This is an article from Chase Smith from Chasing Productivity, an up and coming blog on personal productivity, stress management and health tips all to increase personal productivity. Chase works with people ranging from freelance contractors, professionals and the everyday person who is just looking to be a bit more productive.
With the fast pace of the modern world, we all have found ourselves faced with a long list of things to do and too little time in which to do them.
As a result, life-hacking – streamlining and organizing your life to prioritize the essentials – has become increasingly popular, since it allows people to spend less time doing tedious chores and more time having fun. If you’d like to join this movement and hack your life, here are some key tips to get started:
- Draw up a schedule. Make a list of the tasks you have to do, set times to take care of them, and cross them out when you’re done. When drawing up your schedule, think about how you can consolidate tasks. For instance, do you need to go grocery shopping every day, or can you pick up supplies for the entire week in one trip? Do you have to sort through the mail every evening, or can you put it in a pile and deal with it all in one batch? As importantly, keep a close eye on your progress. When you find that you’re routinely not addressing a particular item, ask yourself if it’s really necessary or if you can cut it.
- Use personal productivity software to take care of tasks that would otherwise use mental energy. For instance, time management software can keep track of your schedule, and even inform you when you have an appointment. Better still, some programs can share your schedule with other people, so that they can work around your existing commitments. Equally useful is software that automatically sorts your e-mail for you, separating your business from your personal correspondence, and deleting any spam that might otherwise clog up your inbox. It allows you to focus on work e-mails while you are at the office, and makes you much more productive as a result. Finally, you may have other personal needs, such as financial management, tax preparation, home improvement or grocery shopping, which can also be simplified through the use of specialized software.
- Keep an eye on the watch. Time is money, yet we rarely track it in the same way as we do our finances. Time tracking software can help you work out how you spend your time, and how you can make better use of it. If you notice that you have long periods of wasted time, you can take advantage of them to complete necessary tasks.
- Pay your bills online. Sorting through bills and writing checks takes time and energy which is better spent elsewhere. Most companies give their customers the option of paying their bills automatically online. You sign up for the service, enter your credit or debit card information, and never have to think about it again.
- Remove yourself from junk mail and telemarketing lists. It may only take a few minutes to sort through piles of advertising or to tell a telemarketer you aren’t interested, but those minutes add up over the weeks and turn into hours you could have spent more productively. Besides, cutting out a source of annoyance from your life can only make you happier.
- Make good use of other people. Ask your spouse or colleagues if they would mind remembering particularly important items on your itinerary, and then reminding you closer to the time. Alternatively, invite friends over for dinner or drinks as an incentive to clean and organise your house. If you know that people are coming over and that your house needs to be pleasant for them, you will be far more motivated. You’ll also have a fun evening as a reward for your hard work.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to people. You only have so many hours in the day, and you don’t need to fill them up with obligations. Decide what is important and meaningful to you, and focus on that work.
- Start afresh. Sometimes, your life is simply too cluttered and you have to clear the decks. That may mean deleting the older unread e-mails in your inbox, or throwing out a pile of junk mail without sorting it thoroughly. If it’s really important, people will get back to you about it.
- Reward yourself for work well done. If you have a lot of dull tasks that you need to do, schedule a treat, like a movie, dinner at a restaurant or a spa-treatment, for the end of them, so that you have something to which you can look forward, and will get through them more quickly than usual.
These tips are simply a few of the many strategies available to people looking to manage their time and energy more effectively. If you decide to implement them, you will be amazed by how much more time you will have, not only for the activities you have to do, but also the ones you want to do. If you’re new to life-hacking though, the concept may seem a little overwhelming, as you may not know where to begin or what tools to use.
Your e-mail is a great place to start, as it’s incredibly easy to sort out a disorganized inbox and yet it can have an appreciable effect on your productivity by itself. For instance, Scrubly provides a contact clean-up tool, which serves to remove duplicate contacts, delete junk addresses, resolve any conflicts, and back-up your data. It is compatible with Outlook, Mac and Gmail address books, which makes it easy to find a version that works on your system. It only takes a few minutes to work through the address book, and gives you complete control over the process. As such, Scrubly can serve as an excellent and easy introduction to life-hacking, and the first step towards a more organized and efficient life.