Stacy-Ann Hayles

Web Designer for small businesses

Productivity hacks I actually use

If there are a thousand productivity hacks out there, I’ve probably tried 999 of them. From cold showers to “eat the frog”, from GTD to PARA, I’ve tried them all, just to see what sticks.

At the end of the day, while many were useful, there are a select few of them that have stuck with me over the years and now form an integral part of my day.

Here’s my ultimate productivity stack.

Time Blocking – This one changed the game! Rather than trying to stick to a traditional 9-5 workday schedule (which really doesn’t work for me), I now block my time in 2-4 hour increments throughout the day. I have a steady weekly schedule with fixed time blocks, so at any given hour, I know exactly what I’m supposed to be working on.

Pomodoro Technique – While the traditional pomodoro technique recommends 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break, I often use the 50/10 split variation as well. Whenever I have a really long, daunting task to tackle, this helps me break it down into smaller, manageable chunks that are far easier to complete.

Biphasic Sleep – Yup, I’m one of those folks. I work best when the world around me silent, but I also run a business that requires me to be awake during regular daytime hours. So now, I operate on a 12 hour schedule – 4 hours sleep, 4 hours work, 4 hours home and personal time – instead of 24 hour one.

Inbox Zero – I’ve been at Inbox Zero for maybe 5 years now. Initially it was just something fun to do, but as someone who suffers from anxiety and gets seriously overwhelmed at large unread counts, I can’t express the peace of mind that comes from seeing a mostly empty mailbox that I can process in 5-10 minutes per day.

Silent Notifications – Speaking of unread counts, seeing notifications and little red dots on my phone drive me nuts! That’s why I’ve turned off notifications for everything except a few essential apps on my phone. What’s essential? Any app that I wouldn’t check unless I got a notification (e.g. Skype) and anything that’s critical to business communication (e.g. WhatsApp). I also keep my phone on silent unless I’m going out or expecting an important call.

That’s my stack. What’s yours? Let me know on Twitter!

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