Welcome to Productivity-Increasing Mind Hacks – Part 2! Hopefully you’ve gained some great ideas from part 1 already and are ready for the next 9 hacks.
If you are new to this you can still access part 1 here.
Mind Hack #10: Get Dressed for Work
Getting dressed for success has a similar effect.
Sure, you can lounge around in your pajamas all day if you want…
But there’s no pride in that. Act like a slob and you will feel, and work, like one.
Try getting up to take a shower, make yourself look put-together, and put on at least casual business clothes. It just gives your morning routine a serious air and leaves you feeling like a professional.
Rituals like this have a profound effect on how you take on the day…
And the results you get over time.
Mind Hack #11: Put Yourself in the Right Headspace on Command
Speaking of rituals…
A technique for getting yourself primed for work fast is to use the same exact set up of steps, or ritual, every time you sit down in front of your computer.
Here’s an example.
- Set out your coffee or tea, so you don’t have to get up again.
- Lock doors, or set out a “hard at work” sign if needed.
- Place a notepad beside your computer (see Hack #16).
- Sit down.
- Write down 5 things you intend to accomplish when you open your computer. So there’s no question what you’ll be focused on.
- Open your computer.
- Log in to any programs you’ll be using. Open any docs.
- Put in your headphones and start your “work music” – for me it’s usually binaural beats, meditation music, or smooth jazz. It probably doesn’t matter as long as it’s consistent.
- Mark down your starting time or start your timer.
- Start working.
Again, it’s all about training your brain. You want your subconscious mind to recognize this as a primer to switching on the right gear.
Follow the same steps every time, like a pilot enacting a launch sequence.
Eventually that mode switch comes faster and faster.
Mind Hack #12: Track Your Time
Track your time or work to a timer to train your brain for focused sprints with no getting off task.
You can keep your work blocks short at first and make them longer as the habit normalizes.
Tracking what you’re actually doing with your time, or where you might be wasting time, also creates opportunities to improve your metrics. You can’t know what you’re doing wrong if you don’t record what you’re actually doing.
You can use a simple spreadsheet for work tracking. Or a notepad.
Record date, time started, time finished, and what tasks you worked on.
If you want to create accountability here, pair up with a friend to share work tracking in the same spreadsheet on Google Drive.
Or track actual computer use, work-related or not, with FocusMe’s handy tracking tool, which presents a colored graph of where your online time goes.
Great trick for spotting problem areas with very little effort.
Mind Hack #13: Batch Multitasking
In general, multitasking is a bad idea.
It really bogs down your brain and makes you far less effective.
However, reality often doesn’t give a choice, and we’ve all got a handful of bite-sized tasks that we need to address eventually.
Give your brain a break on this one – but don’t let them creep into work blocks!
The best way is to reserve multi-tasking time specifically for these tasks. Keep a list of small things you need to do, hit a timer, and just start knocking them off.
Do it once a day or a few times a week.
Valuable deep work time should always be protected just for deep work.
Mind Hack #14: Schedule (and Limit) Your Email
Don’t ever let email checking become a reactive activity!
If you do, the part of your brain that craves being told what to do will have you checking into email a few times per hour to see if anything important comes in. This leaves you chasing unimportant but urgent tasks and allows way too many potential digital distractions in.
Email is a simple one to solve, thankfully.
Just give yourself 30 minutes, twice a day – less times or more, depending on your industry needs, but it SHOULD be set in stone.
No emails outside that time. Period.
Face it: for most of us, the world will NOT stop if an email sits half a day waiting for an answer.
You can also use web blocking software to set email limits using technology that will lock you out if you keep getting carried away. Our productivity software comes with a Launch Limit feature perfect for focus-friendly email management.
Mind Hack #15: Put a Dial on Your Social Media Time Too
If email is a dangerous foe, social media is the “boss battle” for freelancers and online workers everywhere.
And make no mistake, social media has a massive impact on your brain and the way you think.
Studies show that too much social media time actually trains your brain for obsessive, info-snacking behavior that has radical implications for your focus time even when you’re logged out.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to stop letting social media take over without opting out completely.
How much social media do you actually need? Probably not that much.
Just designate a social media hour at night to touch bases, make a couple posts, and check your messages. Include One QUICK check in the morning if you really feel it’s crucial.
But you DO need to set rules on this.
You can even use a web blocker to cut yourself off social media during the day when you’re supposed to be working.
Mind Hack #16: Keep a “Distraction Release Valve” Beside Your Computer
If you’ll be researching during online work time, you need a proven way to avoid following distraction rabbits down their bottomless holes.
After all, who hasn’t innocently clicked a tempting link – just for a sec, mind you – only to end up spending the rest of the day reading up on some wild conspiracy theory or collecting silly cat photos?
Even if you aren’t surfing the web, those little to-dos that pop into your mind can really dilute your focus.
A great way to deal with these potential detours and mind burps is keep a small notepad beside your computer. I call this the distraction release valve.
Use it to jot down topics you want to research later, ideas you want to explore, or little quick to-dos. Anything that would otherwise drag you off track.
Then you can come back later when you’re done working and take care of them.
You’ll often find that after a bit of time passes, they don’t seem all that pressing anymore.
Let Future You be the judge of that, though.
Mind Hack #17: Get Real with People You Talk to Online
I’m talking about real interaction – video and voice calls.
It might seem counterintuitive to get more productive by jumping on a call…But there are plenty of reasons it keeps your brain on a tightly focused track.
For one, thing, email and chatting grinds up a lot of unnecessary time simply because we talk faster than we write – not to mention all the nuances that get missed in text-based communication and require clarification.
Sometimes it’s easier to just pick up the phone for a quick 5-minute call to get the point across.
Also, voice and video communication just feel more “real.” So you feel less alone and keep your work at home grounded in the real world.
Overall great for your emotional health.
Mind Hack #18: Stop Work and Get Your Blood Flowing
Want to keep the engines of your mind burning clean?
Rev up the engines in your body.
The human animal was born to move!
Do a set of pushups or jumping jacks if you find yourself getting bored, burnt out, or uncreative. Split your day in half with a workout or quick run.
Even long slow walks (for those of us who can get out of the house that long) can be great for giving the mind a relief from the screen. Take in the scenery and give your subconscious a chance to chew on things.
I can’t tell you how many times just setting down a difficult problem and going for a walk allowed my subconscious to hit me with the answer out of the blue.
Some of history’s greatest creative minds swore by this trick.
For more hacks, part 3 will be available on Friday 24 April.