I blame my background in Supply Chain for my constant desire to minimize steps and time needed to accomplish various tasks. I’m always looking for ways to improve efficiency in all aspects of my life. Some may call it laziness, but I like to think of it as pure genius.
Below, I will share a few productivity hacks I’ve come across over time and use to free up my schedule. I definitely recommend you at least consider trying a few to see how much more time you’ll have to do things you really want to do.
1. Pack a bag of essentials no matter where you go.
Here’s what I carry in my backpack at all times:
- A portable charger for electronics
- A pair of bluetooth headphones
- A notebook and pen or a tablet
- Healthy snacks (protein bars, Complete Cookie, etc.) and water
- A book that interests me
This single step has increased my productivity tenfold. Any time I’m sitting in the lobby waiting for my car to get an oil change, I’m not just watching Jerry Springer on TV or scrolling through Facebook. I’m usually getting work done or reading a good book – I never waste time reading “People” magazine or whatever junk is on those lobby tables.
Here’s another example. There may be times when I’m meeting with someone to buy or sell something. Let’s say I’m on somebody’s side of town, but he won’t be free for another hour. Since I might as well stay close to them instead of trying home and back, I can just pop into a Starbucks and get some reading or work done for that hour.
With headphones and my iPad, I can learn on Udemy or watch YouTube videos. I tend to watch/listen to videos on my phone and use my iPad to get work done since I have this Logitech keyboard that makes typing much easier.
Snacks and water make sure that I don’t get hungry and stop at random places where I might spend too much money on foods that aren’t always the healthiest options. I try to avoid eating out too often, especially since I always have a bunch of food in my fridge at all times.
2. Listen to podcasts or audiobooks when traveling.
Whether you’re driving and are stuck in traffic or you’re sitting on a plane on a flight somewhere, consider listening to podcasts or audiobooks. This allows you to transform down time that is usually wasted into very productive time. I’ve knocked out multiple books each month by listening to 30 minutes on a drive to visit my parents or 20 minutes on a drive to a friend’s house.
You can even listen and learn while jogging or doing chores. Handwashing dishes? Listen to a podcast! Mopping the floor? Listen to an audiobook!
This is, of course, entirely up to you. You might normally prefer music, but if you’re like me, you’ll find that sometimes you just keep skipping song after song, yearning for something more. If that’s the case, it might be time to try something new.
3. Use tools like Trello or Wunderlist to organize your projects and to-do lists.
I’ve tried all sorts of things for trying to stay organized. I’ve written goals on sticky notes, on my white board, and on the notes app on my phone. More often than not, I would end up forgetting about what I noted down using different tools and missed a lot of action items. Below are a few tools that have helped me stay on top of things:
Trello has an app and website that are both very well done. You can post cards of various topics and even collaborate with others. Think of Google Drive collaboration but with a card-based organization tool.
The app mentions that “Trello gives you perspective over all your projects, at work and at home.” Whether it’s managing a team, writing an epic screenplay, or just making a grocery list, Trello is your sidekick for getting things done and staying organized.
Some options that Trello offers:
- Create boards to organize anything you’re working on
- Use them solo or invite coworkers, friends, and family to collaborate
- Customize workflows for different projects
- Add checklists of “To-Dos” on cards
- Assign tasks to yourself and coworkers
- Comment on items with your friends
- Upload photos and videos
- Attach files
Trello is free to use forever with options to upgrade to Gold for “loads of extra fun and functionality.” The free version offers so many great features and is worth checking out.
Wunderlist is a tool that allows you to build checklists for any category. I’ve got different lists for workouts I’m doing that week as well as groceries I need to order. You can set due dates and even share tasks with others so that they can see it on their calendar as well.
- Add, organize and schedule your to-dos from your phone, tablet, or computer
- Set due dates and reminders to ensure you never forget important deadlines (or birthday gifts) again
- Use subtasks, notes, files, and comments to add important details to your to-dos
- Create lists to help sort your to-dos for home, work and everything in between
- Share lists and collaborate on your to-dos with family, friends and colleagues
- Be productive from anywhere, thanks to Wunderlist’s apps for your phone, smart watch, tablet and computer
Wunderlist is free to download and use. There is a Pro version to give unlimited access to Files, Assigning and Subtasks for accomplishing even more for just $4.99 a month.
If you haven’t checked out my last blog post, I’ve been using a GoalTracker template that I put together and am using to track weekly and daily goals. It’s on Google Drive so that I can manage a few simple priorities each day from my phone, iPad, or computer.
4. Batch your chores or to-dos.
Don’t just pick up your laundry, go home, then go wash your car, then go home again, and then take the dog to the dog park. Try to combine as many activities as possible together. Set an hour aside and have your checklist (maybe even on Wunderlist or my GoalTracker file) ready to reference. Knock everything off the list one after the other, and enjoy the freedom of having the rest of the day to do whatever you like.
Or you can even take it a step further. Order groceries online. I’ve used HEB Curbside to order everything and set a pickup date / time. I simply park, text my parking space to a number, and have groceries loaded into my trunk. I’ve been meaning to check out Instacart as well to have groceries delivered directly to my house. If I never pushed a shopping cart around a busy grocery store again, I think I would be okay with it.
5. Optimize your route and plan your day around where you will be.
Going somewhere? Why not drop of laundry on the way back to kill two birds with one stone? It does kill me a little inside when I have a friend living in the ‘burbs that wants to hang out. I can justify a 30 minute drive from time to time to see friends. But when I do make those drives, I take the opportunity to do one or two things along the route while I’m in the area.
For garage sale hunting in regards to my reselling side-hustle, I like to use RouteXL to optimize my route based on entered addresses. It may be worth checking out if you have a lot to do but don’t need to do them in any particular order.
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