When you’re exhausted with lots of tasks on your to-do list, the best thing you can do is to unwind (mentally and physically) regularly during the workday. This will keep you energized, more focused, and more productive as you cross the finish line to achieve your short- and long-term goals.
Below, experts from Fast Company’s board of directors describe their most effective productivity hacks in times of crisis and how useful they are when trying to get the best out of yourself.
1. ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
When a last-minute health crisis moves an event online or high-profile talent decides to perform from home instead of in person, success hinges on decisions you made months earlier. At VIVA, we have satellite planning teams assigned to work on scenarios B and C even as plan A progresses at full speed. In this way, the quality of our work remains high despite time pressure. – Lorne Greene, VIVA creative
2. PAIRING WITH A FOCUS BUDDY
I use focusmate.com, which offers distraction-free blocks of productivity time. It basically matches you with someone for an hour-long virtual collaboration session where you both focus on getting things done. – Brian Weinberg, Foundation for Regeneration
3. ELIMINATE NON-URGENT DIStractions
Turn off the WiFi. Seriously. By temporarily eliminating the endless stream of email and instant messages, you can really focus on the priority tasks at hand and probably get them done faster and with higher quality than would be possible with interruptions. Clearly block this focus time on your calendar and give 1-2 trusted employees an alternative channel to reach you, e.g. B. by SMS. – Shani Harmon, stop meeting like that
4. TAKE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL BREAKS
It may sound counterintuitive, but the busier you are, the more you should take short breaks from exercise or meditation throughout the day. Not only will this keep you energized and relaxed, but you will also be far more productive as your mind is working at a significantly higher level than it would in a non-stop slog. If you attend business-to-business meetings, plan to end each meeting five minutes early to build this in. It works! – Marc Inzelstein, Indiggo – Return on Leadership
5. ACCORDING TO THE RULE “QUALITY BEFORE QUANTITY”.
People overcrowd to-do lists, which ultimately creates chaos. One effective method is the “quality over quantity” rule. Instead of trying to complete ten tasks, pick three to four of the most important ones and stick to only those. With too many to-dos, our mind can become distracted and get lost in anxiety overload. This allows you to focus on a handful of things and get them done really well. – Josh Perlstein, Reaction Media
6. CUTS UNNECESSARY MEETINGS
Be stingy with your time! Challenge whether the meetings on your calendar are strictly for you to attend or for informational purposes. FYI, an email update should suffice. For important meetings, you should question whether 30 minutes or 15 minutes is sufficient instead of an hour. For these important meetings, require the organizer to have a clear agenda with goals. Your focus and time are precious. – Ed Beltran, Fierce, Inc.
7. SET UP AUTOMATED TASKS
First, don’t wait until the crisis to implement productivity hacks. Implement before the crisis. Next, identify everything you do regularly, including any recurring purchases or tasks on your list. Finally, you should use automation. For example, set up automatic payment for recurring bills and schedule regular purchases in advance. Anything you can put on autopilot will help you better deal with the next crisis. – Camille Preston, AIM leadership, LLC
8. CHOOSING AN OPTIMAL OR COLLABORATE WORK ENVIRONMENT
If the crisis situation requires collaboration, gather the right people around you in a physical or virtual space. If it requires extreme individual focus and attention to detail, choose the right place and gather the right tools or information you need to devote the calm and intelligence needed to meet the deadline. – Steve Dion, Dion leadership
9. FOCUS ON THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS.
Provide your team with guidance on the top three things to focus on. Set priorities and devote focused time to activities that bring focus to what matters most. Cancel all meetings not directly related to these things for everyone involved. Freedom and focus accelerate results that matter. – Matt Domo, Fifth Vantage
10. STAY ACTIVE OUTDOORS
A productivity hack is a kind of exercise for me. It could be a walk rain or shine, a few laps of cross country skiing or a jog with our dog. The energy and endorphins then flow back into work when I return to my desk. Throw in a hug from my husband and one of his “world famous” (in my world at least) chai lattes and I feel like I can conquer anything! – Leigh Burgess, Bold Industries Group, Inc.
11. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Get a good night’s rest (at least eight to nine hours) and exercise for 30 minutes a day. Both are often overlooked and really push you to achieve optimal performance. – Britton Bloch, Federal Navy
12. CHANGE YOUR LANDSCAPE
Let the sunshine in! During stressful times, working outdoors, near an open space, or in a room full of greenery can create a sense of ease, which in turn increases your productivity. A change of scenery can be the perfect jolt in times when productivity matters. – Brandon Pena, BrandON Media Group
13. SILENCE YOUR NOTIFICATIONS
The real key to being productive and making a simple checkbox to-do list method work is defending your own time. During tough times, the best thing you can do for yourself is mute your notifications, dismiss all non-urgent meetings, and settle into a place optimized for what you need to focus on. – Bilal Aijazi, Polly
14. MASTER YOUR WORKFLOW FOR 90 MINUTES
Mastering the flow is key to maximizing productivity and creativity. In a 90-minute optimal flow state, we could accomplish as much as we could in a few hours of work. There are several triggers to activating flow, including having a clear goal that motivates not having distractions, engaging in an activity that uses our strengths, and making sure we are well rested beforehand. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5
15. OPTIMIZING YOUR EMAIL PROCESS
A mentor once gave some very tactical and practical advice on productivity. He said: “Just look at an email once and reply to it, delete it or move it to another folder. If you’re not ready to take action, don’t look at it because you’re wasting time.” — Paola Doebel, Ensono