We all dream of having a productive everyday life at work, home, school, or other responsibilities. However, staying focused consistently is often challenging between the countless emails, hours of meetings, errands, and tasks.
When you have a lot on your plate, productivity hacks are helpful so you can work through your pile of tasks. Over the years, people have devised new and creative ways to beat the clock and manage their responsibilities more easily and efficiently.
To help you out, we’ve compiled 28 of the best productivity hacks to make the most of your time, boost your productivity, and crush your goals in 2023.
Productivity Hacks on Time Management
Time management plays a critical role in productivity, as it helps us make the most of our limited time each day. These productivity ideas are focused on innovative ways to manage time and prioritize our most important tasks:
1. Using an effective to-do list
Our memory can only take us so far, especially when we have multiple tasks to do in one day. To-do lists will help your time management by organizing your thoughts cohesively. Here are some other benefits of a to-do list:
- Visualize your goals
- Prioritize your tasks
- Remember all your tasks
- Provide a sense of accomplishment when you complete a task from the list
But it’s not just about creating a to-do list. It’s about creating the to-do list that works best for your personality and work style. Here are some ways to make an effective to-do list:
- Simple/basic lists – This type of to-do list works best for small and short-term tasks and involves jotting down your tasks in a straightforward way.
- Idea dump lists – Idea dump or mind dump to-do lists differ from a basic list because you list all your tasks, thoughts, or ideas as they come to mind. This way, you ensure you don’t forget anything while allowing you to reorganize the tasks later on into new to-do lists.
- Priority-based lists – This to-do list ranks each task based on the order of importance or urgency. Use this list to focus on critical tasks before completing the less important ones.
- Schedule-based lists – Schedule-based lists assigns each task to a time slot. This means you avoid over-committing to tasks while managing your time more effectively.
- Category-based lists – In this list, you organize your tasks based on categories, such as work, errands, or personal to-dos.
- Project-based lists – If you handle different projects, create a project-based to-do list so you can monitor each necessary task per project.
- Goal-Based to-do lists – Goal-based lists benefit people who like to see the bigger picture and remember how each task contributes to their long-term goals.
2. Using time-blocking techniques
The right time-blocking method might just be the productivity trick you need to organize how you complete your tasks. Experiment with different ways and find the one that works best for you.
Here are some of the most common time-blocking techniques you can apply to your everyday tasks:
- Time-blocking – This involves dividing your day into time blocks for each specific task. This helps you focus on one task at a time, with a targeted time to do and finish it.
- Timeboxing – Timeboxing is different from time-blocking because it focuses on creating an internal deadline rather than scheduling when to do a task. You set aside a period of time for one task, then move on when the time is up. This way, you can limit your time on each task.
- Batching – Batching means you group similar tasks together and complete them in a block.
- Pomodoro Technique – The Pomodoro Technique involves a series of 25-minute blocks of working time, followed by a five-minute break each time. Then, you can take an extended break of 15-30 minutes after four work blocks. This helps you to break down your work into manageable chunks, which improves your focus.
- The 80/20 rule – The 80/20 rule denotes focusing 20% of your efforts to generate 80% of the results. This means you identify the tasks that impact your goals most and focus on them.
- The 2-minute rule – This rule simply states that if you can do a task or action in two minutes or less, don’t delay and do it right away.
- Eating the frog – Eating the frog involves identifying your most complex or difficult task for the day and completing it before any other task.
- Eisenhower Matrix – The Eisenhower Matrix is a method that categorizes your tasks based on their urgency and importance. It is usually represented by a quadrant that rules out what tasks to do, what to schedule, what to delegate, and what to eliminate.
Time-blocking is an effective tactic many people use to become more productive. Amy Weiher, Founder and Creative Director at Weiher Creative, explains:
“For those of us that used procrastination as a way to get nearly everything done while in school, setting a timer for your work tasks is a great way to artificially recreate that feeling of pressure you need in order to perform at your best. One side effect of this is that it also makes your productivity increase exponentially. Give yourself a time limit to complete whatever task is at hand and don’t be generous with the amount of time you allot yourself. When the timer goes off, you have to stop working on the task and move on to the next one. Even if you haven’t completed the task. It essentially becomes a game of whether or not you can beat the clock to get your work done and helps keep you in the zone. I use it frequently, especially on tasks I don’t necessarily enjoy doing.”
3. Scheduling the day before it begins
Scheduling the day even before it begins will help you stay more organized and purposeful about each task you will do the next day. Not only does it improve your time management, but it also helps to minimize the probability of decision fatigue.
This is one of the productivity hacks that minimizes the number of decisions you’d need to make during the day and conserves mental energy for more critical tasks.
Scheduling your tasks involves creating an effective to-do list, including break times and a schedule for recreational activities, hobbies, and other stress-relieving activities.
4. Scheduling a “power” hour
Scheduling a “power” hour means setting aside a specific hour every day for your most important task. It can be an effective way to focus your energy on high-priority tasks that you complete in a short amount of time.
Your “power” hour should have your 100% energy. During this hour, you must eliminate all distractions and focus only on the task.
5. Use the “touch it once” rule
The “touch it once” rule involves completing a task once you “touch” or receive it instead of putting it off. This way, you complete tasks immediately rather than procrastinate.
If you can’t finish the task immediately, the “touch it once” rule can be applied in deciding what to do with it: delegating it to someone else, filing it for later, or eliminating the task if it’s unnecessary.
“Single-tasking” involves focusing on one thing until it’s done. This is opposed to multitasking, which some studies show decreases productivity.
Concentrating on one task at a time ensures your time is used as efficiently as possible. You just have to ensure you eliminate all potential distractions and know when to take productive breaks to regain momentum.
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Founder of DontPayFull, is a big proponent of this productivity hack:
“As the head of a company operating with a team of more than 200 individuals, I have implemented several hacks to help me get things done at work more efficiently. One hack that has been especially helpful for me is to stop multi-tasking. Previously, it felt like too many requests were coming from different departments — so much so that trying to do them all at once was too hectic! To counter this, I started implementing structure into my day by focusing on one specific task for several hours before moving on to something else. It creates a state of hyperfocus which helps complete tasks more efficiently. This hack allows me to be far more productive during my working day than when I used to try multi-tasking everything simultaneously!”
Productivity Hacks on Workplace Organization
A clean and organized workspace or work environment can reduce stress, minimize distractions, and realign your focus.
Here are some of the best productivity hacks that involve decluttering and optimizing your space to create a more conducive environment:
1. Use color coding
Color coding your files, documents, and other materials can help you to find what you need more easily. It can also serve as a visual representation for prioritizing tasks or paperwork, categorizing your documents, and tracking the status of your tasks.
2. Invest in organizational tools
Organization plays a vital role in productivity. To increase productivity, consider investing in organizational tools, such as a desktop organizer, filing cabinets, or label makers, that can keep your workspace neat and tidy.
Organizational tools can also help to:
- Make your workspace more functional
- Save space and reduce clutter
- Focus better on your work
3. Establish a flow on your desk
Establishing a flow in your workspace consolidates the other productivity ideas to help you create a smoother workflow to get things done more efficiently. This involves placing the items you use most often, like your phone, office tools, or notes, within arm’s reach.
Doing this can reduce the time and effort required to complete your tasks. It can also prevent you from losing focus or momentum throughout the day.
Jane Stoller (aka Organized Jane) — keynote speaker, productivity expert, and the author of Decluttering for Dummies — is a huge proponent of keeping both your physical and digital workspaces free of clutter:
“The best thing to do at your office or in your study space, whether at home in an office or at school, is to declutter. You can start today and continue forever. It is free and takes dedication but it is not as time consuming as one would think. Decluttering is key in boosting productivity, as you will be able to find items you are looking for more easily, and increase your overall mental awareness.
Decluttering does not stop at physical items. Declutter your digital spaces, too! Unsubscribe daily to emails, digitize work receipts or your class notes (there are great apps for this), and sort your photos by event and dates, for example. Daily digital decluttering is a key way to avoid that dreaded message popping up telling you that you have run out of cloud storage.”
Productivity Hacks Focusing on Technology
Technology can be a powerful tool to boost your productivity when used effectively. Productivity hacks involve creative ways to automate tasks, digitally track your progress, and efficiently manage projects.
Here are some of the best productivity tips that use technology:
1. Use the right productivity apps
Productivity apps are designed to manage your tasks and time more efficiently and improve your focus and concentration. These apps have built-in features like habit tracking, focus improvement, time tracking, goal setting, and more.
Here are some productivity apps you can use:
- Pomodoro – A simple app that implements the Pomodoro Technique for productivity.
- Brain.fm – An app that generates music to help your brain concentrate.
- Forest – A creative way to help you stay focused as you complete your tasks.
- Clariti – An all-in-one productivity app for businesses that consolidate emails, calendars, chats, and social media.
- Todoist – Todoist has everything from collaboration tools to focus tools and methods for task organization.
2. Use the right task management apps
Using task and project management apps will specifically help you manage your to-do lists and organize your daily tasks. They feature ways to list your tasks, set automatic reminders, help with project organization, and many more.
Consider trying these apps to find one that works best for you:
- Trello – This is a task management app that divides different to-dos based on what status it is currently in.
- Asana – Asana helps you manage your projects across teams.
- Notion – Notion is a flexible app that helps you organize your tasks, manage your projects, and take down notes.
- Evernote – Evernote helps you create customized lists to manage your tasks, take down important notes and ideas, and many more.
3. Use browser extensions
Productivity-focused browser extensions can streamline your work, shorten your work process, and eliminate distracting ads.
For example, browser extensions like Grammarly can help you check your grammar and spelling while writing documents or emails. Meanwhile, ad-blockers can reduce interruptions when browsing the web.
Here are some Google Chrome extensions that can boost your productivity:
- Forest – Forest is a Chrome extension that helps you set aside blocks of time to focus on your tasks.
- AdBlock – AdBlock is one of the most well-known ad blockers for Google Chrome.
- ClickUp – ClickUp lets you take notes, screenshot your entire browser, bookmark a website, and save it as a task.
- Marinara – Marinara is a browser extension that serves as an assistant for implementing the Pomodoro Technique while you’re browsing the web.
4. Using tools to automate recurring tasks
Using automation tools for recurring tasks is one of the best work hacks to save you significant time daily, reduce human errors, and increase your productivity. Some tasks you can automate include sending regular emails, updating spreadsheets, or generating reports.
The tools you can use for automation include IFTTT (If This Then That) and Zapier, among others.
5. Setting up keyboard shortcuts
Your workflow can speed up if you are accustomed to using keyboard shortcuts for commonly used functions.
Aside from the predefined keyboard shortcuts available in Mac or Windows, you can also create personalized keyboard shortcuts for your usual tasks.
For example, you can create a shortcut key on Windows to open the apps you often use. Just right-click the app you want to create a shortcut for. Head to the “Shortcut” tab > and input your customized key in the “Shortcut key” field.
6. Invest in seamless file-sharing systems
If your organization relies heavily on sharing and editing files, investing in file-sharing systems will significantly improve your work, making it more seamless.
Use cloud storage services, like Google Drive or Dropbox, to access your files from anywhere and collaborate with others. This can help you work more efficiently and reduce the need for local storage.
7. Set up a virtual assistant
You can now use virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa to help with simple tasks. They can save you time by doing routine tasks while you focus on more important work. These tasks can involve:
- Managing your calendar
- Setting automatic reminders
- Sending automatic emails
- Making phone calls
- Setting up meetings
8. Utilize your Out-of-Office (OOO) messages
Utilize your Out-of-Office (OOO) message to establish time-blocking for dedicated and focused work. This way, you can set boundaries and reduce distractions.
For example, you can change your OOO to something along these lines: “I’m currently working on [your project], scheduled every [duration of your focus times]. Please expect a delay in replies within this timeframe. For a timely response, please contact me outside of the said hours.”
9. Create custom macros
Some apps will let you record a series of actions and save them as macros. Create custom macros for frequently used sequences of commands. You can then play these macros to perform the same task when needed.
Productivity Hacks on Habit Building
Habit building is essential for consistent productivity since your daily habits are the building blocks of your work etiquette and behaviors. Productive habits eventually become a pattern of behavior that we automatically do, so we don’t have to rely on willpower or motivation.
Try out these productivity life hacks that focus on habit-building to make it easier for you to maintain productivity in the long term.
1. Read and consume the right content
In this digital age, we can get lost mindlessly scrolling through different online platforms.
We can purposefully consume different media that help improve our discipline and productivity. We can also read some of the best productivity books with forward-thinking methods about efficiency.
2. Habit stacking
This work hack involves attaching or connecting a new habit you want to train to an existing one. This means that whenever you make a current habit, you mix in a new task to do with it.
For example, if you want to start working out before work, you can stack it onto your coffee habit. The purpose of habit stacking is to remind you to work out every time you drink your morning coffee.
3. Using commitment reminders/accountability buddy
Using different commitment methods will help to hold yourself accountable to maintain your desired habit.
For example, if you want to stay consistent with your efforts to stay physically fit, you can make a “challenge” with a friend. This challenge involves making the habit consistently for a period of time. If one of you fails the challenge, you have to pay the penalty or do a punishment.
4. Using the Seinfeld Strategy
The Seinfeld Strategy involves having a visual representation of your progress. The idea is to mark an “X” on your calendar for each day you complete a desired habit.
Seeing your progress can help your motivation to continue a productive habit. It also lets you stop focusing on how you do a task and focus more on continuing your streak. This is why this strategy is more helpful for accomplishing more straightforward daily tasks.
Iverson Li, Product Manager for Growatt Portable Power Stations, uses a similar strategy:
“If you want to be productive, I recommend you create events in your calendar for each task. The day can easily get away from you, especially if you have no structure, so you must use all you can to make sure you get to everything and finish specific things in a timely manner. I create calendar events that will alert me to what I should be working at and how long I have to finish a specific task. This ensures that I stay on task, am productive enough to get everything done, and don’t let a day slip away with things that aren’t effective for what I need to do.”
5. Gamifying your habits
Turning your habits into a game can help you make building them more fun, engaging, and easier to commit to.
For example, if you want to build a habit of being a morning person, you can incorporate a reward system to help you stay motivated in making this routine.
Productivity Hacks on Health and Wellness
When we are busy, it can be easy to forget to care for ourselves. But taking care of your physical and mental health is one of the most important things to maintain a high level of productivity.
These productivity hacks focus on methods to stay physically and mentally fit, engage in self-care practices, and maintain a healthy work-life balance:
1. Include them in your to-do list
The trifecta we humans need for good health is getting enough sleep, exercise, and a balanced and healthy diet. However, when we are busy or have time constraints, we sometimes forget our daily tasks and find it challenging to stick to these habits.
Including good physical habits in your to-do list helps you treat them like a work task. This way, you can commit better to your physical and mental well-being while feeling more productive.
2. Use the 20-20-20 rule
Staring at your screen for long periods can cause fatigue and eye strain. You can use the 20-20-20 rule to help reduce the risk of this.
The 20-20-20 rule states that for every 20 minutes of screen time, you would look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
3. Establish your “happy place”
We each have something that calms us down whenever we think about it. When work or tasks get out of hand or overwhelming, establishing your “happy place” can help you consciously remember what inspires you.
Here are some of the things you can use as your “happy place:”
- Visualizing the bigger picture – You can imagine your best self or your inspiration for working hard. You can also visualize achieving your dreams to remember how badly you want them.
- Talking to friends/family/a significant other – Some people can consider the most important people in their life as their happy place to share their thoughts and relieve stress.
- Taking walks – Your happy place can be your environment, and taking walks when you’re stressed can help calm you down.
Productivity Hacks on Creativity and Innovation
Creativity and innovation are necessary to stay ahead of the curve and develop new approaches to existing problems. They can also help you become more productive as you improve how you accomplish your tasks, stay inspired, and cultivate a creative mindset.
Let’s take a look at some productivity ideas to boost your efficiency creatively:
1. Use mind maps
Mind mapping involves creating new ideas from one central theme. You write down one idea at the center, then branch out to cover all related ideas, creating a mind map of ideas.
Using a mind map can help organize your ideas and visualize them in a non-linear way. This can be useful for brainstorming or solving a complex problem.
2. Change your environment
Changing your physical environment can spark your creativity to accomplish your tasks. You can change your setting by trying these constructive ideas:
- Working in another location
- Listening to a different playlist
- Changing the lighting in your workspace
- Adding plants and other accessories that help you feel energized and inspired
Productivity Hacks on Delegation and Outsourcing
Productivity not only involves accomplishing tasks on your own. It also consists in completing your tasks effectively and efficiently, even when delegating or outsourcing them to others.
Here are some work hacks that involve delegation and outsourcing:
1. Outsourcing virtual assistants through third-party apps
Instead of learning to do trivial tasks, you can outsource them to virtual assistants through freelancing websites to help free up your time for higher-priority tasks.
These professionals often have the expertise and know time-saving methods, such as Gmail tricks and other shortcuts, to complete administrative tasks faster and more efficiently.
2. Identifying an “anti-to-do” list
“Anti-to-do” lists contain everything you shouldn’t do and can delegate or outsource to others, usually including administrative or repetitive tasks.
Make 2023 Your Most Productive Year Yet
These productivity hacks 2023 has in store for us are essential tools that can help us optimize time and work more efficiently. From time management, workspace organization, and using today’s technology, finding surprising ways to do more with less time has never been easier.
Implementing the best productivity hacks into your daily routine can streamline your workflow and eliminate distractions. However, remember that what works for one person may not work for another. So, you must find your own definition of a productive day. Then, apply the hacks we mentioned above and see what works best for you.
By staying consistent, patient, and dedicated, you can establish the necessary habits to make 2023 your most productive and successful year yet.
Want to learn more? Check out the best time management courses.
Emma Collins is a tech writer for Productivity Spot. She's been writing tech tutorials & how-to guides on Windows, Android, iOS, Social Media, Data Recovery, Cybersecurity, Gaming, and more as a tech writer for over 6 years. You can find her work on many established tech websites, including Hackr.io, MakeUseOf, Help Desk Geek, Online Tech Tips, Switching To Mac, HandyRecovery, Cleverfiles, and more.