3 Silly Productivity Hacks (That Keep Me Seriously Focused)
Today we’re talking about 3 silly productivity hacks that keep me seriously focused! If you need an extra dose of productivity, then this post (and the three silly productivity hacks I’m sharing with you) will give you the boost you need to get more done — with less distractions.
As a business owner, I don’t just juggle tasks, to do lists, and other responsibilities; I have a life outside of business as well.
And some days, it’s not just about how much I’ll get done and how much time it’ll take:
Anxiety and depression are a very real part of my life, so sometimes, even though I may have enough time to do something in my business, I may be lacking something else all together: WILLPOWER.
When willpower is low and focus is all over the place, I rely on three silly productivity hacks (the same ones I’m sharing in this post), to get more done.
Best of all? One of these productivity hacks can be automated (yes, automated) so you don’t have to worry about making time to implement it. (And you don’t need any tech skills to implement what I’m going to share with you!)
(Want to see these 3 silly hacks described in video form? Here is the video link! If not, keep scrolling and reading.)
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Now, out of abundance of caution…
I want to make it really REALLY clear that I am not a medical professional, I am not certified to counsel people on what they should or shouldn’t do when it comes to navigating anxiety or depression. I’m not a doctor — I don’t play one on TV.
BUT if something I share today can help you or someone you love, then good. My goal is not to diagnose or prescribe, but to suggest.
So today, I want to share three seemingly silly productivity hacks that help me stay seriously focused. Because… they work for me. And they’ll probably work for you, too.
Productivity Hack #1: To Do Lists the Night Before
First of my 3 silly productivity hacks:
When I make to do lists, I make them the night before.
This isn’t revolutionary. A lot of people do this. And this way, I can hit the ground running the next morning.
BUT I do two other things with my to do list that really ramp up my focus:
For one, I assign a start time with each to-do list item — down to the minute.
Do I always do every item in time? No. But I have noticed I am way WAY more productive when I do this than when I don’t.
Secondly, beyond scheduling a to do list item, I also like to verb it. In fact, I verb it reeeeaaaaal good. (Hear me singing that to the tune of “Push It” in your head. K? Thnx.)
What I mean by “verb it” is that I will place an actual verb in front of the to-do list item. Literally. Therefore making it more actionable for me.
(If you recall from language arts class, a verb is “a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence.”)
Now, this one might seem a little silly, but it has a big payoff for me and totally changes my perception of those to do list items. This actually has a connection to my career as an actor.
When you’re acting, you’re portraying a character driven by needs, wants, and desires. And in acting class, you learn that it’s never enough to be an adjective, for example, “happy.” It has to be an active word – a verb – or the character will be two-dimensional. And that’s bad storytelling. So that adjective needs to become a verb.
You’re not just “happy;” you’re “celebrating an achievement” or “breathing a sigh of relief because you’re safe.” Both of those things might result in happiness, but they come from different places and would be portrayed differently.
Now, I got a little nerdy there, but this same thing applies to to do list items because it’s based in human behavior.
Productivity Hacks: How to Make an Active To Do List
If I put on my to do list a bunch of dry items — like taxes, website, hair — then I may get these things done. Maybe not. I probably won’t have a ton of excitement around these ideas. They won’t be as easy either because every time I see that to do list item, I test my willpower and energy just a little.
And you might think I’m being overly particular, but I’ve tested this with myself, and I’ve seen the results. When I put a verb at the front of a to do list item, I am way more likely to get it done. It takes half a second longer but saves me way more time.
So this to do list with “taxes, website, and hair” could become:
Update website homepage
Make hair appointment
These small and seemingly insignificant changes can have big results. And the good news? You don’t have to take my word for it. Revisit your to do list and throw a few verbs in there. See what happens.
And if a to do list item is too big to simply add a verb, that shows you that maaaaybe you need to break that item down into smaller tasks. Otherwise, you’re never going to get it done.
Productivity Hack #2: Pep Talk from the Past
Speaking of not getting it done, that brings up the second of the three seemingly silly productivity hacks that keeps me seriously focused.
For my to do list items that tend to be a bit more taxing. Like taxes. Get it?
For those less fun items OR for the to do list items that might require more emotional energy or willpower, that’s when I write myself a… pep talk from the past.
And since I make my to do list item the night before, this is past me talking to future me, giving myself a pep talk through the space-time continuum.
Why do I do this? Because I know me. And I know that not every item on my to do list lights me up. Even as the CEO of my business, even though I have an amazing team, there are still things I need to do that only I can do. And sometimes those items are less than thrilling.
But for most of those items, the feeling I get after completing that task is far better than the continual feeling I get of ignoring or putting off that task day after day.
So for those tasks that I’m more resistant to, that’s when my to do list pep talks help out a lot.
(You can see the pep talk from the past in our video at 6:14!)
Now, my little word of caution there is to be kind to your future self. That person is probably doing great work and just needs an extra nudge that only the pep talk from the past can give.
It’s not that future you is a flake or lazy, but maybe just maaaybe future you will be low on energy that day or at the bottom of your willpower reserves… or maybe that’s when the Resistance, the enemy, the devil, the conspiring chemicals — whatever you want to call it — that’s when a not-so-nice voice is speaking a little too loudly for you to focus.
Writing in a few pep talks from the past could be the very thing you need to sharpen your focus and get this ish done.
So, when you’re writing yourself a pep talk, consider the quiet objections you usually make to not do something, identify those, and overcome those objections. Basically, I want you to sell yourself on the benefits of doing that task. Which is excellent practice for your sales and marketing skills as a business owner.
Also, it’s kind of fun.
So, a win-win… win.
Productivity Hack #3: IFTTT Affirmations
Now, let’s get to the final hack of my silly productivity hacks and wrap this thing up.
This one is my favorite. And it’s also the most out there.
But it’s so so good, because on my hardest days, this hack automatically steps in to save the day.
Here’s what I mean by that:
I have automated text messages that are sent to myself from myself with reminders, affirmations, or… whatever I need. This isn’t about appointment reminders or events I’m supposed to go to… or even to do list items.
This is bigger than that. This is the stuff you know you need to hear or the stuff that you need to be reminded of when you’re at your lowest point — whether low in energy or willpower or joy.
This is easily done for free by using my phone’s SMS messages and integrating that with a program called IFTTT (which stands for “if this then that”). More on the “how to” of that in just a moment.
I have two texts sent to me: one in the AM and one in the PM. And maybe that’s what you need, too. Or maybe morning and afternoon are fine for you and you don’t need the extra boost then. Or maybe you don’t even need it every day.
But here’s what I recommend doing: Look at your typical day and your typical week and identify when you struggle the most. When do you need these silly productivity hacks the most?
Do you have trouble getting out of bed most mornings? Or maybe just Mondays?
When do you feel depleted in energy and willpower? Is it in the afternoon and you need a boost beyond another cup of coffee? Are there certain dates or days of the week that are especially triggering?
Maybe you feel low in the evenings and need a happy thought or two?
Whatever you need, you can use IFTTT to text yourself on specific days, dates, and times so you can get that pep talk from the past that you need.
(Get great pep talk from the past examples in our video at 9:31!)
Even though I often disregard my daily texts because hey, I might be doing fine, other times this is the lifeline I need to step back, get perspective, and remember what I’m doing, what I’m fighting for, and what my priorities should be.
If you struggle with anxiety and depression, or if you know someone who does, you know: It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture, to get lost in your thoughts, to cycle through all the bad things, everything that isn’t working, everything that you’re worried might not work, and so on.
But having these little pep talks in text form, who knows?
It could be exactly what you need when you need it.
Did you like it? Then pin it! Pin the post using the graphic below so you can easily reference these three silly hacks again in the future!
Will you be implementing any of these silly hacks into your routine? Share your takeaways below!
HI, I’M COURTNEY!
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