16 tips for getting 90 percent of your work done before lunch

work smarter

“You can get 90 percent or more of your work done in the morning. How? I’m going to give you 16 amazing productivity tips, but first let me set the stage:

  • First, I’m defining work as stuff that you do (important stuff). Ideally, meetings can be shoved out of the picture.
  • Second, this approach is built on the Pareto principle. The Pareto principle states that 80 percent of your results come from 20 percen of your efforts. Getting your work done in the morning means that you can take a leaner approach to the important tasks —a smart approach.

1_Schedule your day the night before
Every day, you should list all your tasks and when you’re going to do them the following day. You will not be productive unless you plan out everything you’re going to do the next morning (but don’t schedule too much: keep your to-do schedule light to actually accomplish real work).

2_Clean your office the night before
Clutter in your office creates distractions. A sticky note on your desk that says ‘Call Bob ASAP!’ can throw off your whole day. Showing up to work in a spic-and-span environment helps you to think clearer and work harder.

3_Wake up at an ungodly hour
To really get stuff done, you’ve got to get up in time to make it happen. I recommend anytime from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. If your morning routine takes a little longer, bump your wake-up time back a little more. Obviously, you’ll need to adjust your bedtime accordingly.

4_Exercise
Scientific evidence shows that morning exercise can make us think better, work better and become more productive. Harvard’s John Ratey is the author of Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. He writes that exercise is essential for reaching ‘high-performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs’.

5_Stick to your schedule
Don’t let yourself veer off the course that you’ve mapped out. You have a limited amount of time. Don’t ruin the schedule. Take your schedule, allow it guide you, and you’ll be able to accomplish more.

6_Give yourself 20 minutes to reach flow
Flow is when you’re in the zone. This happens when you are completely absorbed in your activity, singlemindedly accomplishing things at a high level and rapid pace. It takes some time to reach flow, so if you don’t feel productive or engaged in your work, just give it some time.

7_Make 60-second decisions
Decision making is a time-draining vortex. When you’re faced with a decision in the course of your work, give yourself a one-minute limit. Your decision will be just as good, but it will take less time.

8_Wear headphones
Headphones can shut out distractions and keep you focused. Harvard Business Review advises workers to put on their headphones to be more productive.

9_Do the toughest tasks first
Mark Twain wrote: ‘If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day’. Brian Tracy turned this statement into an entire principal (and even wrote a book on it: Eat that frog!). If you get your biggest and ugliest task done first, the rest of the day will be massively productive.

10_Do your writing early on
Writing is one of the most mentally demanding tasks. However, writing also has the power of focusing your brain and improving your productivity. Do you writing early in the day, and you’ll improve both the quality of your writing and the rest of your day.

11_Don’t commute
If you typically have a lengthy work commute, do everything you can to avoid it. It’s not just wasted time that you want to guard against. It’s the mental havoc. A commute is one of the most stressful parts of the day. Starting your workday with that level of stress can completely ruin your productivity.

12. Don’t hold meetings (even over the phone)
If you’ve been in business for very long, you know that most meetings are a waste of time. Avoid meetings if at all possible.

13_Don’t check your email first thing
The electronic communication pipeline can be as destructive as meetings. Sure, you need to deal with email. It’s important, but don’t let it swallow your day by starting out with it.

14_Stick to a routine
If you do something repeatedly, you’ll be able to do it better and faster each time. Once you find a routine, stick with it. Your routine is the ramp to your productivity.

15_Make yourself comfortable
Do whatever you need to do to position yourself for success. If that means showering, shaving, eating breakfast, journaling, meditating, feeding the dog or opening the blinds, then do it. When you accomplish these preparatory tasks, you are creating an environment that will make you more productive.

16. Reward yourself at a certain time
Set the clock (a countdown timer if you have to). At a certain point, you’re going to stop. So, stop. Break out the kazoos, throw some confetti, and do your happy dance. It’s time to reward yourself.

Getting 90 percent of your work done in the morning just means that you might get more than 100 percent of your work done every day.”

Neil Patel co-founder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar and KISSmetrics

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6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself

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“Everyone knows that leading a company is one of the toughest gigs around. Whether running a small business or a multi-national corporation, CEOs have to manage time, resources, and multiple demands while finding the time and head space to make decisions and plot strategies that will determine the course of their business.

Check out this list of CEO-proven tips that you can apply to any facet of your life:

1. Take breaks every 90 minutes. Human bodies have an energy cycle that operates at 90-minute intervals throughout the day. When we’ve been working on something for an hour and a half or longer, it’s natural that our alertness levels will go down and our attention will wander or we’ll feel drowsy (or start checking Twitter or Facebook).

2. Make yourself uninterruptable sometimes. There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting into the zone working on a big project, and then being interrupted by a co-worker or boss who drops by your desk. Worse, research showsit can take up to 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption.

3. Manage your energy, not just your time. You know it’s important to budget your time wisely, but it can actually be more effective to also manage your energy. So try to optimize your workday by doing your most concentration-intensive tasks during your peak hours, those golden hours when your energy levels are at their highest, and avoid meetings during these hours.

4. Don’t be a slave to email. Instead of feeling that you have to respond to emails the minute they hit your inbox, you can save time and stay focused by setting a schedule for checking and responding to email (for example, once in the morning and once at the end of the day).

5. Keep your emails short and sweet. CEOs don’t have time for reading novel-length emails — or writing them, either. Andrew Torba, co-founder of Kuhcoon, even goes so far as to sometimes write one word emails and suggests treating your emails as if they have the same 140-character limit of Twitter.

6. Delegate, delegate, delegate. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feeling that you have to do everything yourself. Delegating, however, is one of the best ways to manage your time. Passing projects off to other members of the team lightens your load and lets you focus on the projects that you do best. Delegation is the most important fuel for productivity.

Tackling your to-do list may sometimes seem impossible, but if you try making these small changes from the masters, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish during your workday.”

by Nina Tamburello for The Muse

21 time management tips to hack productivity

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“Managing my time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into my day as possible. It’s about simplifying how I work, doing things faster, and relieving stress.

1_Complete most important tasks first (this is the golden rule of time management; each day, identify the two or three tasks that are the most crucial to complete, and do those first)

2_Learn to say “no”

3_Sleep at least 7-8 hours

4_Devote your entire focus to the task at hand

5_Get an early start

6_Don’t allow unimportant details to drag you down

7_Turn key tasks into habits.

8_Be conscientious of amount of TV/Internet/gaming time.

9_Delineate a time limit in which to complete task.

10_Leave a buffer-time between tasks

11_Don’t think of the totality of your to-do list

12_Exercise and eat healthily

13_Do less (do less things that create more value, rather than more things that are mostly empty)

14_Utilize weekends, just a little bit

15_Create organizing systems

16_Do something during waiting time

17_Lock yourself in

18_Commit to your plan to do something

19_Batch related tasks together

20_Find time for stillness

21_Eliminate the non-essential

22_One last tip (the best one!): enjoyment should always be the goal; work can be play

We get so caught up in busyness that we forget to enjoy what we’re doing. Even when we focus on working smarter, we’re still often too focused on getting things done. This should never be the point. Always ask yourself: What can I do to spend more time enjoying what I’m doing? The goal should be to arrange your commitments in a way that you’re happy living out the details of your daily life, even while you’re working.”

Jordan Bates english teacher in South Korea who loves reading novels and spending time in the woods

5 things you should do every day before breakfast

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“You can’t add more hours to your day, but you can make the most out of those hours by being more productive. Here are five things you can make part of your early morning routine that will help add focus, energy and speed to the rest of your workday:

1_Wake up early
Giving yourself an extra hour in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. You can accomplish your morning goals, stay relaxed and leave for work in the right state of mind. This may be the hardest goal to turn into a habit, but remember, it’s self-reinforcing. Do this for a week, and you’ll find that you’ve increased your productivity enough that you’ll have time to go to bed at a reasonable hour to make waking up early less painful.

2_Exercise
30 minutes of moderate exercise equates to about two hours’ worth of extra productivity over an eight-hour work day. Get this done in the morning, and the boosted productivity you’ll gain will affect every hour you spend at the office. As an added bonus, your exercise time never gets overrun by emergencies and extra-long meetings.

3_Review your goals
Take 10 minutes first thing in the morning to review your most important goals for the day. That simple check-in with yourself will keep those goals in the front of your mind as the day tries to distract you from getting them done. Make a list of the two or three things that, if that’s all you accomplished, would let you go to bed at night feeling as if you’d made real progress.

4_Make a to-don’t list
Everybody has a short list of habits they want to quit. Whatever your to-don’ts are, write them down and then review them along with your other goals every morning to help you keep your eyes on that particular prize.

5_Meditate
You don’t have to sit with your legs crossed and chant ‘Om’ to meditate. Simply take 5 or 10 minutes to breathe, relax and focus on the things you find most important. Depending on your goals and your to-don’ts, this can be a formal relaxation practice, positive visualization exercises, prayer or just thinking intently about what doing your best that day will mean to your life, career, business and family.

Once you’ve accomplished all five of these tasks, eat breakfast before heading out for your day.”

Jason Brick writer and public speaker, freelance

more hours = more procrastination

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“Ben Pieratt recently put it nicely: ‘I find that when I give myself more hours the only thing that scales up is procrastination. There’s little difference in my productivity in a 80 or 40 hour work week’. When you’re tired, stressed, and burnt out, it takes longer to generate creative solutions. Done work becomes more important than great or even good work.”

Jason James UI designer

how to delegate

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“To make sure that your investment in an intern, contractor, or employee pays off, follow these strategies:

1) Block out specific tasks and timelines before you hire
Prior to bringing someone on, clarify exactly what you want him or her to do. “Help with administrative tasks” isn’t specific enough. Think of specific job responsibilities and outcomes such as “write monthly newsletter,” “follow up with clients,” or “organize events.” Then estimate about how much time you think these activities will take. (Make sure to plan for more time than they would take you, since you’re the pro.)
Once you’ve define the specific activities, you should start to get a sense of how many hours a week you need someone to work for you or if you only need help around certain times, such as the holidays or a big conference. This clarity on what exactly you expect others to do for you will help you look for the right skill set and hourly commitment (and give you something to measure against after you hire).

2) For the first few weeks: you’re the teacher
If you’ve found someone who is smart and eager to learn, you can expect that in time she will have the capacity to act on her own. But at the beginning, you need to slow down and explain the action steps required for each assignment. This means not making assumptions about what she knows or doesn’t know, providing both good and bad examples, and offering to review work when it’s still in the initial stages.
This keeps the person you manage from heading down a divergent path or producing work that you need to redo. Your new hire can be the most entrepreneurial self-starter in the world, but if you don’t take the time to teach her the ropes, you put her in a position to fail. Remember: delegate, but don’t abdicate.

3) Establish a communication rhythm
Constant interruptions with questions throughout your day have a huge negative impact on productivity. Conversely, never knowing the status of projects can leave you on edge. From the beginning, set expectations for when you both should communicate with each other. It’s likely the work will determine the frequency of status updates. For example, weekly one-on-ones work with some individuals, while others will need check-ins daily or multiple times a day. Clarify how frequently you want communication and the mode that will work best, such as e-mail, instant message, phone, or in-person meetings. This puts your mind at ease and helps set expectations for your new hire.

4) Track the tasks
It’s very easy for to-do items to get lost or forgotten in the swirl of activities. One of the best ways to ensure that what you delegate gets done is to set up a tracking system. This could look like a shared document, task list, or project management program. The tool isn’t as important as the purpose of both you and the person you hired having a clear understanding of what needs to get done and if it has been accomplished.

5) Give feedback, early and often
Not telling someone that something she’s doing or not doing is driving you crazy until you’re ready to fire her is not helpful to you or to her. Give feedback early and often about what’s going right and about areas where you would like to see improvement. Set up monthly lunches or quarterly meetings where you can each focus on the big picture of what is working and what isn’t. When you give ideas for growth, keep your focus on specific enhancements that can be made to the work instead of giving blanket judgments of the work, and even more confidence-busting, criticisms of the person’s character.”

Elisabeth Grace Saunders founder of Real Life & Time Coaching & Training

3 things that empower your team

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“It’s not about motivational posters, productivity seminars or catchy slogans. It’s more about a culture that encourages open communication, provides plenty of context and requires accountability.”

Dan Sanker president & CEO at CaseStack inc.

stand up every 20 minutes

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“Sitting is slowly killing us.
I recently discovered that standing up every 20 minutes exponentially increases my productivity.
Studies have shown that standing up every so often:
_Decreases your chance of diabetes
_Decreases your chance of heart disease
_Increases blood flow”

Tony Diepenbrock IV entrepreneur

8 things productive people do during the workday

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“Truly productive people aren’t focused on doing more things; this is actually the opposite of productivity. If you really want to be productive, you’ve got to make a point to do fewer things.

1. Create a smaller to-do list
Getting things accomplished during your workday shouldn’t be about doing as much as possible in the sanctioned eight hours.

2. Take breaks
Go take a walk, grab something to eat, workout, or meditate – give your brain some resting time.

3. Follow the 80/20 rule
Did you know that only 20 percent of what you do each day produces 80 percent of your results?

4. Start your day by focusing on yourself
If you begin your morning by checking your email, it allows others to dictate what you accomplish.

5. Take on harder tasks earlier in the day
Knock out your most challenging work when your brain is most fresh.

6. Pick up the phone
Email is a productivity killer and usually a distraction from tasks that actually matter.

7. Create a system
If you know certain things are ruining your daily productivity, create a system for managing them.

8. Don’t confuse productivity with laziness
While no one likes admitting it, sheer laziness is the No. 1 contributor to lost productivity.”

Ilya Pozin founder of Ciplex