CO - HR Innovation

Four Lifehacks To Be More Productive Now

Four Lifehacks To Be More Productive Now

Four Lifehacks To Be More Productive Now

  • Here are four daily life-hacks to help you to be more productive now, all backed by neuroscience that gives us a glimpse into why these strategies are effective.

First, create Momentum in the morning - hit the ground running. Neuroscience will tell you this creates intrinsic, productivity boosting context for your day. Before you go to bed each night, identify one thing you can do in the morning before getting caught-up in the swirl of regular routines, email, etc. Write the small task or goal down, then get it done when you first wake up. This starts your day with momentum towards productivity. Even better, wake-up earlier to take advantage of valuable morning time. This is a >well-established rule of successful people: use "morning time" wisely and effectively. Morning tasks I've created while sipping a fresh cup of coffee include: sending a motivational message to my teenagers (#aimhigh2017 on IG, Twitter, Facebook to find them), knocking off the weekly online grocery shopping, completing a quick morning run, calling someone during my morning commute.

Second, slice your To Do Lists into brief, manageable lists and categories. Neuroscience says: Get Out of Your Head! Write things down to reduce load on the brain's neurotransmitters. Make To Do Lists to be more productive, but keep each list short & manageable. Short lists help your brain to stay focused. Most people don't realise that long lists overwhelm the brain, covertly throwing it into overload. It’s fine to have lengthy life bucket lists, but keep visible Daily and Weekly lists short.

Yes, specific goals are important but don't get hooked on everything having to be too specific. While SMART goals help people stay focused, a paradox can form when SMART goals, unless deeply intrinsic, tax the brain of motivation and focus. The new science of goal setting suggests breaking goals up into bucket-lists and categories: family, adventure, relaxation, quiet time, action, sports and break work projects into buckets, too. You can use intrinsically motivating goals to bridge initiative across into "must get done" goals carrying more extrinsic motivating factors. (That Neuroscience will tell you, in reality, are much less motivating.) Regardless, keep immediate tasks in front of you to a concise, focused list. Get creative, too: I use scrap paper, recycled envelopes and brightly coloured pens to craft precision to-do lists.

>

Third, STOP multi-tasking. Focus on one thing at a time. Neuroscience will tell you that the brain is LESS effective when asked to multi-task. Curiously, when tested, those who don't believe this fact and insist, "ME? I can multi-task," are in fact the LEAST effective when attempting to multi-task. You can argue as much as you like but multi-tasking diminishes productivity. The moral of the story? Get focused.

Fourth, BURSTS of Work: Neuroscience will also tell you that after 20 - 25 minutes of focus, the brain's cup runneth over. This is the basis of the >Pomodoro Technique, a very popular and effective time management tool advocating 25 minute bursts of focused concentration or work followed by a five minute brain break. My favourite app in support of this approach is >Tide, which provides relaxing white noise while one is hard at work. However, it's possible to find your focus balance. Some experts advocate >50 minute or even >90 minute bursts, then take a break. But the point is: The Burst Works!

Start today with Morning Momentum, Focused To-Do Lists, Say No to Multi-Tasking and Build Your Day with Bursts. What other techniques and insights do you have or use to be more productive? 

  • Charles Caldwell
    Charles Caldwell
    Human Resources Director, English Schools Foundation (ESF) Hong Kong

    Originally from Canada, Charles holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Administrative Studies, Post-Graduate Diploma in Asia Pacific Management Studies and MBA from the Kellogg – HKUST program. In 2001 the Asia Pacific HR community recognized Charles with fourawards including China Staff magazine’s prestigious HK Manager of the Year Award. In 2002 Charles was nominated for “Outstanding Contribution to HR in Hong Kong & China.” Charles has also received several other Hong Kong HR Awards and ERC service awards. At 16 years old, Charles started his career as an entrepreneur in Toronto. The success of his company landed him on the cover Canadian Business Magazine. The formative years as a general manager planted a fascination for everything leadership, culture and insightful. After joining Landmark Education, Charles moved to Hong Kong in 1996 where he worked for Achieve Global, Rockwell Automation Citrix Systems and Juniper Networks in senior APAC HR roles. In April 2011, Charles career had a change of season when he became the Head of HR for English Schools Foundation.

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