17 easy productivity hacks that will help you crush it in 2016
A new year is upon us and chances are, you're resolved to being a better person or higher achiever in 2016. And it might not be as hard as it seems.
A few simple tweaks to your routine can make you far more productive — which will really help you crush it in 2016.
Here are 17 simple things you can start doing now (and throughout the year) to set yourself up for success:
1. Wake up earlier.
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This one is easier said than done ... we know. But if you could just get into the habit of waking up 5 to 10 minutes earlier each morning, your life may improve significantly.
"There are plenty of reasons to get up early," writes Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz. "You can work with fewer distractions from family and coworkers. You have time to exercise before appointments get in the way."
2. Be on time.
This tip is personally endorsed by Virgin Group's billionaire founder Richard Branson, who wrote in a LinkedIn post about how being punctual has served him well during his 50 years in business.
Not only is this respectful to your coworkers, friends, or significant other, he says, but it will also help you stick to your day's schedule.
"Once you get behind, it is hard to catch back up again. Being punctual doesn't mean rushing around the whole time," he explains. "It simply means [organizing] your time effectively."
3. Take a mid-morning coffee break.
Research has found that a mid-morning break is essential for your productivity.
A study led by Emily Hunter, Ph.D., and Cindy Wu, Ph.D., at Baylor University, which surveyed 95 employees, found that "the more time that had passed since the beginning of the workday, the less useful a break was," Business Insider reported.
Why? Because you have the most energy and concentration in the morning, so it's easier to replenish such resources a few hours into the day than it would be later.
4. Make a productivity playlist.
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Create a playlist that includes nature sounds (no lyrics) and play it at a medium volume. This can help you stay on task and can even enhance your cognitive functioning, according to an article from Business Insider.
5. Keep energy levels up with exercise and sleep.
If you have time to Netflix and chill, then you have time to exercise and sleep. In a previous article on Business Insider, Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and author of "I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make The Most Of Their Time," said working out in the morning can be more beneficial for your energy levels than getting a few extra minutes of sleep.
However, she also recommends that you get a full seven hours of uninterrupted shut-eye.
6. Take the first flight out.
If you're a frequent flyer, consider taking the early flight out.
Jim Koch, the founder of Samuel Adams Beer, told Business Insider this is one of his go-to strategies. "There is less traffic, the airport is less crowded, flights are generally more reliable, and it usually means I get to spend the night before at home with my family and spend more time in my destination city," he said.
7. Take a minute to make your bed in the morning.
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You're an adult now and you don't have your mom ordering you to make your bed anymore. But you should do it anyway.
It's a "keystone habit" that can spark "chain reactions that help other good habits take hold," he writes.
8. Use the "Rapid Planning Method" from Tony Robbins.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins, who has personally coached former president Bill Clinton, previously told Business Insider we need less movement and more achievement at work.
To start teaching people "to become obsessed with outcomes instead of activities," he came up with three questions that make up his Rapid Planning Method (RPM):
1. What do I want?
2. Why do I want it?
3. What's my massive action plan?
He says using the RPM method is particularly important now because we have so many distractions begging for our attention. "We're just drowning in information; we're starving for wisdom," he said. "And the wisdom comes when you start getting clear about what you want and why you want it."
9. Draw things out on a white board.
Chalkboards may be out of date. But white boards aren't.
She remembers her first manager at Goldman Sachs using a white board for his team, and now she uses one for her team at Solemates.
"It gives us a way to illustrate our short and longer-term goals and have meaningful discussions around tasks that need to get done to accomplish these goals."
10. Download these time-saving apps.
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Technology doesn't have to be a distraction.
Before the new year, download apps from this list of "10 apps you should use every day to be more productive" to help you save time and brain power.
Some of the apps include Slack, a messaging app to communicate and share files internally with coworkers; Wunderlist, a to-do list app that lets you share lists with your colleagues; and Forest, which animates your work progress in the form of a growing tree that fully blooms after 30 minutes of productive work.
11. Organize your computer desktop.
If you can no longer see your desktop wallpaper, you need to spend time cleaning up your icons.
Working on a computer that's littered with old files can negatively affect our productivity, psychologist Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center in Newport Beach, California, told Business Insider.
"A clean desk or desktop can be like taking a deep breath, allowing you to focus," she said.
Use this easy 5-step guide from Rutledge to start 2016 with a clean (digital) slate.
12. Unplug during the weekend.
This tip comes from mother, wife, and small business-owner Susan Petersen, whose baby moccasin and apparel company Freshly Picked was featured on "Shark Tank."
She ditches her email — as well as the company social media accounts — from Friday evening through Monday morning to spend time with her kids and to recharge her batteries, she told Business Insider.
"I always come back to work on Monday feeling recharged and ready to tackle big things when I've had time to relax with my family."
13. Use applications to block distracting websites.
Chances are, you don't have enough willpower to stop yourself from checking Facebook 10 times per day.
Larry Rosen, Ph.D., research psychologist, and author of "iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, previously told Business Insider that we rarely "focus and attend" to any task for more than 3 to 5 minutes before getting distracted (primarily by emails, texts, and social media).
To help eliminate these common distractions, some workers use applications like Selfcontrol or Cold Turkey — both of which block certain distracting websites for a set period of time so you can power through an important task.
14. Get rid of pointless meetings.
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If everyone's in meetings all day, then who's working? No one. That's why cofounder and CEO of Warby ParkerNeil Blumenthal, who averages 15 meetings per 11-hour work day, wrote on LinkedIn that his No. 1 productivity hack is to make meetings "as purposeful, efficient, and productive as possible."
To implement this goal throughout his company, he and his cofounder, Dave Gilboa, came up with the following new meeting rules:
1. No more update meetings — only decision meetings.
2. Relevant information must be shared with meeting attendees in advance.
3. Everyone must do their homework before entering the conference room.
4. No devices.
"We've found that all of the above practices ensure that team members (including me!) spend meeting time actually engaging our brains rather than 'getting on the same page' — which, after all, should be a prerequisite of any meeting, and not a result," he writes.
15. Keep your phone on 'silent' and hide it during work hours.
It's not just answering texts or checking your 'likes' on Instagram that's distracting; it's hearing those alerts.
Why? Think of how you may accidentally write "pizza" in an email instead of "plans" when you're thinking about what to get for lunch, the researches wrote. In the same way, your mind wanders and your brain has to split up its power when you're trying to work on an important task, while also wondering what notification just made your phone buzz or light up.
16. Network while you eat.
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You may be too busy to attend an official networking event, but hopefully you're not too busy to eat a casual lunch with your boss or coworkers.
In a previous article for Business Insider, time-management expert Laura Vanderkam, said this time can help "cement relationships with people you know or would like to get to know better, whether they be employees or people outside your business."
You never know how valuable a few networking lunches will be for your future. Besides, everyone needs to eat.
17. Listen to TED talks on productivity.
Are you unimpressed by the traditional productivity hacks?
Then learn about new, innovative hacks from top field experts by watching their TED talks — specifically on increasing productivity levels.
Business Insider previously published, "8 TED talks that can help you become insanely productive," to save you some time and effort.
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