We all wish we had more time. Between kids, work, errands, and the little tasks we try to take care of around the house – it’s difficult to get to the things that really make a difference. While we can’t magically give you an extra hour or two, here are 5 productivity hacks to help you get more done in less time. So you can carve out that extra hour or two for some needed R&R or to work on that personal goal you’ve been putting off.
We’ll also share how the Academy of Learning Career College helps prepare students for personal and professional success from day one.
Productivity Hack #1: The Pomodoro Technique
One of the most popular techniques to prioritize your time is all about tomatoes. Yes. Tomatoes. Or pomodoro, which is Italian for tomatoes.
The idea comes from university student Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. And what did he do? Well he grabbed a tomato shaped kitchen timer and the Pomodoro technique was born.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pushing through a task that might take hours leads us to getting bogged down and could result in the task taking longer than it should. Which means we’re getting less done. Pomodoro works because it keeps your mind fresh! And fresh minds are better workers.
Even though this technique is pretty simple, there are some tips from Pomodoro experts on how to make the most from every Pomodoro, or your 25 minute tomato.
Rule 1: Group small tasks together
Rule 2: Simplify complex tasks
Rule 3: Always finish your Pomodoro
But what makes the Pomodoro technique so effective? It’s a great tool to combat procrastination!
Sometimes a daunting task can keep getting bigger and bigger in our minds. Breaking it down into bite sized pieces makes those tough tasks more manageable. We also complete something every 25 minutes. And if you like to make lists, you know how good it feels to check something off.
Todoist, a digital to-do list and task management tool breaks down everything Pomodoro you need to know here.
Productivity Hack #2: Eat That Frog
Here’s the big idea: Most people don’t like to eat frogs. In fact, the idea of eating a frog sounds like a terrible idea (though I’m sure someone reading this would disagree).
Likewise, oftentimes when we look at all the things we have to get done during the day, there is that one project or task that is kind of like eating a frog. No fun.
So what’s the problem?
When we don’t want to do something, we avoid it and will actually come up with other things to do that aren’t really that important, just so we don’t have to “eat that frog”.
And the productivity hack?
Eat that frog. First!
By getting the task you don’t want to do out of the way first, it frees you up to work on the things you enjoy.
Check out the book, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy for additional benefits and tips for eating frogs …or you know, crossing that difficult task off the list.
Productivity Hack #3: ABCDE Prioritization
(Critical, Important, Optional)
The ABCDE method of prioritization is another Brian Tracy hack that we love. It’s from his book, No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline.
Here’s how it works:
Sometimes we have a long to-do list and it can be hard to determine which things to get done first and which things are okay to put off.
The danger is that long lists can be overwhelming and actually encourage procrastination. Similar to the frog example earlier, we can be tempted to work on the stuff that’s fun and push off the things we don’t want to do, even if they are more important.
So how do you pick what to do and when? ABCDE
Step 1: Write down your full to-do list on a sheet of paper.
Step 2: Label each item A, B, C, D, or E
A – Very Important (MUST DO)
B – Somewhat Important (SHOULD DO)
C – Good to do, but not important (CAN DO)
D – Delegate – These tasks are important, but someone else can do them
E – Eliminate – These tasks are not important and shouldn’t be done right now
Now, you might be wondering, what if I have too many A’s? Well, then number them in the order you can do them or the order of importance. But remember, if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
SHORTCUT METHOD: Have a small list that needs to be prioritized fast? Instead of the ABCDE method, try the CIO method.
Label each item on your list as Critical, Important, or Optional.
Get your critical tasks done first, then the important ones, and if you have time, you can work on the optional tasks.
STEP 3: Execute!
Once you’ve prioritized your list, it’s time to get to work, confident that you’re working on the right stuff first …even if it’s a frog 🐸
If video’s are more your style, watch this video of Brian Tracy discussing the ABCDE Method and the Eat the Frog method. Have fun!
Productivity Hack #4: Time Batching
This next productivity hack is all about maximizing your focus. When we switch our focus over and over again, we lose momentum and can get distracted.
Time batching, which is a recommended component of the pomodoro technique discussed earlier, is about combining similar tasks into one time slot so that you can use momentum to help you accomplish your tasks faster.
An easy way to illustrate this technique is to think about how we run errands (or how we should).
Option A: Go out to pick up groceries, then go out to pick up the kids from school, then go out to the bottle depot, then go out to get gas, and then go out to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.
Option B: Go out to the bottle depot, the grocery store (and visit the pharmacy inside), get gas, and then pick up the kids from school …in one trip.
That’s batching. Combining tasks so you don’t lose momentum. In Option A, momentum is lost going in and out of the house multiple times. And when you go in the house after your first trip, you can get distracted and ultimately run out of time for the rest of your errands.
The same is true for work, home, and study.
At work, block off time to work on similar tasks all at once that don’t require a lot of brain power, time, or energy to switch between.
Similarly, when focused on school, it makes sense to work on one subject at a time. So spend time on a school project, work through a reading assignment, and then study for your exam. This keeps your brain focused in one area even though you are switching tasks, which prevents you from losing momentum.
At home, consider planning a cleaning or organizing day each week rather than trying to do a little bit every day to see if you are more productive.
Combine this idea of batching with the pomodoro technique and you’ll be flying through your to-do list!
To dive deep into time batching, here is an in-depth look at this hack from Monday.com, a work management platform.
Productivity Hack #5: Plan Tomorrow Today
Did you know what you needed to get done today before the day started?
We can admit it together – there are probably too many days where the first hour of the day is spent deciding how to spend the rest of the day.
Or worse, we realize at the end of the day that we didn’t plan the right amount of time for the most important things we had to get done.
This productivity hack is a game changer for time management, confidence, and success.
Here are two ways to maximize your productivity by planning ahead.
- Don’t stop working or studying until you plan your next day. What this looks like is carving out the final 15-minutes of your work day to build your to-do list (and prioritize it) for the following day.
What this does is allows you to walk away from your work or study session with a plan for success. You’ll know what you need to do and when, which means you can leave your worries behind and walk into the next day with a strategy.
- Keep a pad of paper on your bedside table. Do you ever go to bed thinking about all the things you need to do? Here’s a best practice – get it out of your head and onto paper.
The idea here is the same as option 1, except you’re doing it at the end of your day. Think through what needs to happen, write it down, prioritize it, and go to sleep worry free.
An added benefit to this productivity hack is that when something pops into your mind that you may have forgotten about, rather than thinking about it all night, you can roll over, grab your pen and paper, and write it down.
Here is a P.M. Productivity Worksheet to help you get started planning tomorrow today.
There’s an App for that – here’s our favourite:
Todoist: Create to-do lists that sync across all of your devices for free
BONUS: Thought Patterns for a Successful Career
One of the best hacks for productivity isn’t about a tool or a strategy. It’s about mindset.
When you’re in the right state of mind, getting more done is natural.
That’s why every student who starts their diploma or certificate program will be enrolled in our instructor-led course, Thought Patterns for a Successful Career™.
Thought Patterns for a Successful Career™ is an educational process designed to expose students to concepts that can significantly change their lives. It teaches persistence and high achievement skills, addressing issues such as returning to school as an adult, fear of success, managing personal challenges while attending school and making a transition into a successful lifestyle following graduation.
Going to college as an adult can feel overwhelming. How will you find the time? Will you be able to succeed?
One of the reasons our students find success through Academy of Learning Career College is because of the priority we put on student support. From the tools and strategies we teach our students through the Thought Patterns for a Successful Career course to the dedicated support from our Student Support Services team, each student is given everything they need to rise above their circumstances and build a career they love.