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Beat the clock

Let’s face it: Navigating through multiple responsibilities at home and work leaves us with a miles-long to-do list and not enough time to get through it. Whether it’s a barrage of notifications from our devices or endless scrolling through social media, something almost always distracts us.

And while there may not be one single magic answer to help us use our time wisely, there are numerous productivity hacks we can apply each day to help us accomplish more…in less time. But first, let’s talk about why productivity is important.

The importance of productivity

When people are more productive, it can lead to additional benefits, such as less stress and burnout, a healthier work-life balance, and a boost in mood and self-esteem. However, with many distractions throughout the day, 70% of employees admit to feeling distracted on the job, according to research on productivity by Zippia.

Zippia’s research also shows that distractions such as checking social media, reading news websites and chatting with coworkers lead the average employee to be productive for only 2 hours and 53 minutes a day. (Hint: That’s 31% of the average eight-hour workday.)

You may find this surprising, but being productive also includes making time for self-care, breaks and relaxation because it helps boost creativity and the ability to focus. Make more of the limited time in your day and beat the clock with these productivity hacks.

Plan your day ahead of time

To prevent the 5:00 p.m., “Where did the day go?” question, take time at the end of each day to plan your schedule for the next day. Divide tasks into 30-60 minute intervals and ensure breaks of 5-15 minutes. This will help you stay on task and have a plan for exactly what you need to accomplish during the day.

Define your top three tasks

Looking at your to-do list, choose the top three tasks you need to accomplish that day and make those a priority. List them on a sticky note or a notes app to keep track of your progress. Anything else you can get done outside of those three is the cherry on top.

Focus with time management

If you struggle with staying on task or even getting started, it may be time to start using a time management technique. The Pomodoro technique breaks a task down into time intervals of 25 minutes to focus with a five-minute break. Another method to try is the 52-17 technique, where you focus on one task for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

Tackle your Everest

For some, even getting started with the simplest task can be problematic; for others, it’s difficult to start large tasks. Whether your “Everest” is tackling the smallest or biggest task first, just rip off the bandage and start. Either way, once the task is completed, you can check something off your list…and chances are, you’ll find more motivation to continue working through your to-do list.

Don’t multitask

As productive as multitasking sounds, some studies show that only 2.5% of people can multitask effectively. That means the remaining 97.5% of the population isn’t actually multitasking. Attempting to multitask can decrease productivity. To be more productive, focus on one task at a time.

Mute notifications

Research by Zippia shows that refocusing after a distraction takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds. To prevent wasting time, turn off distractions, such as email or text notifications, while working. Set your status on messaging apps to “do not disturb,” so you can focus on the task at hand.

Hack your productivity

Taking the time to plan your day, choosing your most important tasks and muting outside distractions will help you focus and give you much-needed time back each day. Use the hacks we’ve outlined to make the most of your days. The clock is ticking.

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