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Do you wish you were more productive? Join the club.
Four in ten Americans feel like they don’t have enough time to do the things they want.
Improved productivity is the secret to getting more done faster, freeing up your time and boosting your happiness in the process.
But how, exactly, do you unlock more productivity?
If you’re sick of sluggish mornings and never-ending to-do lists, read on. We share 7 proven ways to supercharge your productivity and get sh*t done faster.
1. Touch it once
The “touch it once” rule is simple: do not start a task until you are ready to complete it. This rule prevents you from opening your inbox and rereading the same email over and over again. It also prevents you from opening up a document to start working, sighing, and closing it back out.
Those mini-moments of procrastination are extremely de-motivating, and trick you into thinking the task is more insurmountable than it really is.
Take a deep breath, promise yourself you’ll only touch something once, and get to work.
2. Follow the two-minute rule
The two-minute rule states that you must immediately do any task that can be completed in two minutes or less.
There is no room for procrastination with this one, and thank goodness for that. The two-minute rule is perfect for knocking out a bunch of email replies or those pesky administrative tasks that can build up and get ignored.
3. Clean up your workspace
Research increasingly suggests that clutter is bad for us. It stresses us out, and drains our energy. Worst of all, clutter is closely linked with procrastination, a serious productivity-killer.
Trust us: it’s easier to get tasks done when you can actually see your desk. Clear up the clutter on your physical and digital desktops. You’ll have an easier time finding everything you need, and you’ll feel less stressed: two things that make it easier to get tasks done fast.
Pro Tip: Read our guide to creating a productive workspace.
4. Use the Pomodoro technique
Our minds wander 37% of the time we’re at work. No wonder it’s tough for us to get tasks done.
Fortunately, the Pomodoro technique is here to save the day. Created in the 1980s by a college student named Francesco Cirillo, it’s designed to keep you on task, no matter what wandering thoughts come up. Here’s how it works.
- Choose your task.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes. (Bonus points if it’s shaped like a tomato. “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for tomato.)
- Work on your task until the timer goes off.
- Take a five-minute break. (Note: this should be a true break that lets your mind rest, not something stressful like checking emails. Try making yourself a cup of coffee, watching a YouTube video, or stepping outside.)
- Set another timer for 25 minutes and repeat.
Once you’ve worked for four sessions, or about two hours total, take a longer 15 to 30 minute break. Then start over again.
5. Stop multitasking
We know multitasking is a touchy subject for some people. But, time and again, the statistics show that multitasking is bad news for productivity. In fact, some experts say it slows down productivity by as much as 40 percent!
When you’re working on a task, work on that task and that task only. Close your email inbox, log out of Facebook, and turn off notifications. Set your phone to “do not disturb” or place it on the other side of the room, where you won’t be distracted every time it lights up.
6. Practice the Pareto principle
Also known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto principle states that 80% of our results stem from only 20% of our efforts. In other words, we tend to spend most of our time on things that don’t matter as much. So, when you’re planning your work day, tackle the hard stuff first. You’ll find yourself getting more done, faster.
A 2021 study backs this up. As the researchers state, “People that started a series of tasks with an easy task had significantly higher procrastination scores than those that started with a difficult task.”
7. Schedule a power hour
Want to get a lot of tasks done quickly? Schedule a weekly “power hour.” Developed by happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin, this is a time for you to tackle as many tasks as you can within one hour.
The one-hour time limit makes it fun. In a way, you’re challenging yourself to see just how productive you can really be! It also keeps things manageable. If it’s only one hour of your week, it’s easier to stick to the routine and knock out at least a few tasks.
Pro Tip: To get yourself in the mood, put on an energizing playlist.
Get ready to speed through your to-do list
Adopt any of the techniques above, and you’ll find yourself getting tasks done faster in no time.
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