16 Productivity Hacks that Will Help You Get Stuff Done at Work


Isn’t it strange how the more access to technology we have, the more disconnected and less productive we feel? It’s no joke.  So how do we retrain our brains to stay focused despite all the distractions? Try some of these hacks…


#1 Keep a clear schedule in the morning

Always check your email in the morning to ensure you are not missing any last-minute critical news before heading into a meeting (including a notice saying the meeting was cancelled, etc.).

#2 Reclaim your computer

If your desktop resembles the Vegas strip, it’s time to tone it down. There is no need for blinking and beeps all the time. If you need a reminder, use it but don’t overdo it. It clutters your mind and distracts you from what is really important.

#3 Rules, Filters and Folders

Try using rules, filters and folders to help you sort your email before you read it. This helps you manage the time you spend reading emails. Another thing you can do as a team is to agree on title prefaces. For example, “Urgent, For Action:” is only for activities that trump all other activities. “Urgent, FYI” is informational only with no action required. “Situational Awareness:” and copying others is helpful so that only those on the “To:” line need to respond. “Response Requested:” helps so people know they need to respond. Of course, after the colon on all of these is the subject of interest. These rules as a team really help when email is the main source of communication and recordkeeping.


Internet & Social Media

#1 Save it for another time

There’s nothing worse than trying to hold a conversation or “be present” with someone when they are constantly checking their phone for an update or status. Save the news and updates for dedicated “check” times. Else, you are giving so much power to others by being forever accessible. You do have other things to do!

#2 Choose a reward that is offline

Rewarding yourself for a job well-done is definitely needed. But rather than something that is online when your work is online too, try taking a walk to get fresh air or a hot cup of joe. Besides, checking Twitter uses the same part of your brain that work does – give yourself a real break!

#3 Take on tab at a time

Challenge yourself to focus on one website at a time by not allowing multiple tabs to remain open on your browser. Research shows that tackling one thing at a time typically results in better overall decisions than trying to juggle multiple things simultaneously.

#4 Cut off rabbit trails

If you are addicted to social media – where you start on one site and go through 3 more and then don’t know where 2 hours went… Consider installing a program like Cold Turkey LeechBlock or Anti-Social – these will block you from sites that tempt you to lose track of your time.

Your Phone


#1 Distance is not a bad thing

Try leaving your phone somewhere out of site like in a bag or in a drawer. This will require more effort to check it and should deter you from picking it up with every little noise it makes.

#2 Do You Hear What I Hear?

Phones these days come loaded with multiple ring tones for different callers, voicemails, tweets, texts, etc. Use these to your advantage. For folks you need to pick up the phone for like the babysitter or the mechanic who has your car, set a ring tone so you know it is something you need to pay attention to. For all others, have a generic tone that you can check for a message later. Also, you might want to pick tones that are not abrupt or jarring if someone calls in the middle of a conversation.

#3 Remove favorite apps from the home screen

Put your favorite apps on another page or in a folder so that you are not tempted to open them on a whim. This will help to curb the temptation to get distracted!



#1 Become Invisible

Got a deadline? Need to get a lot of work done but you are surrounded by those with the gift of gab? Try booking a conference rom or an empty office until you get your work done.

#2 Send a Signal

Dedicate an hour or two each day to uninterrupted, innovative thinking. This will train those around you to consider doing the same – it will also help you develop a habit of getting in gear to focus rather than trying to multi-task all the time. If you don’t have a door for your office space, consider a bookshelf or orienting your workspace so that your eyes are not distracted by motion or others around you.

#3 Avoid gossip

We all know how much time is lost talking about the person who totally “wrecked” the last meeting. Always know that those who gossip will do so about you too, so you are on the clock. It really is a matter of time. Often, our gossip does not put us in a positive attitude about those we work with. Keep your comments positive and encourage others to do the same. You’ll notice that the more you do that, the fewer people will come to complain about you – taking up time and leaving you not feeling so great about your work environment.



#1 Standing Room Only

Research indicates that meetings are about 1/3 longer than needed just because people are sitting down. Consider holding standing meetings. People will be sick of being on their feet – this will help drive folks to be more expedient in their discussions and action plans.  And if others don’t buy in right away, try not sitting during meetings if you can. Research has shown that groups that work together are more productive on their feet – maybe the stats will help you convince them!

#2 The No-Phone Zone

Ever been to a meeting and everyone is on their blackberry or phone texting away? Try the no-phone rule. If the phone rings during a meeting, the person contributes a dollar toward a party at the end of the year. The no-phone rule has proven to be very effective in helping to ensure people stay engaged. We have also heard of bosses having a rule where all blackberries were put on silent and faced-down on the conference room table so folks were not tempted to sneak a peek under the table. Do what you must – manage your technology, don’t let it manage you.

#3 Choose how you spend your time

When the boss calls an all-hands, you don’t have a choice. But when a co-worker wants to hold a casual pow-wow, you might want to consider requesting an agenda before you attend and ask what the objective of the meeting is. Often times, people don’t have a focus or a goal to achieve during the timeframe – this leads to runaway meetings and possibly follow-on meetings with more of the same!

By Hannah Jones

Hannah is a Manchester based writer who has spent many years studying and working in the field of journalism and psychology. Hannah enjoys swimming, meditation and dog walking. Her favourite quote is, 'If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you.'