20 Everyday Productivity Hacks to Make You Win at Life
We’re busy, busy bees these days. Between full-time jobs and packed social schedules, it’s more important than ever to take care of business, and to do so timely and efficiently. In pursuit of this, we love nothing more than picking the brains of our most successful and driven friends—they always seem to have a few tricks up their sleeves! To our great luck, we have an entire office full of such people who are both of these things, plus tech savvy, to boot. Read on for 20 productivity hacks you’ll want to try out today.
Mobile apps have become a necessity for getting things done. Creative producer Jenna Peffley swears she has no idea how she survived without them for so long: “As a producer, I live for Postmates and Instacart to help get food, coffee, and groceries to set. I'm also a huge fan of Schlep and Fetch messenger service." Clique co-founder and co-CEO Hillary Kerr is a huge fan of Evernote: "I love the fact that every time I update a ‘note’ in one place, it automatically updates and syncs across all of them. I use it to create daily and monthly to-do lists for work, as well as any and all story ideas (because you never know when one is going to hit you!).”
We all know the organizational importance of a to-do list, but it's even more powerful to get one going at the beginning of each day. It will not only help you stay on task, but, as Who What Wear associate market editor Nicole Akhtarzad notes, will also "prompt you to want to cross things off your list and work faster and more efficiently, and will give you a sense of satisfaction once you've done so.”
It’s tough to sit down first thing in the morning and dive right in. But if you do, you’ll find that as you tire throughout the day, your tasks get breezier and breezier. Nothing is worse than having to trudge through a really difficult or big task toward the end of the day, when your brain is already thinking dreamily of dinner and Netflix.
Have some office supplies or toiletries you use regularly? Amazon Subscribe & Save is about to be your new best friend. Our VP of digital strategy, Alex Taylor, says, “Amazon Subscribe & Save is my newest obsession. I can set up recurring deliveries based on suggested frequencies for items I hate to shop for or constantly need replenished… which means more time to focus on truly important tasks." Amen!
Product manager Justin Sullivan touts the importance of delegation and the simple approach to deciding when to do it: “If something is important, do it yourself. If it isn’t important and someone else can handle it, delegate, delegate, delegate.”
If you find yourself constantly derailed by distractions, do as our director of engineering, Kevin Amerson, does: "Turn off notifications: Log out of Facebook, log out of Twitter, silence your phone, close your personal email. All of a sudden you just rolled back time to 1985, and you can focus your mind and think about one thing for more than two seconds before getting interrupted.” A little unplugging goes a long way.
Momentum can be an asset when cranking through a list of to-dos. Our VP of marketing and brand integration, Monina Gaerlan, suggests making a top-three list: “I put the top three things on my list that need to get done that day. I start my day with the biggest task, then the other two. Getting the bigger tasks done first thing allows room for all of the other unexpected tasks and projects that happen throughout the day.”
If you find it too tempting to desert your to-do list and find yourself getting off track, consider setting calendar reminders like Allyson Payer, executive assistant to our co-founder, does: “I add each task to my Gmail calendar at the optimal time and day of my choosing, which helps me to prioritize."
Gmail shortcuts can be a huge time-saver if your work involves lots of back-and-forth correspondence. Who What Wear editorial director Kat Collings swears by them and has a few favorites she encourages the entire editorial team to use. To turn shortcuts on, click the gear in the top right of Gmail and select Settings. Find the "Keyboard shortcuts" section and select Keyboard shortcuts on, then click Save Changes at the bottom of the page. You can now use keyboard shortcuts like "R" to reply, or "C" to compose!
Planning is key to a successful and productive week. Every Sunday, take the time to plan out your week one day at a time, including "extracurricular" activities such as heading to the gym, going food shopping, meeting friends, and so on. Clique developer Brian Stewart swears this keeps his stress levels low because he doesn't have to worry about missing something. He notes, "I also always put a lot of effort into making sure my goals are attainable and I'm being realistic. If I end up stretching myself too thin, then I make sure I give myself less to do the next week."
By breaking down any goal or task into smaller subtasks, you can slowly chip away at an otherwise overwhelming project. Not to mention, dividing a task into shorter bursts of work will help you avoid getting distracted.
Byrdie editor Alina Gonzalez swears by the simple edict of touching every task just once. "As soon as you look at something, do what it requires in order to not have to touch it twice.” This approach will keep small items on your to-do list from piling up and will also help you stay on top of everything.
Make like a managing editor and master your inbox by downloading Right Inbox, a Gmail plug-in that allows you to schedule emails out in advance—no more saving in drafts and (forgetting to) send first thing in the morning! Faith Xue, Byrdie managing editor, swears it has saved her life: "This is super-helpful for a night owl like myself. Also, it has this amazing feature where you can ‘remind’ yourself of an email—you just select when you would like the app to re-send the email to your inbox, and rest easy knowing you won't forget about it."
If you often find yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth while you work, you might benefit from a little Zen. After all, if you're so stressed that you always feel in a panic, you won't be able to get a single thing done. Our senior manager of branded content, Nairi Najarian, suggests burning a mildly scented candle at your desk: “It will instantly relax you and lets a sense of calm wash over your workspace."
It’s so tempting to work, work, work when your to-do list is pages long. But it’s scientifically proven that creativity increases after a short break, especially if it’s one taken outdoors. If you feel yourself dragging or are hitting walls at every turn, pause, take a short break, grab a coffee or walk down around the corner, and then sit back down. You’ll be surprised by how energized you’ll be to get things done.
If much of your work and projects live online, consider syncing all of your devices so that you can access them easily no matter where you are. Who What Wear managing editor Meghan Blalock traded in her iPhone for a Samsung Note 4, which runs Google's Android software, to help close the gap. "As much as I resent sounding like a professional millennial cliché, the true key to my productivity is my mobile device. … Having access to all my Google stuff in the palm of my hand increased my productivity by about 500%. I can see and edit my work calendar, and obviously check/write emails, but here's the best part: I can access my work hangouts from my phone. So if I'm ever out for some reason, I'm still highly reachable by my colleagues."
Sometimes, it pays to take it a little old-school. Our director of advertising sales, Stacy Macklin, says she's all about encouraging herself and her team to pick up the phone, rather than email constantly: "You can get a lot accomplished in one call versus 10 emails!”
There's simply no denying the power of a good soundtrack. If you need the mental push to get in the zone, work to create your perfect work playlist, just as you might a workout playlist! Pressing play will instantly put you in the mind-set that it's time to get down to business.
After a high-energy day of getting things done, it can be hard to unwind and get to sleep without the next day's tasks racing through your mind. MyDomaine lifestyle editor Genevieve Fish recommends doing a daily recap: "Every night before bed, I write out a list of everything I have to do the next day. Once it's on paper, I can stop worrying about it and get a good night’s sleep!” Amen to that!
Scroll to shop some of our favorite planners.