41+ Productivity Hacks to Elevate Your Efficiency in 2024

Productivity hacks, woman sitting at desk working in home office

Have you ever felt like your to-do list is too long and your day is too short? It’s a struggle to use your time effectively and you can’t get back your wasted time. That’s why I’ve put together the best productivity hacks and time hacks to help you stay focused and relieve stress.

In this no-nonsense list, you’ll find productivity tips including conventional wisdom and thinking outside-the-box ideas.

Productivity Hacks

These productivity hacks are about all the tools and techniques to help you tackle different tasks in your daily routine. They’ll help you sort out your important tasks and stop you from wasting time.

Pomodoro Technique

Break work into short bursts, separated by quick breaks. This stops your attention span from dwindling to nothing and keeps you from getting burnt out throughout the day. I like to use a 25-minute work interval and a 5-minute break interval, but it’s up to you to decide how long your work and break intervals are.

Eisenhower Matrix

Also known as the Urgent Important Matrix. You prioritize tasks by urgency and importance to distinguish between truly important tasks and the ones that can wait, be delegated, or cut out entirely.

Eisenhower Matrix made by Chris from Chris Assists

Use Virtual Workspaces

Virtual Workspaces put all of your files and apps in one convenient place, usually connected by a central dashboard. This way you don’t have to switch back and forth between totally different software or go digging through endless tabs and folders to find what you want.

They’ve even gotten more advanced, with virtual office spaces, by being able to imitate the feel of a physical office while working completely remote.

Two-Minute Rule

If a task can be done in two minutes or less, do it right away. This helps clear small tasks that can pile up and become overwhelming.

Batch Processing

Group similar tasks together and tackle them in one go to increase cognitive performance by not having to switch between different types of tasks. Like doing all of your budgeting together, and then doing all your organizing tasks.

Use Body Doubling

Body doubling is a technique that originated to help people with ADHD focus, but everyone can benefit from this technique. It uses the social nature of people to stay focused on work when they see another person working at the same time. The person, your body double, could be anyone doing any sort of work, you just need to be able to see them.

Body doubling has become easier than ever because of the rise in virtual coworking spaces.

body doubling, two people working next to each other in a coworking space

Digital Declutter

Regularly clean up your digital workspace, including email, desktop files, and cloud storage, to reduce distractions. Digital distractions are just as bad as physical distractions.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Repetitive tasks can be automated using tools and software to handle scheduling, email organizing and responses, and other data entry to save time. AI tools have gotten really good with this kind of automation.

No-Meeting Days

Designate certain days as meeting-free to allow for uninterrupted deep work and so you’re not pulled in different directions.

Use a Task Manager

Task management tools and online digital planners keep track of deadlines, projects, and daily tasks to help you stay organized and on track.

close up view of person holding a phone using a task management app

Avoid Multitasking

Focus on one task at a time. Multitasking can reduce productivity and increase errors. The human brain is not designed to focus on multiple tasks at the same time.

Set Clear Boundaries

Establish work-life boundaries to prevent burnout. Set specific work hours and have a dedicated workspace. Your home office space and desk setup can greatly affect your productivity.

Single-Tasking Periods

Dedicate blocks of time to single tasks, focusing deeply on one project without distractions, to enhance the quality and efficiency of work.

Mind Mapping

If you’re a visual person, using mind mapping for project planning and brainstorming to visually organize thoughts and ideas will help you gain clarity on your overall goal.

mind map written on paper sitting on desk with tiny colored blocks as markers

Implement the 80/20 Rule

Apply the Pareto Principle by identifying the 20% of tasks that will give 80% of results, focusing on high-impact activities.

Use Voice-to-Text Tools

Not very good at typing and your handwriting looks like chicken scratch? Use voice-to-text technologies for note-taking and drafting emails to save time on your to-dos.

Set Up a Distraction List

Keep a notepad or digital document open to jot down unrelated thoughts or tasks that come to mind while working on other things. This allows you to return to them later without losing focus.

Use a Standing Desk

Alternate between sitting and standing while working to improve posture, increase energy, and boost productivity. This one helps me a lot because sitting too long makes me tired and achy.

woman working at standing desk in light bright home office

Daily Top Three

Each morning, identify the top three priorities for the day. This focuses your efforts on high-impact tasks. I use this technique when I’m not sure what I should do first, or I haven’t structured my day ahead.

Regular Exercise Breaks

Add short exercise breaks into your day to boost blood flow, enhance cognitive function, and maintain your energy levels. This pairs well with the Pomodoro technique.

Theme Days

Assign specific themes or focuses to each day of the week (e.g., Marketing Mondays, Financial Fridays) to streamline your tasks. This can help you mentally prepare for specific tasks because you know on Wednesdays you organize.

End-of-Day Review

Spend the last 15-20 minutes of your day reviewing completed tasks and planning for the next day. This way you’ll have a strong start in the morning without wasting time.

Time Hacks

Time hacks are all about time management and how to work smarter. Productivity hacks help you be productive, time hacks help you be productive faster. If you want to speed through your to-do list then these are for you.

man sitting at desk working very fast, blurred speed lines

Time Blocking

Set aside specific blocks of time for different activities or tasks in your calendar. This will give you dedicated focus on each type of task or activity. I use my Google calendar to block off segments of my day to give me reminders on my phone. Typically I set time for my working day, meetings, breaks, and errands.

Early Morning Routines

Start your day with a routine that energizes you, like exercise or meditation, to increase productivity throughout the day. Having a routine before work will also help you get in the mindset for work.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Learn and use keyboard shortcuts for your most-used software to save time on repetitive tasks. There are plenty of time-saving shortcuts in Google Docs and Google Sheets, Word, Excel, Outlook, and the list goes on.

If you want to get fancy, I like to use a mini programmable keypad that saves my most used keyboard shortcuts. This way I only have to push one button instead of a combination.

Meal Planning and Prep

Meal prepping and planning meals in advance is a great way to save time during the workweek and reduce the temptation to order out. I used to cook small meals every day or every other day and didn’t realize how much time I was spending on cooking and then cleaning up the mess.

Now every Sunday is meal prep day and instead of cooking and then washing pots and pans every day, I’ve cut it down to one to two times a week. The rest of the days I heat and eat then throw the dishes in the dishwasher.

full meal prep containers on modern farmhouse butcher block kitchen island

Email Templates and Canned Responses

Use templates for frequently sent emails or responses to streamline your responses and maintain consistency in communication.

Limit Email Checking

To cut down on wasted time and minimize distractions, choose specific points in the day to check and respond to emails instead of repeatedly going back and refreshing your inbox. Constantly checking your email breaks your concentration and can get you distracted with a task that you had no intention of working on at that moment.

Delegate and Outsource

If a task can be delegated or outsourced to free up your time for more critical work, think about doing that. You can ask yourself if doing this task is the best use of your time. If not then it may be a good candidate for delegation.

Use a Second Monitor

Add a second monitor to your workspace to increase digital real estate. Years ago I used to be adamant that one monitor was enough until I felt the joy of being able to type on one monitor while having relevant information on the other instead of losing it in my sea of tabs.

Regular Breaks

If you’re not using the Pomodoro technique then make sure to build regular short breaks into your day to rest and recharge. If you don’t give your mind a break your productivity will plummet.

woman sitting in home office stretching arms overhead while sitting in her chair

Set Deadlines for Yourself

Even for tasks that don’t have a deadline, setting your own can create a sense of urgency and help prevent procrastination. If you don’t have a definite due date for your task then you can always say “I’ll do it later” or “I’ll do it tomorrow,” which is a habit you don’t want to enable.

Schedule Email Send Times

Write emails at your convenience and schedule them to be sent during optimal times during the day to better manage your workflow. Just don’t abuse this too much, I think we’re all guilty of sending that email we didn’t want to deal with at 4:59 pm as we’re walking out the door to go home.

Implement a Morning Power Hour

Dedicate the first hour of your day to the most difficult task, taking advantage of peak morning energy levels. If you haven’t heard of it this is the “Eat the Frog” method inspired by Mark Twain. This technique has helped me the most because by the time the afternoon hits my ability to concentrate goes downhill the rest of the day. You do all the hard stuff in the morning while you’re still full of energy. I pair this with the Daily Top Three method.

Virtual Assistant

Consider hiring a virtual assistant to handle administrative tasks, scheduling, and email management, freeing up your time for more strategic work. This is more affordable than you think with the advancements in AI assistants.

android virtual assistant sitting at a desk working on computer looking at floating data points

Learn to Say No

Politely declining additional responsibilities or meetings that don’t align with your priorities can save valuable time and focus. If you stretch yourself too thin not only will your productivity suffer but so will your mental well-being.

Use Focus Apps

Download apps that block distracting websites or social media during work hours. This will stop you from reflexively picking up your phone and mindlessly scrolling or opening a new tab and wasting time going down the clickbait rabbit hole.

Streamline Communication

Use clear and direct communication methods, like bullet points in emails or brief video messages. You and the person you’re communicating with will appreciate the extra time gained by cutting out the fluff and getting right to the point.

Optimize Your Work Environment

Create a dedicated, comfortable workspace and desk setup with minimal distractions to enhance your focus and efficiency.

comfy home office with a city view

Sleep Optimization

Prioritize a regular sleep schedule to improve rest quality, which directly impacts productivity and cognitive function. I always thought that if I got the right amount of sleep it didn’t matter if I went to bed at 10:00 pm or 1:00 am, but I was wrong. After I gave myself a set schedule, always going to bed and waking up at the same time, the quality of my sleep drastically improved. It got so much easier to just wake up and start my day.

Meal Delivery Services

If you have the money, a good meal delivery service will get rid of some of your daily to-dos. It will give you back time from your day by making cooking and cleanup much faster and simpler.

Speed Reading Techniques

This one isn’t for everyone, I know I can’t do it. Speed reading helps you quickly process information and reduce time spent on reading emails, reports, and other material.

Inspiration and Motivation

mountain top sunrise, inspiration and motivation

One thing I have to mention is the role of inspiration and motivation. Positive interactions and relationships can give us that surge inspiration, or get us motivated to push through and get work done.

A personal vision that resonates with you and acts as a strong motivational force, helping you stay focused on your goals, is a great thing to have. A positive mindset keeps you thinking constructively and can make it easier to deal with setbacks and overcome obstacles, so it makes sense to strive for that.

However, you won’t always be inspired or motivated and you won’t always be able to stay positive. You need a system in place for the days where you’re not at your best so you have the tools and techniques to get work done anyway. With the right system, you never have to worry about being productive because you’ll always know what you need to do.

Closing Thoughts: Long-Term Productivity Mindset

little lightbulb robot plugging itself in

These productivity hacks and time hacks are a great way to boost your productivity but to stay productive it’s important to incorporate what you learned here into your daily routine and habits. Then with all that free time you could even think about some ideas for a part-time business.

Productivity is a process and it’s not one size fits all. You need to experiment and figure out what works best for you. As your goals and needs change the tools and techniques you use can also change.

I built a personal task management system, which I shared how to do in my ultimate guide, that’s helped me with not only the quality of my work but also the amount of time I have to spend on my personal projects. Using these skills will help you make productivity a core part of your lifestyle and not just something you think about when you have a looming deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s your best productivity hack?

How to be productive is different for each person. For me, the best hack is a combination of two. I write down the three most important daily tasks and do the hardest in the morning, combining the
“Daily Top Three” and “Eat the Frog” methods.

How can I effectively prioritize my tasks?

To effectively prioritize your tasks, use the Eisenhower Matrix to identify important and urgent tasks. Techniques like “Eat the Frog” and the “Two-Minute Rule” can help you prioritize more efficiently.

How can I create a distraction-free workspace?

To create a distraction-free workspace, minimize visual clutter, organize your desk space, use website blockers, and manage ambient noise (like using headphones) to enhance your focus and productivity.

How can I optimize my work schedule?

Identify your peak productivity periods and schedule doing tasks to match your energy levels to optimize your work schedule. You can also use techniques like task batching and time blocking.

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