This is not your typical list of the same-old “life hacks”.
There are only 4 time-saving tips in this article, and most people who read it only need to try one of them.
That’s because we’ve researched the most radical productivity boosters out there. Some of them may even seem, at first glance, to be counter-intuitive.
But stay with us. Because if you really want your life to change in a big way, you can’t do it without making big changes.
Or in this case, just one big change. Our 4 tips are not designed to be all used together –each one is designed to be used by a different personality type.
After all, there is no “one size fits all” answer to good time management. Different folks prefer different strokes.
So, read on and see which of our 4 tips appeals to you most. Which one could finally silence that part of your brain that makes you procrastinate? Which one is just crazy enough to work?
Then make one simple life change, and BOOM... a fitter, happier, more productive 2018!
1. It’s not procrastination, it’s you-timeOkay, here’s a great way to stop procrastinating and be more productive. Just stop calling it procrastination... and start calling it enjoying your life or making some you-time.
Think about it. Why do you do the things you do when you procrastinate? Why do you talk to friends, or read books, or browse the web, or go for a run, or watch movies, or take a nice bath?
Because you like doing those things! And life is here to be enjoyed!
So long as you do actually finish the work you need to finish, who cares how close to the deadline you do it?
There are some perceived downsides to this outlook, yes. But with a slight change in your perspective, you can massively change your life for the better:
• “Procrastination puts me under too much pressure!” – Some people just work better under pressure, and you’re one of them. That’s why you procrastinate. Stop worrying and enjoy it.
• “I could achieve so much more if I stopped procrastinating!” – Not everyone can be Elon Musk. You already achieve a lot, so relax and start enjoying yourself.
• “My colleagues are more productive than me!” – That’s probably not true, but who cares either way? Accept who you are and you’ll be much happier. You’ll actually become more productive as a result.
But what if you don’t enjoy doing the things you do when you procrastinate? What if you literally waste your days reading Wikipedia pages and YouTube comments?
Then stop. You can still be a proud procrastinator – but use that “unproductive” time to do things you really love, like art or programming or writing. It could lead to a new career, and it will definitely make you happier.
(Just remember – you still need to get your real work done.)
2. Simplify, simplify, simplify
Did you read the section above and think “Ugh, no. I’m not even a procrastinator, I just have too much on my plate”?
It sounds like you’re one of those intelligent people who is interested in many different ideas and topics. Someone who loves to show their skills in many disciplines, to be a high-achiever in everything you do, and to astound everyone around you.
That’s great. It’s very impressive. But is it really making you happy? And are you truly productive?
Perhaps not. Because that old saying, “a Jack of all trades is master of none”, rings as true today as it ever has.
Modern life is hectic enough. Trying to do too many different things means you will probably never truly excel at any of them
Simplify your life for a happier 2018, where you’re focused on what’s really important to you:
• Identify the work, hobbies and projects you most want to pursue. Ditch the rest.
• De-clutter your home, car and desk. Get rid of things that are getting in your way or take too much time to look after.
• Reduce habits that hold you back, like late nights that leave you tired the next day.
Now you still have a diverse list of interests and activities, but it’s smaller and you’ve cut out the stuff that no longer interests you. You’re left with a simpler schedule, and enough time to do the things you love.
You’re set for a truly productive 2018!
3. Use time blocking to finally get things doneNeither of the tips above for you? Are you a non-procrastinator who just can’t get away from the huge lists of tasks you’re responsible for?
That list could be what’s killing your productivity. If it’s so long that you can’t even imagine finishing all of the tasks on it, then it’s no longer a list – it’s a prison!
It’s time to try a different kind of list. It’s time to try “time blocking”.
With time blocking, you “block out” time in your calendar for each of the high-priority jobs you need to do in the coming week.
It doesn’t matter if you have a paper diary or you use Google/Outlook/Apple electronic calendars. The principle is the same.
Have a report due Thursday morning? Block out Wednesday afternoon. Need to research a topic? Block out an hour first-thing tomorrow. Make sure you switch off your phone and stay focused during each time block.
Now you don’t have an endless List of Doom anymore. You know you have time to do everything you need to do. And you know when you have free time to relax for a bit.
Suddenly you’re more productive and managing your time better than ever before. Enjoy 2018!
4. Stop using to-do lists altogetherIf you’ve read this far and aren’t taken with any of our productivity tips so far, don’t worry. We’ve saved the simplest and most out-there productivity booster for last. This is your ticket.
If you’re not a procrastinator, you don’t need to simplify your life, and you don’t want to swap lists for time blocks then... it’s time to stop using to-do lists altogether.
Yep, it turns out that linear, vertical lists can seriously hold you back – especially if you’re a naturally creative and free-thinking person.
The vertical list is boring, rigid and prescriptive. It can take the joy out of work, reducing the reward for your efforts to a mere tick in a box.
So, try a different approach, like...
• Spatial diagrams that start in the centre of the page and sprawl out with ideas in all directions
• Mind maps of connected words, tasks, drawings and notes
• Collages of images that depict your vision and goals
Bring your own unique creativity to the way you plan work, and you’ll start to be more creative and productive at work too. You know it makes sense!
You’re ready for a super-productive 2018!
There are two major takeaways from this article.
One, your pick of our 4 outside-the-box productivity hacks – which one fits your personality?
And two, the realisation that not every productivity tip is right for every kind of person... and that it’s sometimes better to accept who you are and play to your strengths than try to be a superman or wonder woman.
We wish you a successful and productive 2018 – good luck!
P.S. In case you're not sure about how good your own time management abilities are, we have a free, personalised test that you can take and finish in about 5 minutes, which can be found here.