The 8 Best GTD Productivity Tools: Work Hacks for Accomplishing More in Less Time
Has it been a while since you’ve been ‘in the zone’ at work? Do you need to get more done, but there just isn’t enough hours in the day? When you maximize the time you do have, you can work smarter—not longer, harder or in a more stressful manner. That’s the beauty of these eight productivity tools—they’ll allow you to do more with what you’ve got. From the tightest deadline to the most time intensive project, learn how to zap distractions and enhance focus like a pro!
Know Your Peak Productivity Time of the Day
Do you know the times of the day (or night) when you perform at your best? While you can’t expect to stay ‘in the zone’ morning, noon and night, you can utilize your ‘peak times’—those times of the day when your energy is up, your motivation is high and your creative mind is cranking out powerful content, juicy ideas and innovative improvements for everyone at large. You only have so much energy in the day, so in order to use it as wisely as possible, you have to know how you work at your best—no matter how many other things you have on your plate.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it take you a while to wake up, get energized and motivated in the morning?
- Do you go full steam ahead from 9-12noon, but have less energy after lunch?
- Do you feel energized in the afternoon, but slowdown in the evening?
- Do you like to schedule appointments and meetings in the late afternoon and evening, since that’s when you feel most inspired and awake?
Knowledge is power—and the more you know when your peak attention, concentration and energetic time zone is, the better you can take advantage of that time—and get more done! If you’re a morning person, schedule your most important meetings, tasks and projects to hit before lunch. If you’re an afternoon person, deal with the emails and phone correspondence first thing in the morning, and reserve that brain power for after lunch—when you can really utilize it!
Improve Your Posture, Improve Your Focus
What is the drive behind your productivity? Just think about it: if you aren’t motivated, it’s hard to get much done. If you don’t feel confident in your ability to be successful, it’s even tougher to finish the project at hand. Observe anyone with poor posture and they’ll look disengaged, uninterested and unenthusiastic about what they do—which almost always amounts to a low rate of productivity on the job.
When you improve your posture by sitting upright in your chair and align your spine, your energy improves and your attitude gets a ‘tune up.’ Your posture may just require a small adjustment, but it amounts to big time results!
You’ve Got To Kill the Clutter
Your clutter’s got to go—your success rate on the job depends on it. There’s nothing worse than getting to your office, sitting down, staring at your computer and feeling uninspired and enthusiastic for the eight hours ahead. Look around. See that pile of papers on your desk that don’t need your immediate attention? Place them in a folder and stick them away in a drawer until next Monday. Do you see your client’s brochures clogging your work space? Stash those away so you have a clean desk to work on. Cleanliness cultivates a creative work environment—after all, how can you come up with that winning idea, innovative pitch or slam dunk presentation when your clutter won’t allow you to concentrate on the project at hand?
Remove the papers, stacks of folders and disarray of sticky notes that decorate your desk and give each one of them an appropriate place—by being out of sight! The less clutter you have on your desk, the more opportunity you give yourself to be focused, alert and free of distraction.
Be a Breakfast Hero (Don’t Forget the Latte’s!)
Not so much a productivity tool, but a motivational one, a little incentive now and again is a great way to kick start your morning (and those around you) for success! You can’t ‘do more, achieve more and create more’ if you’re in a stagnant frame of mind.
Feeling stuck in your comfort zone with work?
Do you want to break out of the same ideas and the same frame of mind for each and every project you take on?
Do you want to cultivate a brave, daring method of achieving work?
Here’s the fact about the matter: people are prone to reciprocating attitudes and behaviors. When you extend yourself, they will extend themselves to you. Be a morning breakfast hero from time to time, and make a stop at your favorite local coffee shop or breakfast burrito stand. Buy the most important meal of the day for yourself and everyone in the office. When you give out thoughtfulness, a helping hand, or even a breakfast burrito to your colleagues from time to time, they’ll do the same for you. It’s not a selfish move, but a smart one. It’s about being a team player. It’s about building connection in the workplace. It’s about comradery and support, and bonding with your community at work that has the same overall goal you do—to be as successful and happy in their professional goals as possible. Being a ‘breakfast hero’ won’t cost you much, but the payoff will be priceless.
Accomplish More By Thinking a Week Ahead
You know what your usual Monday morning routine consists of: rushing out the door, getting stressed about the traffic and being bombarded by a flooded inbox of emails marked ‘urgent.’ Prevent next week’s procrastination by thinking ahead—a week ahead to be exact—and you’ll work smarter, not harder. Here’s a cheat sheet for accomplishing just that:
- Start planning for the week ahead by getting specific. It takes time to get organized, which is why if you’re waiting for the arrival of a new week to create a ‘to-do’ list, your day is already feeling out of control! Start creating your list the week before (by Thursday or Friday at the latest) and add to it as thoughts, goals, and a plan for action come to mind.
Divide the list into two sections and label them ‘mini goals’ and ‘major goals.’ Your ‘mini goal’ column should be devoted to smaller, less time intensive tasks such as clearing your inbox back to zero, and scheduling interviews and meetings. Devote your ‘major goals’ column to the challenging tasks at hand: presentations you have to prepare, spreadsheets to complete, websites to create, and weekly deadlines that require preparation.
- Design a rewards program for yourself—and stick to it! Without a reward system in place, it’s tough to keep up the momentum all week long. With so much to do (all of which you will accomplish with a strategic ‘to-do list’ in place) you need fuel to keep the fire burning. Designate a weekly reward which you’ll allow yourself when you reach Friday evening or Saturday and make it something that will really get you excited: an hour long massage, a nice dinner out with friends or an outdoor activity you’ve been wanting to try out.
- Show up and be present. Every day is a new opportunity to put your best foot forward, be mentally present and give each task at hand—big or small—your attention and devotion. Start each day by making a commitment to yourself to put forth 110 percent. Reward yourself on your lunch hour to some fresh air and sunshine, and give yourself a break away from your smartphone. After a nutritious brain boosting meal, commit to an afternoon packed with adrenaline and excitement!
Avoid the Gossip Pit
Gossipy co-workers that entice you to spill your office secrets or offer up a ‘tell all’ about your weekend doesn’t do a thing for your work flow. Every time you engage in their gossipy conversation topics, you slow down—and encourage a place of work where cliques are on the rise and down someone is always a victim.
Ask yourself: where does a gossipy mentality live in your office building?
Is it by the coffee maker, or the water cooler?
Who are the ‘Queen (or King) bees of the gossip hive? If I get sucked into conversation that has gone ‘gossipy,’ what are some ways I can politely but assertively get out of it?
If you can’t altogether avoid the occasional gossip conversation or two, plan an escape route. Let them know you have to excuse yourself so you catch up on dozens of emails, or you have to leave to meet an old friend for a late lunch. Don’t let anything or anyone deter you from your professional goals and productive work week!
Network Your Heart Out
If you’re a writer and you get writer’s block, that’s a problem. If you’re an architect and bored by your own designs, your passion for what you do is on standby. But—when you put effort into reinventing yourself and your craft, you can become more creative, innovative and skilled than ever before!
If you want to enhance how often you get ‘into the zone’ or how much you accomplish on a given day, think bigger. Go outside of your comfort zone (aka: your cubicle) and network your heart out! As another opportunity to collaborate, networking is a great way to meet like-minded people that share a love for your passion. What can all of your contribute together? Who can they possibly put you in touch with—that you’d never get the chance to meet otherwise?
The possibilities are endless when you take yourself out of the office and into new and unfamiliar environments. When you do, you’ll change. You’ll get grow. You’ll get better. And, quite possibly, you’ll become the most productive ‘you’ you’ve ever been.
Develop a ‘Motivational Mindset’ for Positive Results (All Week Long!)
How many times a month (or a week or even a day!) do you let negative thoughts come between you and the career you’ve worked so hard to achieve? 5 times? 10 times? 50 times? Whether it’s happening on a conscious level or not, any thought of self-doubt, frustration or a lack of confidence can affect your opportunity to be productive—and for that matter—to be great at what you do. Comparing how your talent matches up to another? Do your thoughts keep coming back to a criticism you received from your boss, which is preventing you from concentrating on the task at hand, and being confident about the work you’re doing?
Practice the ‘light switch’ method for a better mindset, and you’ll nip each negative thought in the bud. Here’ how to do it:
- Sit quiet, sit still and let the negative thoughts pop into your mind. Negative thoughts can be like that pesky neighbor you can’t altogether get rid of. While you can’t find ways to eliminate it from showing up every single minute, you can use the practice of deep breathing and distraction to prevent it from dominating your mind. Give yourself about three minutes to let the negative thoughts come in as they may. Don’t try to dismiss them, but just observe them one by one.
- Close your eyes and imagine being a dark room, with one light switch in the corner. Now, close your eyes, and kindly dismiss your negative thoughts, one by one. Give them permission to come back another time. Imagine that you are in a dark room. It’s dark everywhere you can see, except for in the back corner of the room, where a ray of sunlight is coming in. It gives light to a portion of the wall, in which there is a light switch. You walk over to it, and click the light switch on. The room is now bright, and everything in it is clear.
- As the light switch turns on, your negative thoughts turn off. What else is clear (besides the objects in the room) is the thoughts of certainty and confidence in your mind—which was previously hidden behind your negative thoughts. You can squash thoughts of doubt and fear any time you want—all you need is to flip the ‘light switch’ on in your mind. When you do, you’ll enhance your productivity, confidence and get more done!
There’s no better time than right now to dismiss distracting thoughts, avoid those ‘gossip pits’ and remove the clutter. When you do, you’ll enhance your focus, drive and creativity to get more done!