited Tabs
Have the same group of sites you open every day for a certain meeting for event? Group them in a Toby list.
Visualize Your Life
Gyroscope is a central consolidation point for all the data in your life. So what’s the benefit? You can download the Gyroscope Chrome Extension to see your progress on every new tab. Simply seeing this data throughout your day can help motivate you toward better habits. Gyroscope tracks your fitness activity, sleep habits, body fat percentage, online activity and more. Oh, and did I mention it has an incredibly beautiful UI?
These tactics won’t single-handedly change your life; however, they will make an incremental difference. I encourage you to give them a try in 2017. Please let me know your thoughts and experience in the comments.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.
Image Credit: CC by Firesam!