Sep 1, 2015  •  14 min read

100 Hacks To Get Things Done – The Ultimate Productivity List

Every day you read about hundreds of different things you should or shouldn’t do.
There are things that are scientifically proven to boost your productivity and other things that you simply have to try out and see if they work for you.

We’ve put together a complete list of things that will boost your productivity.

FOCUS

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

1. Find your biological prime time.
It’s the time when your mind is naturally most focused. Once you know when you work best, schedule some uninterrupted work time accordingly.

2. Stop multitasking.
Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance. Your brain is fully efficient if only focusing on one task at a time.

3. Listen to background music.
Background noise contains no lyrics and helps you to block out distractions, build focus and enhance creative thinking. Here’s a soundscape to get you started.

4. Avoid visual distractions.
Avoid crowded places, places where a lot of people pass by, and any kind of blinking notifications, since our mind is naturally attracted by them.

5. Mute notifications.
Any incoming notification from your phone or computer will easily distract you and raises inattention and hyperactivity. Once distracted it can take you up to 23 minutes to focus again.

6. Block distracting websites.
Block all those sites you know you’re easily distracted by while working. This will help your self-control and prevent you from continuing bad habits. You can use apps such as StayFocusd.

7. Use the Pomodoro Technique.
Prevents burnouts and increases efficiency. Work on just one task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break and repeat. Make a bigger break after 3 sessions. Here is a quick guide.

8. Wear headphones.
Wearing headphones indicates to others that you are busy and it will discourage people to approach and distract you.

9. Lock your door, put a sign up.
Make it clear that you don’t want to be distracted and simply let others know about it.

10. Chew gum.
Gum increases the flow of oxygen keeping you more alert and maintaining longer focus. Check out more.

11. Apply the spider technique.
Learn to not pay attention to distractions and train yourself in different situations. If you get easily distracted by people entering the room, try to ignore them by maintaining the focus on your task.

12. Doodle.
It helps you to focus, increase your creativity and to better retain information.

13. Save things to a “Read Later” list.
If while working you stumble upon interesting articles you would like to read, save them for later, so you can free your mind and keep your focus on the actual task. You can use apps like Pocket.

14. Have a “Stop Doing” list.
Write down time-wasting habits you want to stop and write down things you should do instead.

15. Have a “Distraction” list.
Make a list of all the things that pop up in your mind other than the work you’re doing, and dedicate time to them once you’re done.

16. Use sticky notes as reminders.
Visual reminders will help your brain to memorise and keep the focus on the right things.

17. Set a “No Meetings” day.
It enables you and your team to have a free mind and focus on your work thanks to some uninterrupted work time.

18. Schedule a time when you read your email.
Setting a specific time will keep the rest of your day email free and thus improve your focus.

19. Unplug.
Turn off mobile phone, close your email and route your office calls to the voicemail to avoid distractions.

20. Schedule 1-2 hours just for yourself.
Having a scheduled block of uninterrupted work time, will allow you to fully focus on your tasks.


FOOD

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

21. Start your day with a rich breakfast.
It will give you the right energy and improve your concentration. Vitamin B rich food, healthy carbohydrates and low-fat protein is the way to go.

22. Drink 2-3 litre of water per day.
Being well-hydrated will give you more energy and improve your mental clarity.

23. Eat food with a low glycemic index.
Low glycemic food release glucose gradually and not all at once, keeping the glucose level in your bloodstream more constant and thus keeping you alert and productive for a longer period of time. Tip: eat a banana.

24. Eat “brain” food.
Blueberries, nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, avocados, fish and dark chocolate are great to boost your brainpower. Here’s our guide.

25. Smell citrus.
Scents such as lemon stimulate alertness and revitalise the senses, making you also calmer and kinder.

26. Smell herbs.
Rosemary is perfect for the morning to fight physical exhaustion; cinnamon improves focus and concentration; peppermint boosts energy and clear thinking.
We made a guide of 10 powerful herbs here.

27. Drink green tea.
Green tea contains caffeine and theanine that will improve your accuracy and your ability to focus.

28. Get enough magnesium.
Magnesium improves learning and memory. Try some pumpkin seeds, cacao or sesame seeds.

29. Drink coffee strategically.
Drink coffee between 09:30-11:30 AM and 1:30-5:00 PM when your natural cortisol level drops.

30. Eat enough fibres.
Fibres keep your energy levels uniform and help you to be more alert.


MOTIVATION

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

31. Divide big tasks into small tasks.
Doing this will not only make the task more concrete and actionable, but it also makes it seem smaller and easier to start.

32. Tackle the worst task first.
Also called “Eat the frog“, this will give you a sense of relief and energise you for the rest of your tasks.

33. Make verbal commitments.
Telling others about your commitments will give you an extra kick of motivation to not break them.

34. Have a “Don’t Break the Chain” calendar.
Set a task, do a little bit every day an mark an X on your calendar. This will make your progress visible and motivate you to not break the chain!

35. Cross off things from your To-Do list.
Every time you cross a task off your list, the “happy chemical” dopamine gets released, giving you the motivation to move to the next task.

36. Plan a reward.
Planning a reward gives you the needed energy and motivational boost in order to complete your task. Gamification badges are great for teams.

37. Create an inspirational board.
Put up a board for quotes, pictures, goals or something you love. It will make you feel inspired and remind you about your goals.

38. Look at photos of nature or cute animals for a few minutes.
Studies show that it enhances careful behaviour and improves fine-tuned attention.

39. Make more friends at the office.
Office friendships increase your job satisfaction by an average of 50% and make you 7x more engaged at work.

40. Plan something fun for the weekend.
Having something to look forward to will give you energy and motivation throughout the whole week.

41. Make your bed.
Making your bed first thing in the morning means you successfully accomplished the first task of the day, motivating you and helping you to build other good habits.

42. Less is more – watch your working hours.
Working more than 50 hours per week, will produce no greater results than people who work less.

43. Just get started.
Starting is often the greatest obstacle. If you tell yourself you will work on it for just 5 minutes, you will end up getting more things done that you thought.

44. Find a mentor.
Having somebody to look up to is motivating and highly inspiring.

45. Have a positive attitude.
Besides boosting your energy level, it will make you more proactive, curious and rise your performance.


TIME MANAGEMENT

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

46. Make a To-Do list.
Writing things down will help you to get an overview and help you prioritise your tasks. Here’s a guide.

47. Start every task with a verb.
Have on your To-Do list only actionable and precise instructions on what to do. E.g. Call Tim, Write the report etc.

48. Set a deadline for each task.
Having a deadline and limiting the timeframe for each task will allow you to focus and get things done faster. (Parkinson’s Law)

49. Do everything that takes less than 2 minutes, right away
This will free your mind and keep your To-Do list lean. Check our guide.

50. Delegate and follow the 70% rule.
If 70% of something can be done by someone else, just delegate it.

51. Automate daily and weekly tasks
If you have recurring tasks, find a way how to automise them in order to save time. IFTTT is a great service to help you optimise tasks.

52. Set a weekly goal.
Weekly goals keep you motivated and focused during your week.

53. Plan your day ahead.
Starting the day with a clear plan in mind reduces stress and helps you to focus on the right things.

54. Set a time frame to meetings.
Having a fixed timeframe for a meeting will force everybody to focus on the important things to discuss about.

55. Use waiting time for small tasks.
Such gaps are great for answering quick emails, reaching out to somebody or read the news.

56. Track your time.
Knowing where your time goes will help you to act on it and save more time in the future. RescueTime is a great app to help you track your time.

57. Do similar tasks together.
It helps you to optimise your time instead of wasting it by switching between those tasks throughout your day.

58. Do email response batching.
Schedule exact times when you are answering to emails. In-between just delete spam and check if something is urgent.

59. Handle pieces of paper only once.
What’s done is done. If you start with a task, try to finish it.

60. Dictate.
Use dictation, it’s 4x faster than writing. Use a dictation app like Dragon Dictation to help you put down your thoughts faster.

61. Improve your typing speed.
Having great typing skills will help you to be more efficient when writing reports or emails.

62. Learn speed reading.
It’s a challenge for the brain to perform better, thus it improves memory and the ability to build focus. Use an app like Spritz.

63. Have an email autoresponder.
Adopting an email autoresponder will reduce your urge to respond immediately and thus lowering your stress level.

64. Store your files in the cloud.
Having your files in the cloud provides an easy and fast access to your documents wherever you are. A great service is Dropbox.

65. Ritualise the end of each project.
Once a project is done, update your To-Do list, sort and file the related documents in order to start the next task with a clear mind.


ACTIVITIES

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

66. Start working out.
Working out improves your cognitive function, reduces the reclining memory process and regulates your blood sugar regulation, making you more energised.

67. Stretch your body.
Small exercises boost hyper oxygenation in your brain giving you energy and making you more efficient. Take the stairs, walk to a farther bathroom, do small stretches and stand up periodically.

68. Train your brain.
Play some brain games to help you train your memory and your ability to focus. Lumosity is a great app for that.

69. Read for 6 minutes a day.
It can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.

70. Play video games.
Challenges and achievements release dopamine and testosterone which are great for motivation, energy and mood.

71. Hit a pressure point.
Hitting acupressure points like placing your finger under the top head of the shinbone (on the dip) or between your nose and upper lip, increase your energy level as well as mental alertness.

72. Practice yoga.
Practicing yoga will reduce your stress level, thus making you more productive.

73. Splash your face with cold water.
Cold water stimulates blood circulation giving you a energy boost.

74. Breathe regularly.
Don’t hold your breath while reading emails or while being focused. Remember to breathe normally in order to allow oxygen flow to your brain.

75. Do a power pose.
An expansive body posture will help you to put your mind into the right state of mind and boost your motivation.


ENVIRONMENT

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

76. Wear “work clothes”.
Putting on the right clothes will make switch your mind switch into work mood and make you establish the right attitude.

77. Feel safe and comfortable.
It fuels your performance and ensures you have the energy to create some valuable work. Feeling unsafe makes you worry and not work efficiently.

78. Set the office thermostat to 70-72°F (21–22ºC).
Any temperature above 73ºF (23°C) or below 68°F (20°C) decreases your productivity by 10%. Get more insights.

79. Sit up straight.
It has a positive impact on your mood and your energy level. Put your monitor at eye level and your keyboard at elbow level.

80. Use a standing desk.
Standing transmits a sense of urgency allowing you to be focused on the completion of your task.

81. Decorate your desk with things you like.
Having things you like around you, positively affect your work performance.

82. Have a plant on your desk.
Having plants nearby increases productivity by 12 percent, helping you to complete tasks with more focus and efficiency while improving also your indoor air quality.

83. Use room scents.
It will positively influence your mood and mindset. Lavender and peppermint are great for relaxation and a positive mood.

84. Clean your desk when you’re leaving the office.
Chaos and clutter distract you and limit your ability to focus and to process information.

85. Take advantage of the sunlight.
Natural light reduces the production of melatonin and thus making you more alert. A high exposure to daylight will increase not just alertness but also increase your mood and overall performance.

86. Use the right working light.
Using blue-enriched white light (17 000 K) has a significant improvement in alertness, mood, performance and concentration. It will also reduce evening fatigue, irritability, sleepiness and eye discomfort.

87. Use the right colours.
Surround yourself with blue and green colours. They are great for productivity while yellow colours increase creativity.

88. Change your location.
It can help you to get unstuck and fuel your motivation.

89. Seek out for a calm space.
Loud colleagues are the number one distraction among office workers. Seek out places that are less noisy and where you get less interrupted by co-workers.

90. Sit next to a window with a view.
Looking at natural landscapes, a tree or intricate architecture has restorative benefits and will recharge your mind.


REST

100 Hacks To Get Things Done - The Ultimate Productivity List - Noisli Blog

91. Follow your body’s circadian rhythm.
It will help you to be more alert and to soak up information faster. The highest alertness is typically at 10:00 AM. Use f.lux to help you adjust your screen colour according to day and night time.

92. Sleep 7-9 hours.
Sleep is the biological maintenance task. Lack of sleep negatively impacts mood, ability to focus, and ability to access higher-level cognitive functions. Apps like Sleep Cycle help you to wake you up at the best time.

93. Take a break of 17 minutes every 50-90 minutes.
Due to the ultradian rhythm you move from higher to lower alertness. Having short breaks away from your desk will clear your head and let you return to work more fresh and engaged.

94. Take a power nap.
Naps boost cognition, memory, performance, reaction times and alertness.
10-20 minutes naps are best to boost focus and productivity. Here’s a guide.

95. Spend 20 minutes a day in nature.
Nature has the power to improve your vitality, memory, creativity and also your cognitive function.

96. Meditate for 10 minutes.
It helps you to de-stress and refocus energies. Good occasions are in the morning, during lunch break, at the end of the workday and before going to bed. Headspace is a great app to get you started.

97. Rest your eyes.
Follow the 20-20-20 rule. Look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at a distant object (at least 20 feet away) for at least 20 seconds.

98. Surf the web for 10 minutes.
It will help you to stay up to date with news and family, make you feel refreshed and ultimately boost your productivity.

99. Get 2 minutes of fresh air every hour.
Increased oxygen boosts your energy level. Open a window or go for a walk outside.

100. Slow down.
Stop, slow down and start doing things deliberately. It will help you to manage your attention, instead of running blind from one task to another.


WHAT’S NEXT?

Grab a piece of paper and write down 5-10 points you want to implement right now in your work life.
Most of them are very easy to follow and it is just a matter of being conscious and having the right mindset to actually improve your productivity.


For any suggestions or comments please write us at hello (at) noisli (dot) com.

– Your Noisli Team








Sabine
Sabine Co-founder at Noisli
@sabinestaggl




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