There’s only so much time in a day, a year, or a life. And who does’t want to be able to do more in a less amount of time. Productivity is hot and booming, but just reading about how to be more productive doesn’t work. In this article I’m sharing my 3 most effective productivity hacks, that can be easily adapted to your personality and working style.
Productivity hacks are a key element in my toolkit. I don’t know about you, but I like to work efficiently (not wasting time) and effectively (focusing on the essential), so that I can not only achieve success in my business but even more so in my overall life experience.
Over the years I’ve tried several things. The 3 most powerful productivity hacks that increased my productivity instantly are by far the ones I’m explaining below*. I call it the ‘1-2-3 framework of success – in business & life’. Adopt these habits and you’ll bring your business & life to the next level!
* Counting on the fact that you’ve got the basics figured out: water, sleep, nutrition, etc.
Productivity Hack 1: to crush it in 2022! – ‘First Things First’
Productivity starts before you jump out of bed. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you watch your phone, give your partner a hug, do you go for a run, or do some meditation. Whatever it is you are doing, it tells me something about the people/things that are important to you. Next to that, what you do first thing in the morning is also setting the tone for the rest of the day.
How different would you feel if you take a moment to hug your partner, instead of looking for the bottom of Facebook? How different would you feel if you go for that run first thing in the morning, instead of opening your email box?
The first time I came across the phrase ‘First things First’ was in the book ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ by Stephen Covey. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s totally worth it! In the book, Stephen Covey is suggesting to divide all your tasks into 4 different groups and staying mainly focused on the 2nd quadrant.
I’ve used it for a while but noticed that slowly more and more often the 1st and 3rd quadrant were slipping in, because well… it’s urgent right? I started losing control and wasn’t working anymore on the most impactful things.
So I’d like to share with you the adapted version that IS working for me, so that you also can turn your struggles into successes. I usually do the following sequence on Sunday evening, so I can start my week off strong, but feel free to find out what works best for you.
First Things First 2.0
Step 1. Think of your biggest struggle (health, finances, relationships, career, etc.)
Step 2. Look at your to-do list (if you don’t have one, think of all the things you said you would be doing today or this week).
Step 3. Now ask yourself: ‘What can I do this week that will have the biggest impact – to resolve this struggle?’
Step 4. Do that first thing in the morning!
And.. you keep doing that! Every day, every morning, until the struggle is gone (or until there is a struggle crossing your path that is more urgent). To give you an example, I’m writing a book, so the first thing I do in the morning is open my computer (keep the Wifi off) and write min. 250 words before I do anything else.
These writing sessions are sometimes as short as 15 minutes, and sometimes as long as 2 hours. But, by doing it first I tell myself (and the people around me!) that this is important to me. Nice side effect – it will be finished way much faster than if I would start with answering emails. Or if I would let other distractions of everyday life decide what I should put my focus on.
First Things First – other examples
This system would work exactly the same with any other goal. You want to lose 10 kg so that you feel confident in that new dress. What would be something you could do first thing in the morning? Something that shows you (and others) how important this is to you? Or you’re unhappy in your relationship. How about focusing on starting each day with a compliment (maybe 2!), instead of complaining.
Remember, the first thing you do in the morning sets the tone for the day! If you go for a run first thing – you’ll feel happy, energized, and proud of yourself for the rest of the day. If you start the day with a compliment, you will see that over time your partner will also want to move to this positive vibe. Who doesn’t want to feel happy?
Stay in control. Make sure that you are the one who decides how your day is going to unfold. Crush those big struggles, one by one!
Productivity Hack 2: to make your day easier! – ‘The Two-Minute Rule’
A couple of years ago I came across the name ‘the two-minute rule’ explained by David Ellen in the book ‘Getting Things Done’. I realized that I’ve (unconsciously) done this productivity hack my whole life. Simply it states the following: “If the thing that you have to do will take you less than two minutes, you do it immediately.”
- “Can you send me the number of that guy we met last week?”
- “Yes, let’s schedule a Zoom call, can you send me the link?”
- “Honey, can you check if my client paid already?”
This might sound like a lot of interruptions throughout my day, but these small tasks only come in, once I close my working slot. Throughout the day I’ve scheduled working slots in which I work uninterruptedly on my biggest task.
Outside of these slots I open my email (only twice a day), I answer all that can be done within 2 minutes. The same counts for my Whatsapp, Facebook, and LinkedIn, anything that takes longer than 2 minutes is considered as a task and comes on my to-do list.
It might look a little bit messy, but I schedule this time in, so I’m totally okay with that. And to be honest, quite often it brings out the creative part in me for new ideas and new connections. Besides that, ending the day with 100 small tasks, now THAT would make me feel messy before ending my day with a good night of sleep.
Productivity Hack 3: to have no regrets! – ‘The Three Most Important Questions’
Even though the first two productivity hacks have improved my life greatly, this third one is my absolute favorite! Sometimes business can take over, especially when you’re a (serial) entrepreneur, but with this tool, you’re sure to focus on the things that matter the most to you.
In the video below Vishen Lakhiani explains his concept of the ‘3 most important questions’. I highly encourage you to watch this and do the short 10-minute exercise (after finishing my blog).
The tool in its origin is meant to describe all the experiences, growth, and contribution you want to have before your final breath. I have a different approach because I feel that this tool is relevant for each and every day of our lives and keeps us focused on the right type of goals so we reach that life of our dreams.
Every morning I ask myself the following 3 questions:
- What do I want to experience today? (love, relationships, adventures, etc)
- How do I want to grow today? (skills, knowledge, etc.)
- How can I contribute to somebody today? (career, creative life, family, community, etc.)
For this morning, that looked like the following…
Conclusion: Productivity Hacks that Work
There are many productivity hacks, tips, and tools out there. As a serial entrepreneur, I’m constantly juggling multiple roles and tons of tasks on a daily basis. This ‘1-2-3 framework of success – in business & life’ is my basic foundation.
Productivity hacks work, but only if they are aligned with your current (or desired!) way of working. I’d suggest you choose one and adopt this as a habit (read more about ‘How to create good habits that stick forever’). Keep doing this for a minimum of 21 days (preferable 90 – new research suggests), and your life will change!
Please share in the comments below what your favorite productivity hack is.
I’d love to hear from you!