Struggling to get things done is something we all go through. When your productivity is taking a hit, your finances inevitably do too.The more productive you are, the more money you’re likely to make and the more organized you are, the more organized your finances will be.
The following productivity hacks are some simple ways to better your work life and keep yourself organized!
Keep your inbox clean
A cluttered mess of e-mails can be overwhelming. Keeping your inbox clean, organized, and ultimately, empty is a great way to stay on top of your correspondence. Here’s a few ways I like to keep my e-mail free of clutter:
- Unsubscribe from promotional and/or marketing emails. These usually just get in the way, or suck you into spending money that you really don’t need to be.
- Delete any emails before the last in a long, conversational email change. The previous email should be quoted when someone replied, so you don’t need to keep it!
- Create folders! This is probably my favourite method for staying organized. I like to create folders/labels to manage e-mails for different jobs, aspects of my job, and other things like bills and/or receipts. Use colour coding to add some extra readability to your inbox.
Do your least favourite task first
This is a hack I learned early, and thankfully so. Doing the “worst first” is a good way to motivate yourself to work through your to-do list. I made this a habit a few years ago when I read the book Eat That Frog, which insisted you should “eat your ugliest/biggest frog first” which just means to tackle the largest and most unpleasant item on your to do list right away.
Use the 2 minute rule!
This tip is simple: if a task will take you less than 2 minutes to do, just get it done now rather than later. It is actually embarrassing how many things I’ve procrastinated for no reason except that I could, only to leave myself with a crazy workload at the end of day.
Something like a simple e-mail response, a quick edit to something I’m writing, or even booking a meeting, take 2 minutes or less and doing them as soon as I think of them makes my life so much easier! Avoid piling up a to-do list of tiny tasks and instead just get them done ASAP. My productivity levels remain high when I do this as I’m not bogged down by my most menial work!
Most jobs will have some or many tasks that are mundane, and if you can do them in batches, you will save yourself oodles of time. This is akin to simply doing a load of laundry instead of watching each item of clothing individually as you wear it throughout the week.
Need to upload a lot of documents to a cloud? Wait until you have a batch and do them all together. Need to coordinate some items for an event? Wait until you can block of a bit of time in your schedule and do everything in one go.
Batching boosts your productivity by having you focus on one activity rather than continuously interrupting your flow by switching gears. Not only is it more efficient, it’s much less exhausting and stressful than doing different things one at a time.
Know your energy cycle
Last but not least, it is so important to know your energy cycle. I am a morning person. I generally function at my maximum between 8am-11am. So, I always try to schedule my most daunting (or least favourite) tasks during these hours.
I always schedule my most mundane tasks that require the least amount of brainpower for the end of my workday. Things like clearing out my inbox and organizing my agenda are left to do at the end of the day when my productivity is dwindling.
There’s no point in in slugging your way through a to-do list that would take you less time at your peak productivity when you’re sluggish and ready for some relaxation. Try your best to take a couple work weeks of tracking your productivity so you can develop a work schedule that benefits your energy cycle.
Breaks are especially important for productivity
This is something you must remember. Once you’ve thought through your energy cycle, ensure you schedule time for breaks. You can’t work properly without a few moments to take a deep breath, eat a snack, and boost your mood!
Avoiding burn out is essential
And these productivity hacks will help you do so. By keeping your work life clear in your mind, and setting yourself up for success in a way that is personal to you, you are bound to care for yourself and your work in the best way possible.
Try these productivity hacks and see the positive way your work, personal life, and finances respond!
For the first one about emails, I used to do something similar where I’d sort them into “action required” or whatnot, but I found the easiest method is to basically leave that email in my Inbox, and if it can be done right away (@TakeAction), I do the task immediately, then archive the email.
If I am waiting for a response or need it there to remind me, I just leave that email in my Inbox until it’s completed, then I archive it.
The email in my Inbox serves as a constant reminder of what I have to get done / what I am waiting for. If it is something that I want to keep but not necessarily see all the time, then I star / flag it.
Great tips and I completely agree with #6.
I follow a similar method to the @ActionRequired or @Awaiting Response: basically I leave the email in my regular Inbox until it’s been fully dealt with and only at that point do I file it into the appropriate folder. Having it staring me in the face keeps it on my radar. I also use calendar reminders to follow up with items a few days later…I’ll set the Email as a calendar “event” so that it’s there and I can follow up/action it as necessary.
I also agree 100% about knowing your energy levels throughout the day! I’m also a morning person and use that time to focus on my hardest work first thing. I also find keeping a schedule makes me more productive since I know what I’m up to and don’t waste time bumbling around.
Great post, Bridget!
I used to leave everything in my inbox, but I swear to you the @Action Required and @Awaiting Response method is so much better… just something about an empty inbox feels so much better!
Calendar reminders are a good idea too. I don’t do anything like that, just have set times of day to power through my @Action Required folder.
I have a hard time managing my email inboxes since I have so many of them (work, blog, personal). I love the ideas of how to manage them, but every time I try to do something like that I get lazy and stop labelling them or putting the emails in folders, so they end up a big mess again in no time.
ME TOO — which is why I was so excited about the @Action Required and @Awaiting Response folders, because I found I could make those consistent across every single inbox.
I try to keep <5 folders in my emails because I don't like to "over-organize" things and I also find that reduces the stress!
Ditto what others have said. I leave things in my inbox until I don’t need to do anything for them. Then they get archived according to what they’re all about. I can do it for my blog email because it’s not as busy as my work email, but my work email is disgustingly chaotic. Thankfully they have search features! 🙂
bahaha my blog email was such a disaster it took me DAYS to sort through it. Now it’s finally organized and I LOVE it. Piles and piles of stress fell off my shoulders once the blog email was sorted out.
How do you organize your emails if you only have max 5 folders?
How did you create the energy level chart? Do you just keep notes about your energy levels at any given time of the day?
Great tips! I need to implement the @Action Required and @Awaiting Response folders. I try to keep Inbox Zero, but it’s difficult with emails that require action in the near future!
I just tracked it based on how I feel and what I get done throughout the day! I can definitely tell my most productive times based on when I accomplish what at work and at home haha
Nice! Btw, I just started using @Action Required and @Awaiting Response folders, and I LOVE them. Thanks for the tip 🙂
right?? so not the same as leaving everything in your inbox until it’s done!! Changes everything!!!
Great tips! I totally agree with the zero email in my inbox. I always “TRY” to keep it a minimum as much as possible because seeing too many emails in my inbox puts me into panic mode.
I also give myself a mental schedule of what I need to do for the day: i.e. the tasks that I MUST complete before I leave work.
This tops whatever previous favorite post of yours I had…this is very helpful. Thanks!
OMG I just implemented #1 and #2 this week and it has been life changing! I always sweat slash stress when my email inbox starts to pile up but had never been able to think of a good system to manage this. I am banging out work at an amazing pace this week! Thanks for posting, and my employer I’m sure will thank you too!
isn’t it crazy? I couldn’t believe how much a difference it made — it’s like having a folder that is just a to-do list. So glad you found it helpful!!
I tend to do the worst, least desirable task somewhere in the middle of my day, where I have done a few things I wanted to do first. I wonder if it’s to put me in a good mood before I take on the worst one. I try not to leave it as the last thing because I’ll just be dreading to do it the whole day.
Thank you for the productivity tips Bridget!