6 Lesser-Known Productivity Tips
Lessons from a productivity obsessive
If you search for productivity, you’re going to get a lot of tried and tested tips and tricks. Things like; write everything down, use your calendar to block out time for doing your work and turn off your notifications are some of the more common ones. But what about some lesser-known tips? Here are a few I have come across over the years that have saved me hours.
Buy the most powerful computer you can afford
I learned this years ago. I’ve been a Mac user since 1997, and in my early days, I would always buy the entry-level Mac — usually the iMac. The problem with purchasing the entry-level is you get the smallest memory (RAM) and slowest processor — typically the previous generation’s.
When the computer is new, you are unlikely to notice much difference, but your computer will become slower within a few months. The slower your computer becomes, the slower you become at doing your work.
You will save yourself so much time when you pay a little extra to upgrade the memory and get a more powerful processor.
Just to put this into perspective for you. My previous 2017 MacBook Pro with an Intel chip would export my 1080p YouTube videos from Adobe Premiere in around 45 minutes. I then upgraded to a 2020 M1 MacBook Pro, and the export time dropped to 12 minutes, and I was able to do other work while the export was taking place. Something I could not do with my Intel MacBook.
It’s not about how early you wake up. It’s how much sleep you get.
A few years ago, I began waking up at 5 AM and followed a version of Robin Sharma’s 5 AM Club. That is, for the first hour of your day, you spend 20 minutes exercising, 20 minutes planning and 20 minutes studying. I loved the quiet I got at that time of the morning, and it felt great.
The problem I had was once it got to around 11 AM, I was beat. While I was waking up early, I could not go to bed early to compensate for it. I do a lot of my coaching calls late at night (most of my clients are in North America, which is twelve to sixteen hours behind me)
Once I took the focus off the time I woke up and placed it on how much sleep I got, I began feeling fantastic all day. I had bundles of energy and got a lot more work done.
Learn keyboard shortcuts
This act alone will save you so much time each day. You will do some activities on your computer that you unconsciously reach for your mouse, move the arrow to the File menu, click, scroll down, and click again to achieve a particular result. On its own, that action may not seem much — perhaps two or three seconds — but when you add those two or three seconds up each day, you soon have two or three minutes, and then it’s just a matter of multiplication before we are talking hours.
The obvious ones, such as saving or printing a file and opening a document, should be the basics you learn. However, others, too, such as creating a new document and switching between apps without the need to use your mouse or trackpad, should also be in your arsenal.
Learn to search your computer
Search has come a long way over the last few years. Apple’s Spotlight is incredible, bringing your results in fractions of a second. Windows also has a robust system-wide search function. Learn to use them.
I used to spend so much time hunting around for documents I had been working on. Now, all I need to do is hit the command and spacebar on my laptop and type either a keyword, a date, or application and boom! I have the document I was looking for.
As a caveat here, you can save yourself even more time if you create a file naming system for yourself so you know what you are looking for.
Take a ten-minute break between sessions of work
What I mean by this one is if you have spent an hour clearing your email backlog, get up and go for a ten-minute walk around your office or home. I play with our puppy or clean up something in my studio or home.
While I am moving around, I decide what I need to do next, so when I return to my desk, I am refreshed, rested and ready to start a new work session.
No matter how busy you think you are, you will find that ten minutes of rest will enable you to concentrate for longer and reduce the chances of becoming fatigued and making mistakes.
Take a thirty-minute power-nap in the afternoon
This one trick will do so much for your energy levels and concentration. Winston Churchill, a power-napper, believed his afternoon naps enabled him to do a day and a half’s worth of work each day. And as a napper myself, I can confirm this is the case.
Now, I am self-employed, so I have a lot of control over my working hours. I start the day reasonably early (around 7:30 AM) and finish late. On the days I cannot have a nap, I find my concentration levels in the evening drop alarmingly.
Now, I understand you may not have the opportunity to take naps, but you should try to find a way to include them in your day. Perhaps have a nap at lunchtime, or if you are working at home, just lay down on the sofa for thirty minutes. It will do wonders for your productivity later in the day.
And there you go. While buying a powerful new computer may not be affordable or a priority for you today, the other five tips will cost you nothing. They will bring you so many productivity advantages.
Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me, and it helps other people see the story.
If you would like to receive all the productivity and time management content I create each week in one convenient email, you can subscribe to my weekly newsletter here
You can also learn more about what I do here on my website