My Top 5 Daily Productivity Practices

In this article, you will learn personal productivity hacks, common attributes and methods that you can try out or apply into your everyday.

I am Lisa Lam and my goals are to help you discover new ways to develop your skills, challenge perceptions and share hacks that you can learn to enhance your everyday. 

My Top 5 Personal Productivity Hacks… What I practice daily..

Productivity is the name of the game.  Everyone wants to be more productive and for good reason.  Some of the benefits of being productive are:

  • Get more done!
  • Maximise the resources you have to produce the best possible outcomes.
  • Gives you focus and clarity.

What I have discovered with personal productivity are the following:

  • You define that productive is for you and only you.
  • It is a skill that you can learn and a muscle that you will need to develop.
  • It is a discipline for you to grow into.
  • It requires you to say No to short term gains or pleasures.
  • You are your own productivity guru.. So own it.

There are some common attributes that all personal productivity is based on and they are:

  • Acknowledge the finite nature of most precious resources and that is time.
  • Boundaries to eliminate distractions.
  • Choose the prioritises that aligns with your values.
  • Dedicated workspace or environment.
  • Eliminate timewasters or the nice-to-do.

There are some common productivity techniques that might interest you and they are:

  • Pomodoro techniques:  This technique is about breaking up work into segments followed by small breaks intervals.  The idea behind these segments or intervals is to help you keep your creativity or energy level at a certain level without feeling tired or bored.  The easiest way to think about the implementation of this technique is to remember that each interval is 25mins with a break of 5 mins and after going this cycle of 4 intervals, then a longer break.
  • Batching:  Batching similar task together that you are able to run through during a certain time block.
  • To-do list:  Have a list of items that you need to get done.  The to-do list should be everything that is running around in your mind that you need to get done.  Remember, your brain is not a good to-do-list keeper.  It is meant to be processing to-do and not as a list keeper.  So writing it down or putting it into some sort of a tool where you are able to then go through and process or execute them.
  • Productivity tools:  Calendar, Schedule management, applications that you need to use to do your work eg Microsoft Office suites and so on.
  • Single task and not multitask:  Research has shown that single tasking is more productive than multi-tasking.

Let’s summarise what I have covered so far:

  1. What personal productivity means to you?
  2. Common attributes that all personal productive are based on.
  3. Productivity techniques that are widely used.

For me, I have been on this constant quest to be more productive.  I have a mindset that I want to continuously learn new and better ways of getting things done.  I have read countless books of increasing personal productivity and I would recommend “Getting Things Done” by David Allen if you want to read just one book.  The reason is that he has a very simple outline and process of Capture, Clarify, Organise, Reflect and Engage.  The one key theme that I put into practice is that my brain is not a list keeper so capture every item that is running around in my mind and once they have been captured, then I am able to act on each of them. 

To put all this into my top 5 personal productivity hacks, this is what I practice:

1.  I have a dedicated place to work.  Not a big room or some fancy table.  In fact, just a simple small table with my 2 monitors (one in landscape and the other in portrait mode), writing pads and coffee (of course.)

2.  I practice the Pomodoro technique in terms of allocating 25 mins interval for writing, editing, recording, reading / researching, painting, practice piano and so on.  I take 5 mins break by hydrating or just running on the spot or stretching, some sort of quick physical activities.

3.  Single tasking.  I focus on one thing at a time and once I have completed that task, I will move on to the next task.  Basically go down the list of to-dos.

4.  Do the most impactful first.  This is my personal preference.  To complete what I consider the most impactful first and then moving on to the important and so on.

5.  Schedule everything that requires more than 10 mins and batch schedule the items that are similar and takes less time.  My schedule tool of choice is Outlook Calendar with color coded categories of course.

As a bonus I am also a firm believer of the Parkinson Law which basically states that work will fill up the time that has been allocated.  In another words, whatever time you have allocated to do so something, you will use it up.  For example, if I allocate 2 hours to complete writing up a business plan, I will use up 2 hours to do that.  If I allocate 30 mins to write up a business plan, I will complete that in 30 mins.  Work expands or contracts based on the time that you allocate.  Therefore, it is important that you know how you work and the time-wasters that could be hidden in the time allocation.

I have personally found that there are a few skills that are useful in enhancing or improving your productivity.  It has certainly been useful for me and what I do.  These skills are:

1.  Reading.  If you are able to read fast, then you are able to finish reading materials or books faster.  In my situation, the ability to read fast, enables me to finish researching materials or topics much faster.  Imagine, if you have to read a book which has an average of 50,000 words and if your reading speed is the average of 300 words per minute, you will need an average of 166 minutes to complete the book.  What if your reading speed in 600 words per minute?  You can now finish a book much faster and the time that you have “saved” you are able to do something else.  A good point to note or remember is that all leaders are great readers.  How does someone like Bill Gates have the time to read so many books?  I have no doubt it is because he reads fast.

2.  Typing.  In the same way as reading, typing speed is an underrated skill to have.  If you have to type out your projects, marketing plans, articles or books, imagine how fast you are able to complete your task if you are able to type faster.  I have personally found that being able to type fast helps in my writing but also just engaging the flow of my thoughts without having to wait for the words to slowly appear on the screen.  For example, the average typing speed is 40 words per minute.    If you had to complete a 1000-word project or assignment, on the average typing speed, you would need on average 25 mins.   What if you could type double or triple that speed?  You now have more time for your coffee break.

 By the way, I am still on the quest to increase my typing speed.  The challenge that I had for myself for the month of April was to increase my typing speed from the 70s to 100, so far, I am up to 96 words per minute.  I have already increased my speed by almost 40%.

3.  Creative outlets.  For me, to recharge my mind, I find that creative outlets are hobbies are extremely beneficial for me.  For me, the activities such as painting, bashing at the piano, cooking, and baking fall into that creative outlet category.  One of the great benefits of working from home, I can engage in any one of those activities during my “break” intervals.  When I was at work, I use to take walks.  The goal here is to replenish your energy stores.

Let me recap what I have covered.

1.  You define what productivity means to you.  Don’t try and follow someone else’s routine but learn what elements of the routine you could find beneficial.

2. Continue to explore new ways to keep your productivity level high and don’t be afraid to try out new techniques or methods.  Mix them up and see what works for you.  Productivity is a continuous journey and not a one time or fixed routine that you put in place.  It will and should change depending on you and your journey of growth.  Your style and pace of work will change over time and therefore your productivity hacks should change accordingly.

3.  Batch or time blocking method works.  Whether you implement the Pomodoro or Parkinson Law, this method does work.  At the heart of batch and time blocking is to help you focus and concentrate on the task at hand so that you can complete them with the attention and energy that it needs.

4.  Explore skills that can give you small incremental advantages such as reading or typing.  It might seem like trivial skills but believe me, they are useful skills to have.

Thank you for taking time to spend it with me.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life.   As always, please subscribe, follow and share this site with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

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