20 Productivity Hacks to Make Your Day Easier


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We are all looking for that one magic trick that will make our days feel effortless, but the harsh truth is that there is no single path to being productive. Sometimes productivity hacks work for a little while before they fall short, and other times, they just don’t work from the get-go. The good news though is that there is no shortage of productivity hacks out there that we can build into our lives to advance our journey. Between navigating through all of our various roles in life—in our careers and personal lives—there is always a long list of things to do, but rest assured, out of these 20 productivity hacks, you can find a few that stick and make most (if not all) of your days way easier.

1. Use your commute productively

Whether your commute consists of heading into the office or venturing to your favorite coffee shop for the day, there are ways to make the most of your time spent between home and work. How can this time work for you? Is it a quick call to check in on a parent? Or five minutes of listening to a new podcast and some deep breathing? Even if this time is short, using it intentionally is a satisfying way to start and end the day.

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2. Clean out your email

Yes, clean it out. All the way! Get rid of half-done replies, drafts that won’t go anywhere, and sale notifications you didn’t happen to shop your way through. Even just 30 dedicated minutes on a Friday morning of filing, unsubscribing, and getting responses off your plate in both your personal and work emails will send you into a weekend feeling refreshed.

3. Prioritize your tasks

Prioritization sounds easy, but it isn’t always simple. To really prioritize, don’t just make a list of tasks that need to be done and check off the “biggest,” “hardest,” or even “easiest.” Instead, think of your day as a set of building blocks that all need to fit together. Where’s the causality? What needs to be done first to make the rest of the day or week move better? Using this more connected method of prioritizing also helps us overcome some of the resistance we have around tough tasks.

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4. Use the Pomodoro method

The Pomodoro Method’s little tomato timer is a fan favorite for a reason! It’s proven that our brain feels more refreshed and focused when we can work in bursts. Set a timer, pick a mini project or task, and then shamelessly give yourself built-in breaks to recharge and come back strong.

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5. Ignore your email in the morning

If this one feels uncomfortable, try it boldly for just one week and see what it does for your productivity. It’s a natural inclination to want to respond and jump on tasks when we see an email. Starting your day diving right into the piles of emails you have means that your inbox becomes your prioritization list—in control of you instead of the other way around. Consider blocking an hour to check emails a little later in the morning, and instead, start your day with your priorities.

6. Understand your work zones

Matching the type of work that needs to be done with where you do it is one of the smartest productivity hacks. Do you do your best number crunching at a structured desk or the kitchen table? Or maybe your best creative ideas come to you when you’re on a walk and can let your mind reset. Either way, knowing when and where you are at your best for all of your various tasks can be a real productivity boost and help with your work-life balance.

7. Strategically leverage your “OOO” message

Who says your OOO autoresponder is just for vacation? Get creative with this autoresponder and use it for targeted projects. “I’m on a special project right now, and my mornings this week (9-12 a.m.) will be dedicated to that effort. Please contact me outside of those hours for the most timely response.” Push the boundaries by setting some of your own.

8. Scope your day the night before

Scoping your day is different from planning. When you’re scoping your day, you’re mentally preparing yourself for the various waves of energy and effort you’ll need throughout the day. Can you shift an important call to the morning when you’re feeling fresher? Should you see if a friend can help with after-school pick-up if your meeting runs over? Being able to do this assessment the night before a full schedule gives you more options to manage and rearrange the day.

9. Reduce small distractions

Every little ping, buzz, and blink takes us away from our full mental focus. Get in tune with what nudges kick you out of your zone each day. Is it a blinking instant message? Set a few hours of Do Not Disturb. Does the buzz of the office floor catch your ear? Headphones, please! You may even find that a dimmed-out room (and some blue light glasses!) helps you zone in on a key project or task, without other visual distractions.

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10. Set up a social media blocker

There are all kinds of useful apps and sites to help us control our social media consumption. Almost more important than helping corral its use is to figure out when and why you turn to it during the day. Do you find yourself reaching for a “scroll” when you’ve hit a tough part of a task? When you’re lacking some motivation? Or when you’re burned out and need a break? Understanding your “why” will do an even bigger job of helping you reorient to productive mode.

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11. Book time for self-care

Forgive me for being cliche, but you and I both know that you can’t pour from an empty cup. And before you say that you don’t have time to fill up your own because you are too busy with everything else going on in your life, allow me to kindly stop you right there. There are so many mini acts of self-care that we can fit into our day-to-day, no matter our schedule, that really can make all the difference in our ability to give our all in our personal and professional lives. Think about what little moments throughout your day you can upgrade or romanticize so you look forward to them even more: is it your morning coffee or your walk around the block after work? Treat yourself to a new mug or put on a meditation, for example, so when you’re having a hard day, you have these pockets of self-care to look forward to and keep you going.

12. Find ways to habit stack

Habit stacking was made popular by the book Atomic Habits, which helps you link new things you want to accomplish to existing habits in order to up the chances of getting them done. You’ll start to view your new habit goals in a whole new way when you think about the small ways you can link them together to be more productive.

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13. Know your personal bandwidth triggers

We all know what our personal “running on empty” looks like. The hack is to know how to recognize it before it completely sneaks up on you. Do you start rubbing your eyes a little more? Do you get distracted and start poking through your old photo reel? Whatever your personal trigger is, that means you’ve hit top capacity on your bandwidth—become friends with her, and watch out for her more regularly. When she greets you during your usual 3 p.m. slump, identify ways in which you can recharge before you burn out. This might look like taking a short break by going for a 10-minute walk outside with your dog or actually getting up from your desk to refill your Stanley. This could also look like reviewing your to-do list for the rest of the day, getting real with yourself about what you can get done, and making a new list that’s more realistic given your bandwidth.

14. Don’t say yes right away

People pleasing is a slippery slope, but the more you say “yes” to others, the less you can say “yes” to yourself. Instead of agreeing to someone’s request right away, take a moment to consider if committing to their need will mean that you can’t commit to other tasks or priorities that are important to you. For example, if you say “yes” to working on a project with a teammate, is it going to put you back with your own workload or can you help them and manage your work without experiencing burnout? If you can’t, the answer should be a kind but firm “no.”

15. Trust your natural rhythms

No matter how many TikTok morning routines we watch with a fresh-faced gal bouncing out of bed for her green juice and jaunting off to yoga, we may never be a morning person. And that’s OK! In fact, it has nothing to do with our motivation level at that time of day and everything to do with our chronotype, which refers to our natural disposition to feel alert or sleepy at certain times of the day and night. Morning people are considered “Larks,” night owls are considered “Owls,” and those that land somewhere in between are considered “Third Birds.” Understanding your chronotype and mapping out your day according to your natural rhythm is the productivity hack that will help you get your best work done.

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16. Find a planning system that works for you

Productivity never happened without a system. That doesn’t mean that you have to string together some ultra-high-tech collection of apps, trackers, and planners. It does mean that you need a consistent way to organize your life tasks so you can get to the goals that matter to you. Whether that’s through a gorgeous paper planner that feels more like a journal or a minimal but comprehensive app to tackle your to-do list, find your sport.

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17. Break your long-term goals down into daily tasks

Goals aren’t happening unless they’re broken down into mini-objectives and tackled a bit at a time. Take running a marathon for example—you’re not going to just get up and do it one day (or maybe you will, and if that’s the case, you go girl!). But by breaking your big goals up into daily tasks, your long-term goals become more achievable. In this example, running three miles per day can help you build up to five, 10, and 20. So instead of overwhelming yourself with the bigger picture, consider how you can tackle mini goals to help you achieve your bigger goals one day at a time.

18. Communicate your productivity objectives

We all do better in achieving our productivity goals when we’ve shared them with someone else. This can be formal, as in telling your boss or colleagues what you’re up to this week, or it can just be chatting with a loved one about what’s on your plate lately. Externalizing what we’re doing and what we need to get a job done is a huge part of productively working through our task list.

19. Take moments to pause and reflect

Whenever you find yourself moving speedily through a task and buzzing on to the next thing, take a step back from what you’re doing. While it might seem counterintuitive to slow down when you’re eager to get your list of to-dos done, you’re more likely to increase your productivity by taking breaks. Not only will you get a much-needed breather, but pausing and reflecting on your work can show you where you might be missing things or give you more ideas and inspiration for tackling your end goal. Not to mention, a “go go go” mentality can lead to overbooking your days, making mistakes, and losing track of your timelines.

20. Define your own personal productivity metrics

I used to think that being productive meant doing more work in a shorter amount of time, but productivity is actually more about doing the best job, at the right time, with the right resources, and for the right objectives to get to the best outcome. “How much” we checked off our list doesn’t matter as much as how productively we used our energy in a day, matching it with the things that matter the most. As you move through your workload, it’s a good idea to define what a productive day will look like for you. Is it getting your top five tasks done before clocking out, or is it having enough time to steadily read through all your emails and get a massage on your lunch break? Your day will look different every day—allow this to happen instead of forcing yourself through priorities, and you’ll be amazed at how much you get done and how well you feel after.