I am obsessed with life hacks.
To this end, I frequently read lifehacker and the works of Tim Ferris to learn how I can get more out of less. I have learned that many setbacks and difficulties are a result of flawed mindsets, for which I found life coaching and therapy to be the most beneficial. However, there are specific ideas and practices that I have personally found make a big difference in my day.
1. 80/20 principle – I learned this principle, developed by Vilfredo Pareto, in Tim Ferris’ book The 4 Hour Work Week. This principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. The same is true about your weaknesses – 80% of your headaches come from 20% of your problems.
Once you realize this, you can take stock of the various aspects of your life. What activities do you enjoy most? Which of your activities have resulted in the most results? Can you do more of them? Conversely, what aspects of your life are causing you the most grief? Can you cut back on them?
For example, I realized that I really enjoyed creative writing, and am good at it, which means I get it done really quickly. So 80% of my satisfaction comes from 20% of my work, because I get it done quickest. I have therefore resolved to increase the amount of time I spend writing each day.
2. Prioritization – there is usually only a couple things on your to do list that are really important, that would really help you progress or lead to significant results. Conversely, you’ll find that these are the hardest to do and that often a big part of you wants to do anything but that.
I have found it hugely helpful to get into the habit of asking myself “is what I’m doing right now actually important?” and “if I could do just one thing today, what would it be?” This again is a Tim Ferris suggestion, who recommends getting your key daily task done first, by 11 am.
3. Empower others first – I learned this trick from Amy Holtz, president of Jerusalem U. If you have multiple things to do right now, give priority to those that will empower others to do their work. That way, when you return to your own tasks, other people will simultaneously be working for you as well. For example, if a graphic designer is waiting for your feedback, give it to her before you continue with you own work.
That said, it also helps to empower others to be as independent as possible and make their own decisions. Although this comes with a certain amount of fear, you will find that most people will rise to the responsibility that you grant them.
4. Use Wunderlist – Wunderlist is a great, user-friendly to do list that runs on both your phone and computer and allows you to sync your tasks between multiple devices. I create a new list for every major project I’m involved in, and have lists for movies I want to watch and things I need to buy as well.
Ideally, a task should be written as an action: “Write marketing proposal for Lenovo”, and should have as much information as possible on it, for example, the number of the person you need to call. David Allen, in Getting Things Done, recommends shorting your to do list by the type of action needed- “calls” “at the computer” “at the supermarket”.
I personally prefer to group my tasks by project, but with Wunderlist you can also hashtag an item and find similar other items like it by clicking on it. So if I write “#call Dave to discuss the new sales form. 0542554188”, and click on “#call” I’ll get a list of all the calls I need to make, regardless of which project they are in. The same can be applied to #write, #buy, or #discuss.
5. Work standing up – I have find that my slightly hyper personality works well standing up. There are many models of standing desks for sale, and, complemented with a bar stool, these are becoming increasingly common sights in enlightened workplaces as people realize the health and productivity benefits that come with using it.
I have found it helpful to employ this technique, especially when doing tasks I don’t particularly enjoy since it gives me an energy boost. I actually wish I could do this more often, but it is very hard to find standing desks in Israel.
6. Eat breakfast – I often don’t feel particularly hungry in the morning, certainly not a hunger that a few random crackers eaten on the go can’t solve. But I found that when I deliberately ate a good breakfast even when I don’t feel particularly hungry, it helps me stay productive for the entire day.
I personally only feel full when I eat carbs, bread specifically, but if you don’t buy into this common-sense conspiracy, you are welcome to eat whatever works for you.
Do you have any favorite productivity tips? Please share them in the comments below!
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