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Quick Wins: 7 Fun Productivity Hacks You Should Try This Week

March 25, 2024

Reading Time: 11 minutes

How to set boundaries

Quick Wins: 7 Fun Productivity Hacks You Should Try This Week

Sometimes a quick win is exactly what we need for a little time management boost. That’s why in this episode I’ve compiled a list of 7 fun productivity hacks to give you back a few minutes in your day.

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If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I usually talk about the deeper aspects of time management – how it all starts with a clear vision for your future and aligning your actions with your core values. That’s the foundation of everything we discuss here.

But every now and then, it’s fun to shake things up a bit, right? So today, I’m putting aside my usual deep dive to share something a little lighter, yet surprisingly effective – seven fun little productivity hacks that are worth a test drive. Y’all know I’m not typically a huge fan of quick fixes, but hey – sometimes these little tips can serve as stepping stones towards more profound changes in how we manage our time and lives. And even if they don’t, they might shave off a few minutes here and there, and as we all know – all of those minutes add up! 

So today, we’re talking about

  • The 2-minute solution when you’re overwhelmed by a million tiny tasks in your day
  • How Theme Days will transform your productivity when you have a lot of projects going on
  • The 3 digital productivity hacks you need reduce digital overwhelm and improve efficiency
  • Why a capsule wardrobe will reduce your decision fatigue

The Two-Minute Rule

Have you ever heard of the Two-Minute Rule? It’s deceptively simple but incredibly powerful. Here’s the gist: if a task comes your way and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it immediately. That’s right, no procrastinating, no putting it on a to-do list, just get it done.

Why is this so effective? Well, it’s all about not letting those small tasks pile up. You know the ones I’m talking about – replying to that quick email, hanging up your coat, filing a document, or even just washing your coffee cup. These tasks might seem trivial, but when they accumulate, they can become overwhelming and clutter both your physical space and your mind.

By tackling these little tasks right away, you’re keeping your space and your to-do list clear, which means you can focus on the bigger, more important tasks without distraction. It’s also incredibly satisfying to complete these tasks – it gives you a sense of accomplishment and keeps you in a productive mindset.

Now, I challenge you to try this rule. Next time you think, ‘I’ll do this later,’ stop and ask yourself, ‘Can I do this in two minutes?’ If the answer is yes, just do it. You’ll be amazed at how much smoother your day will go.”

Theme Days

Alright, moving on from the ultra-quick two-minute rule, let’s dive into something a bit more structured, yet equally transformative: Themed Days. Now, this is a hack that I love so much, I included it as one of the three main tools in your time management swiss army knife in my book, Time Management Essentials.

Picture this: It’s Monday morning, you’re starting your week, and instead of being bombarded by a random assortment of tasks, you know that Monday is your ‘Make it Happen Monday’ That’s right, each day of the week gets a specific theme or focus. For instance, Tuesdays could be for meetings, Wednesdays for creative projects, Thursdays for networking or client outreach, and Fridays for planning and reflection.

The beauty of Themed Days lies in their simplicity. By dedicating each day to a specific type of task, you streamline your focus. It cuts down on the chaos and the mental load of juggling too many different types of tasks in one day.

Now, you might be thinking, ‘What if something urgent comes up?’ And let’s be real – it usually does.  The trick here is flexibility within the structure. While you focus mainly on the day’s theme, you’re still available for those inevitable urgent tasks. But here’s the catch – most tasks aren’t as urgent as they seem, and they can often wait for their themed day.

I’ve personally found that Themed days reduce decision fatigue. You know those moments when you have so many different tasks you could tackle, and you end up spending more time deciding what to do than actually doing it? Themed days help eliminate that. You start your day with a clear focus, which is a game changer for productivity.

And here’s a tip: When you’re planning out your themed days, align them with your natural weekly rhythm. If you’re more energetic earlier in the week, that might be the best time for tasks that require more creativity or concentration. Less demanding tasks can be reserved for when your energy wanes later in the week.

Okay and a bonus tip – Theme days are more fun with alliteration! Think – Money Monday, Website Wednesday, Finance Friday… and don’t forget – theme days are for more than just work tasks. You can use Theme Days to make meal planning easier.

I’m talking meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, and Air Fryer Friday! 

Give it a try! Play around with different themes and see how this method can transform your week – and maybe even make it a little more fun. 

Schedule Tech Checks

“Next up, let’s talk about managing our digital communication without letting it overrun our day. I like to call this approach ‘Tech Checks,’ inspired by the famous Dr. Pepper Time – you know, the 10, 2, and 4 o’clock schedule they advertised back in the day?

It’s a structured, yet flexible way to handle emails and other technology-based tasks.

So, here’s how it works: Instead of constantly checking your email or notifications and getting sucked into the unending vortex of messages, set specific times for these tasks. I recommend three times a day – at 10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM. Think of these as your Tech Check times.

During these Tech Checks, you dive into your emails, respond to messages, check your social media notifications, or any other tech-based tasks you need to handle. The key here is to limit this activity to these specific times. Outside of these windows, you focus entirely on your other tasks without the distraction of incoming emails or pings.

This method does wonders for your productivity. First, it helps you take control of your time and attention. Instead of being at the mercy of every notification, you’re setting boundaries. It’s a way of telling yourself and others that while you are accessible, you’re not on-demand 24/7.

Second, batching these tasks improves efficiency. When you handle similar tasks in one go, you get into a groove, and you’re able to process them faster compared to addressing them sporadically throughout the day.

Now, you might worry about missing something urgent. Here’s a tip: Set expectations with your colleagues, clients, or team about your response times. And if something is truly urgent, they can always call you. But as you’ll find, most things can wait a few hours until your next Tech Check.

Give Tech Checks a try. You might be surprised at how much more you can get done when you’re not constantly reacting to every email or notification that comes your way.

The 10-Minute Tidy

Moving on to a different kind of productivity hack, let’s talk about your physical workspace. I call this next one the ’10-Minute Tidy.’ It’s a simple, yet surprisingly effective way to ramp up your focus and productivity.

Here’s the gist of it: Set aside just ten minutes at the end of your day for tidying up your workspace. It doesn’t have to be a deep clean – just a quick straightening up. Organize your papers, clear your desk, put pens back in their holder, maybe even wipe down surfaces. The idea is to reset your space, so when you start work the next day, you’re not greeted by yesterday’s chaos.

Now, you might be wondering, ‘Does a tidy desk really make that much of a difference?’ And I’m here to tell you, yes, it does! A cluttered workspace can lead to a cluttered mind. It can be distracting, and sometimes even stressful, to sit down to a mess. It’s like starting your day already behind. On the other hand, a clean and organized workspace can be incredibly refreshing and motivating.

This hack also instills a wonderful sense of closure at the end of your workday. It’s a great addition to a Workday Shutdown routine because it’s a signal to your brain that work is done, and it’s time to switch off or switch to another role, like being a parent, a partner, or just taking time for yourself.

If you have kids, you can even involve them in a 10-Minute Tidy for their space. It’s a great way to teach them organization skills and the importance of taking care of their environment. I recently taught my 5 year old Millie how to “reset the living room” by putting all of the throw pillows on the sofa in their designated spot, putting blankets back in the basket and making sure the rug is clear of toys and shoes. It only takes her a few minutes and it gives her a responsibility that can grow with her over time. 

So I challenge you to try this for a week. Just ten minutes at the end of your workday, and see how it affects your productivity and your mindset when you start work the next day. It’s a small investment of time for a potentially big return in productivity and peace of mind.

Weekly Digital Declutter

Alright, let’s shift gears a bit and talk about a different kind of tidying up – a Weekly Digital Declutter. In our digitally-dominated world, it’s not just our physical spaces that get cluttered; our digital spaces need regular cleaning too.

So, what exactly is a Weekly Digital Declutter? It’s about taking a set time each week – let’s say 15 minutes – to organize and clean up your digital life. This includes unsubscribing from email lists that no longer serve you, deleting apps you don’t use, organizing your files, and even clearing out those endless tabs you have open on your browser. And by the way, I dedicated an entire episode to doing a digital declutter back in episode 64.

Why is this important? Well, digital clutter can be just as overwhelming as physical clutter. It can slow down your devices, make it hard to find important files or emails, and generally contribute to a sense of being overwhelmed. A clean digital space can lead to a clearer mind and a more focused approach to your work and life.

Start by setting a recurring appointment with yourself to do your digital declutter – I do mine on Fridays during my Finance & Admin Friday routine.

Here are a few ideas for your Digital Declutter Agenda: 

  1. Unsubscribe from emails that you always delete anyway.
  2. Organize your desktop and digital files.
  3. Review and uninstall apps you haven’t used in the past month.
  4. Clear out your download folder and recycle bin.

It’s amazing how these small actions can make a big difference. Just like the 10-Minute Tidy for your physical space, this digital version helps in creating a more streamlined, less distracting digital environment.

Remember, the goal here isn’t perfection; it’s progress. Even if you only get through a few tasks in your 15 minutes, you’re still moving forward. And over time, you’ll start to notice how much easier it is to work in a decluttered digital space.

So, give it a try. Make the Weekly Digital Declutter a part of your routine and see how it transforms your digital experience.

The Five-Sentence Email

Let’s move on to a communication hack that’s as simple as it is effective: The Five-Sentence Email. In our fast-paced world, being concise is a superpower, especially when it comes to emails.

The concept is straightforward – challenge yourself to keep every email you send to just five sentences or fewer. That’s right, no more, no less. Five sentences force you to get to the point and communicate clearly and efficiently.

Why does this work? First, it saves you time. Writing long emails can be time-consuming, not just for you but also for the person on the receiving end. By keeping your emails short and sweet, you’re respecting both your time and theirs.

Second, it forces you to be extra clear with your communication. When you have only five sentences to get your message across, you cut out the fluff and focus on what’s truly important. This clarity often leads to more effective communication and quicker decision-making.

Now, this doesn’t mean your emails need to be cold or impersonal. You can still be warm and friendly. The key is to be succinct. Start with a greeting, state your purpose, add necessary details, and close with a clear call to action or conclusion.

Of course, there will always be exceptions where more detailed communication is needed. But for the vast majority of emails, five sentences is more than enough.

I encourage you to try this for a week. Notice not just the time you save, but also how it changes the way you think about and craft your messages. You might just find that the Five-Sentence Email becomes your new favorite thing. 

Capsule Wardrobe

As we wrap up today’s episode, let’s talk about a hack that’s less about managing time and more about simplifying life choices – it’s called a Capsule Wardrobe. This hack is all about minimizing your wardrobe to a set number of essential items that you love and that go well together.

The idea is simple: pick out a number of versatile, quality pieces that you can mix and match. This could be around 30 to 40 items, including clothes, shoes, and accessories. The key is to focus on items that you feel great in and that work well for a variety of occasions. Back in episode 150, I talked with Jenny Eversole, the CEO of StyleSpace all about how to save time with a capsule wardrobe. Definitely check that one out if you’re curious about what a capsule wardrobe could look like for me. 

So, why is this a productivity hack? Well, think about it – how much time do we spend every morning deciding what to wear? By having a streamlined wardrobe, you reduce decision fatigue. With a capsule wardrobe, every choice is a good choice because everything works well together.

Not only does this save you time in the morning, but it also reduces the stress of decision-making. Plus, it can lead to a more sustainable and intentional lifestyle, as you’re likely to invest in quality pieces that last longer, rather than constantly buying new items.

Getting started with a capsule wardrobe can be as simple as going through your current wardrobe and selecting your favorite pieces that fit well and make you feel confident. Remember, the goal is not to limit yourself but to create an efficient, versatile wardrobe that makes getting dressed a breeze.

If you spend literally 2.5 seconds on my instagram profile, you’ll see that I wear a LOT of blue. And that’s intentional – not only is it my favorite color, but I find that different shades of blue tend to be easy to mix and match. My closet is a lot of light blue, navy, and neutrals like white and camel. But of course, there’s also a pretty decent purple and gold section for LSU games, and then there’s the purple green and gold section for Mardi Gras… But you’ll mostly find blue, and that makes my life so much easier. 

Try it out and see how it feels. You might be surprised at how liberating it is to have fewer choices, and how much time and energy you can save when getting ready each day becomes so much simpler.

The Real Foundation of Time Management

There you have it: seven quick win productivity hacks that can bring a little extra efficiency and fun into your everyday life. From procrastination busting Two-Minute Rule to the lifestyle shift of a Capsule Wardrobe, each of these hacks could be a small but meaningful way to streamline your day and reclaim some precious time.

But as we wrap up today’s episode, I want to remind you of something important. While these hacks are fun and can definitely provide a boost to your daily productivity – saving you a few minutes here and there, they are not the foundation of effective time management. 

Remember, at the heart of truly managing your time well is a clear vision for your future and living in alignment with your core values. These hacks? Think of them as the cherry on top – useful and a bit delightful, but not the sundae itself. Honestly, I don’t even like cherries so that’s probably a bad example. 

The real magic happens when you start with that bigger picture – your goals, dreams, and the things that matter most to you. Creating a life that reflects who you are and what you stand for. And sometimes, it’s okay to sprinkle in a few shortcuts and time savers that these hacks offer.

So, as you go about your week, try out some of these hacks. Have fun with them, see what works for you, and what doesn’t. Chances are all of them won’t work for you, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. And don’t forget to keep your eyes on the bigger prize – a life well-lived, aligned with your vision and your values.

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