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21 of the Best Productivity Tips for Work

There’s no need to be like Lucy in the chocolate factory. With a few simple productivity tips for work, you can stay ahead of every piece of chocolate, and get more time back to enjoy life. So today, I’ll share a few of my favorite ways to improve your marketing productivity.

Discover Marketing Productivity Tips for Work

1. Make a prioritized to do list

The best way to save time is to ensure you’re doing the right work to begin with. Basically, all goals are not created equal. For example, imagine your marketing team has two goals for the quarter. One is to hit a revenue number and the other is to launch a rebrand. If you do the second and not the first, you definitely will not be happy — and you might not even be in business.

On a daily basis, it’s really hard to keep that context in mind as you’re figuring out what to do. Using the Eisenhower Matrix, also referred to as Urgent-Important Matrix, is a simple way to accommodate for this. It helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance, sorting out less urgent and important tasks which you should either delegate or not do at all.

This also ensures you don’t forget your work! Because recent studies show that average working memory capacity is only three to five items, anything more than that is bound to fall out of your brain. But by putting it in one place at the start of the week, you’ll be sure to remember it.

Try this prioritization tool to use the Eisenhower matrix method, because you can create a prioritized game plan. As an added bonus, you can even use it with your teammates, which will cut out all the time you spend communicating with them about what you’ve finished (yay webinar landing page) and when they’ll get the thing (hello webinar email) they need from you.

2. Set mini goals

Mini goals are like mini horses, such as Sebastian, but better.

In an article about the Goal-Setting Theory published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology, author and professor of Organizational Effectiveness, Gary Latham shares that specific goals incite effort, which is another cornerstone of motivation.

So a great way to get things done is to set mini-goals, especially when the project feels big or intimidating to you. Basically, you chunk up the work of a project into smaller bite-size tasks. This is sometimes called microproductivity.

So for example, if you needed to write a triggered marketing email, goal number one could be to get the body paragraphs done; the second goal could be to write the headline; the third could be the subject line; and the fourth could be getting and addressing feedback.

Then, you reward yourself for each mini-goal you finish. A reward can be as small as checking your phone and social media, taking a trip to the bathroom, chatting on Slack for a bit, or getting a drink of water, and as big as indulging in a piece of your favorite cake or watching the next episode of your favorite.

3. Type faster

Along the same lines, something that impacts nearly everything you do is your typing speed. Imagine it’s 7AM and you have a 1,500 word blog post to write. If you type 50 words-per-minute (WPM) you could be done in just half an hour. But if you type at just 10 WPM, the same post would take you two and a half hours to finish. That time quickly adds up!

The fastest recorded typist was a woman named Stella Pajunas who typed 216 WPM on an IBM electronic typing machine in 1946. That’s unimaginable for most of us. While the average typing speed is roughly 40 WPM, aiming for 60 to 80 wpm is a good bet.

Start by taking a typing test to see where you fall. And then, if it’s not where you want to be, practice your typing skills.

4. Use shortcuts

On of the best ways to get work done quickly is to know your tools super well – especially for the tools you use the most. As a marketer, I’ve found that includes being able to navigate my Mac computer and also Google Docs seamlessly. So here are a few of my favorite shortcuts for saving time:

  • Just type “docs.new” or “doc.new” into your web browser’s search bar to start a fresh Google document.
  • Check the box to “Display word count while typing,” at the bottom of the word count pop-up box. It will show you the word count in the bottom left corner of the screen, and you can expand it to see the character count and other stats.
  • Paste text that matches your existing text by pressing “Control+Shift+V” (“Command+Shift+V” on a Mac). You can find even more useful Google Doc tips here.
  • Take a screenshot on your Mac with ⌘ + Shift + 4, click, and drag the section you want to screenshot.
  • Minimize all screens with ⌘ + Option + M.
  • Scroll quickly with ⌘ + Either the Up or Down Arrow to move to the top or bottom of a page in lighting speed.
  • Search in search bar without having to touch your trackpad by pressing ⌘ + Up Arrow + L. Find even more Mac keyboard tips here.

5. Going for a walk is a great way to be more productive

Exercise is the key to creativity and problem-solving skills. And walking is an easy way to exercise, with the added benefit of the restorative power of nature.

study done at Stanford showed that walking made participants more creative than those who were sedentary. In fact, it was found that creative output increased 60 percent when a person was walking. Other benefits include greater concentration, relaxation, and increased strength and stamina.

Furthermore, many great minds are known for walking. Albert Einstein walked the mile and a half from his home to Princeton where he taught classes. Charles Darwin was another genius who was said to have taken three 45 minute walks each day. And, according to Mark’s Daily Apple, Dickens would write each day from 9 am — 2 pm and then walk for the rest of the day.

So try to take a walk at the end of big goals you accomplish throughout the day, or every two to three hours. I recommend an hour walk before beginning work in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, and an hour towards the end of the day. Walking is particularly helpful for apples to castles thinking.

6. Stay off social media

Producing high-quality work depends on our ability to focus, and social media apps do all they can to interrupt this focus.

“You’re working and then all of a sudden you get a notification, an invitation to interact. This pulls you away from the task at hand and as a result you’re never really in the zone of maximum productivity,”

says Dr. Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and The Business of Keeping Us Hooked.

According to the Social Dilemma, we spend too much time on social media. And Tristan Harris, Google’s former design ethicist, calls your smartphone “The Slot Machine in Your Pocket.” Essentially we do this because we have no choice. Tech companies like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, have invested infinite money, time, and engineering power to design systems that keep us hooked.

Not only does social media draw your attention away, but also it fills brain space that needs to be left open. Time being bored helps with your productivity. Great minds including Einstein have praised the powers of daydreaming and boredom. This time spent in the subconscious is gives our brains time to process all the new information, which is why many people have some of their best ideas in the shower.

So delete your social media apps or use an app blocker for designated hours of the day. And ideally put your phone in a desk drawer far out of sight. Alternatively, you can try setting a schedule and being disciplined enough to not look at them until the time comes, but that will be more challenging and takes even more energy from your brain.

7. Track your hours

It’s really hard to improve something if you don’t know your current results. So make it a goal to track your working hours each day for a week, to see where your time is truly going.

This will help you get better at making more accurate estimates when staring down new work. And, people are often surprised by what their timesheets actually tell them about their work habits.

To start you can just write your time blocks down in a spreadsheet or draft email. Or just type your hours spent for each task next to each in your productivity app. Or try a free work hour tracking app. Whatever you do, just ensure the amount of setup it takes, exceeds the reward of using it. Basically, keep it simple.

8. Target a streak

Streaks are a way to gamify building a new habit — just ask anyone who’s used Snapchat’s streaks. Some other examples are #nanowrimo which is National Novel Writing Month and encourages writers to write each day of November, and 30-day diet challenges, like the Whole30. Streaks can help you get started, and start to build muscle memory.

The caveat is to not beat yourself up if you miss a day. According to Atomic Habits, top performers make mistakes, commit errors, and get off track just like everyone else. The difference is that they get back on track as quickly as possible.

Research has shown that missing your habit once, no matter when it occurs, has no measurable impact on your long-term progress. Abandon your all-or-nothing mentality, and you’ll go further!

9. Maximize mornings

We’re “dumbest” about 8 hours after we wake up. And the majority of us are at peak capability in the morning till noon, tapering into a trough till about 4 PM and recovering till about 9 PM, according to When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.

Plus, power naps (about 20 minutes) in the afternoon are super helpful, especially if you drink coffee right before one.

So try to schedule your hardest work in the mornings, and your lightest work in the afternoons. Literally block off time blocks on your calendar for each project. And, if you’re feeling sluggish, recharge with a short nap by setting your alarm.

10. Eating a healthy lunch is a marketing productivity tip for work

Like a Porsche, your brain functions best on premium fuel. Studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet.

Scientists account for this difference because traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and only have modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. Plus, they exclude processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the “Western” diet. And, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented, acting as natural probiotics.

Try creating a healthy lunch habit by making a handful of the same recipes, or frequently healthy salad or organic sandwich shops for lunch. One easy option, depending upon where you might live, is Sweetgreen.

11. Ignore emails

Shut down email distractions. I find it helps to think of email like a physical letter. And I only check my mailbox once a day. So I check my emails on a similar cadence. You’ll quickly find 99% of things really are not urgent.

Basically, your email inbox is a trap full of work that can get you sidetracked from some of your most impactful projects. So begin your day by NOT checking your email. Instead start with your own prioritized tasks.

Once you’ve completed everything you know you need to get done. Then open your email to address anything urgent. Update your existing to do list for the next day, with anything you need to set aside time to respond to. I like to “star” or “flag” the most important emails, and then work my way through the starred list.

12. Don’t compare yourself to others

No matter how well you’re doing, comparing yourself to others takes your eyes off your goals and it takes time. Plus, it can cause you to feel bad about how you’re doing, because there will always be someone who looks happier, wealthier, and more successful.

Instead try temporal comparison where you compare yourself to yourself at two different points in time. Thinking about where you would like be in the future and compare that to where you are today to structure your goals in sensible ways. Plus, temporal comparisons can be thought of as fact-finding missions where we pin point things impacting our performance.

By focusing on self-improvement rather than one-upmanship, you will be able to set more realistic goals.

13. Create a daily routine

It’s hard to tweak your work schedule if you don’t have one to begin with. A daily routine provides structure and a logical sequence. And having a routine can be particularly helpful in times of unpredictability, uncertainty, and stress.

According to Headspace, in recent years, there’s been a quiet swelling of interest in what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once called “the dull routine of existence.” Researchers have found that routine can have psychological benefits, including alleviating bipolar disorderADHD, and insomnia

Use a notebook to write out everything you do each day for a week. See what you can cut or reduce. Then, see what you can set as something you do at a set time each day or week. But be conscious that it has to work with your lifestyle. For example, if you like to get up early, staying up late as part of your routine probably won’t work.

One added bonus is that once you’ve established a routine, the merest of tweaks can totally revitalize your day. Sports psychologist Dr. Jim Taylor, an expert on the power of routine for athletes in training, says: “It can be worthwhile to alter routines periodically to keep things fresh and stimulating.”

14. Reduce decision fatigue

It’s impossible to say how many decisions we make each day, but some says it’s 35,000. So even if you don’t want to create a formal routine, it’s important to reduce the amount of decisions you have to make each day. If you can automate the answers to some decisions that have a smaller significance, you’ll save energy for the bigger decisions.

Here are a few ways to reduce your work decision fatigue:

  • Wear the same clothes
  • Eat the same breakfast and the same lunch
  • Listen to the same show or station on the way to work
  • Walk at the same time every day
  • Read a book before bed
  • Delegate decisions to colleagues
  • Have a process for making decisions

15. Only one window

Only do one thing at a time. A 2013 study shows that high cognitive load severely impairs performance. Another study says that if you increase the number of things to which the brain needs to pay attention, it results in bottlenecks that can block awareness of important information. Basically, doing two or more tasks at once usually leads to impairment in at least one of them.

Multitaskers do less and miss information. It takes time (an average of 15 minutes) to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email. Efficiency can drop by as much as 40%. Long-term memory suffers and creativity — a skill associated with keeping in mind multiple, less common, associations — is reduced.

So stop trying to multi-task. Close your digital office door, the same way you’d close your office door in a physical space when you don’t want anyone walking in. Just close all of the tabs on your computer, except for the one window you’re working on (yes, that means closing Slack and email).

HBR recommends sticking with one item until completion if you can. If attention starts to wane (typically after about 18 minutes), you can switch to a new task. But take a moment to leave yourself a note about where you were with the first one. Then give the new task your full attention, again for as long as you can.

16. No notifications

Not all information is useful. A Deloitte study in 2016 found that young people look at their phones 82 time per day on average. Apple proudly announced in 2013 that 7.4 trillion push notifications had been pushed through its servers. The intervening four years have not reversed the trend.

There’s a solution, though: Kill your push notifications. Consider which communications are worthy of interrupting you, and what new data you should seek out. Know the difference between social networks, which are likely to confirm your choices and therefore make you feel good, and knowledge networks, which might challenge them, and therefore help you make a better decision.

So turn off your browser notifications, cell phone notifications, and app notifications, and rejoice.

17. Using voice to text is a great productivity tip for work

Save time taking notes, transcribing calls, podcasts, and videos, and more by using voice to text. You can even save time texting that way.

You can use free apps like SpeechTexter, or just follow your phone’s instructions: Android or Apple.

In Google Documents, just go to “Tools” and then “Voice typing,” and enable your microphone. Plug in your headphones, play your audio file, and clearly dictate whatever’s said—Google will transcribe it all for you.

18. Decline meetings without agendas

A Clarizen/Harris Poll survey revealed that the average American worker spends 4.5 hours in general status meetings each week, and workers spend 4.6 hours just preparing for those meetings.

Research shows that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. And, a survey conducted by Igloo software found that 47% of respondents found meetings to be generally unproductive.

So only attend meetings with an agenda that includes a clear goal or problem to solve, and a section for next steps and follow ups. Ensure your meetings always start and end on time. And each year wipe every meeting off everyone’s calendars, forcing those to re-add only those that add value. You could even try to implement a “no meeting” day of the week across your team.

19. Create templates for frequent tasks

For anything you find yourself doing three times within a few weeks, create a system. Since you’ve already encountered it a few ways, you will hopefully stumble into a template that works. Once you know it works, use it again and again.

For example, if you report on key marketing metrics weekly, create a standard reporting format. You can use a Google Doc or email draft, but make the sections the same and in the same order every time. That way you can just copy last week’s and easily fill in your new information without putting reps into figuring out the best way to present the information.

20. Get a dual monitor

Dual monitors have been proven to increase productivity by 20-30% according to The New York Times‘ report of a Jon Peddie Research survey.

A second monitor helps to increase productivity by decreasing the time it takes to complete certain tasks where you need to reference multiple data points or sets of information. Some common examples are:

  • Data entry
  • Drafting an email using source material
  • Comparing products side-by-side
  • Comparing an original image to the finished one in graphic design
  • Spreading large spreadsheets across two monitors to view a report in its entirety
  • Leaving a chat box open while you work.

Rather than switching back and forth between windows, you’re able to do the task seamlessly with everything open and visible at once.

According to the University of Utah, a second monitor can save each employee 2.5 hours each day if they use it for all of their tasks – which is 27 whole days across a business year. So get yourself that second monitor set up.

21. Change your scenery

A change of scenery can help to reinvigorate you. Professor Kimberly Elsbach, who studies workplace psychology at the University of California found that people are more creative when they change their environments.

As she told NPR, ” staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking.” But getting outside and experiencing a natural environment, even for a few minutes, is restorative. Her research shows that even something as simple as a walk around the block can make you more creative.

So, the best workspaces are ones that offer people a bit of freedom to move around and break up the monotony. Sit in a different area of your office/workspace for at least an hour a day. That could be as simple as switching from downstairs to upstairs. Or try working a patio: you’ll experience less stress and more motivation when you’re surrounded by plants, water and other natural elements.

Bonus idea: Get a pet

OK this one is a little extreme, but pets force you into some of these habits. For example they require daily exercise, and having a routine (because when they got to go, they got to go!). Plus, they can hold your attention in the real world – away from apps and notifications.

Put these productivity tips for work into practice!

Now you’re ready to maximize the heck out of your time and improve your marketing productivity. Get started with a free prioritization tool for creating a weekly game plan.

Up next, discover first principles thinking, and see how it can improve your marketing overnight.

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.