Welcoming 2019 With 4 Productivity Hacks

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Time is truly relative and the year that passed happened in a quick wink. Now that the fireworks have died down and the festive season is over, real life beckons and I’m once again looking at the year to come and wondering how best to make each day count.


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In my Christmas Eve outfit from Love Knot Label which I’m pretty happy about as I won it through an Instagram giveaway.


When we look at the numbers, you and I are given the same hours in a day as anyone else. To put it simply, whether we do more or less than the other person ultimately boils down to productivity and efficiency, which is why I’ve put together this list on some productivity hacks that I’d like to practice more of in 2019.


I’ve seen so many lists floating around on the internet claiming to give the “best productivity tricks” or “top efficiency tools”, but some of them spout things like “drink more coffee”, “be brave to say no” or “sit near natural light”!?!?!? If being more productive means turning down things I want to do or simply caffeinating myself, I don’t think that’s making the ‘best of your time’. Another gripe I had with the lists online which try to tell us about “productivity” is that so many of them are trying to bring back the ’old ways’ of being productive. Haven’t we heard enough about how our productivity is ruined because of the time we spend on our phones? I think the favourite productivity tip at the moment is for everyone to cut down on screen time. In my view, if you’re going to be unproductive on your phone, the likelihood is, you’re going to be unproductive without it too. But enough of throwing shade at everyone else’s suggestion.


Since I want to sleep for about 6 - 8 hours a day, that leaves me about 16 hours to use in a day. How then do I make the best of those hours?


1. Procrastinate well

I’ve been on this 3 minute rule for about 6 years now and I swear by it. If something takes less than 3 minutes to do, do it immediately. I’m no stranger to the world of procrastination, and have put aside so many things I actually want to do because I simply don’t feel like it. These can range from things like a book I’ve been meaning to read, to small things such as trash I want to throw away. But for the coming year, for tasks that take under 3 minutes, these aren’t allowed to fall within the category of “things I procrastinate”.


What that means is that rather make a mental note to reply an email/Whatsapp later, if I know it’ll just be a quick message, I do it immediately. If I have to put something away after I’ve used it, I don’t tell myself “I’ll do it later”.


If I am procrastinating something that takes longer than 3 minutes (such as blog post writing or cleaning my room), I have to procrastinate with something that I want to do anyway. So instead of delaying the inevitable by scrolling through the Facebook timeline with posts I’ve already seen, I’m going to read a book (I have ebooks on my phone), edit pictures, do in-bed exercises (like the one linked below!), or plan my Sunday School classes. The long and short of it is, if I’m not consuming something deliberately and I still insist on procrastinating, I need to do so with something that’s somewhat useful or something that I’d take the time to do on another occasion.


Some other ‘procrastination ideas’ include-

  • Shopping for birthday presents for friends/family (even if their birthday is ages away!)
  • Clearing out your purse/wallet (receipts to be sorted, random business cards to look through)
  • Messaging old friends that you’ve been meaning to catch up with
  • Data housekeeping - sort out your hard drive/phone pictures/camera memory cards/desktop

And if I really don’t feel like doing anything else, then I’m allowed to take a nap, because at least going to sleep is good for your body.



2. Use waiting time effectively

Okay, so I’m gonna confess something a little weird that I do. I mean, I think it’s genius, but whenever I share this with my friends or family, they think I’m insane.


I watch TV in the shower.


I prop up my water resistant phone on my toiletries stand and while I’m scrubbing my body or washing my hair, I’m also consuming my “fun content”. Sometimes, I put up Insta stories and just let it scroll past while I shower.


In my mind, I have to shower anyway. As this time is going to be spent somewhere where I don’t have the liberty of using my hands, I’m better off using it to do things that a “productive person” doesn’t always have time to do. And it’s worked really well for me! It helps me not binge watch as there’s only so much time you can spend in the shower, and sometimes, just 15 minutes of some entertaining content is enough to recharge and refresh you. After the shower, I’m in a totally different frame of mind from the work day that passed, which makes it easier for me to take the time to do other things I’m interested in.


You don’t just have to limit this to watching TV. I’ve used shower time to memorise notes (don’t underestimate the value of a glass screen door and some laminated study notes) and practice speeches. You don’t even have to limit this to shower time. There could be elements in your day which cannot be eliminated, but can be paired up with other productive tasks. Whether it’s in the shower, on the toilet, waiting in a traffic jam, standing in a queue for food, or even on the commute on the way to work, it’s always possible to make better use of your ‘waiting’ time.


If commuting in rush hour can make it really difficult to do anything else as you’re very likely to be squashed up against another person of if you’re driving, listening to podcasts can be a great solution for you!


3. Use technology!

With technology, so many things can be done immediately. I used to be one of those who’d say, “I’ll wait till I get home” to get things done, but as long as you’ve equipped your smart phone with adequate tools, there are so many things you can do right away. I’ve ordered food while commuting so it’d arrive when I’m at my destination, typed up draft meeting minutes on my phone on the way back from a meeting (though if you’re extra efficient, you could type during the meeting and edit it on the way back) and Googled mid-conversation instead of dealing with someone’s vague knowledge/recollection of a matter.


What I’m saying is, although there are a couple of things that still require us to be seated at a computer with information laid out before us, there are plenty of other things which we can do on-the-go, thanks to technology.


4. Have a big picture plan

When studying for my A-Levels, I used to draw up boxes on a sheet with my general study goals for the entire month, sort of like a calendar but for a particular event/goal. I did this again in university and when I was studying for the New York Bar Exam. This was super useful for me because I could see where I was at a given time on a goal, how much I had completed, and how much there was left to go. If you’ve fallen behind, it helps you reorganise your plans, so you’ll know when you need to buck up and do more.


But before I could do that, I needed milestones or “small” targets to achieve. When studying, that could be a subject/number of exam papers to go through, and when working, that could include subject matters you’re interested in exploring, or project/task milestones. Or it could just be little things that will help you be the person you want to be. You could plan out wanting to learn/master a language, pick up a sport or develop a skill.


I realised in 2018 that it was very easy to be unproductive when I didn’t have a bigger plan of what I wanted to do. Although, at the back of my mind, I knew that I wanted to blog more, exercise more, or do certain things in relation to other interests, because I didn’t have a plan, whenever I had free time, I would start another TV series or spend hours on the phone, consuming content I wasn’t genuinely interested in. So in 2019, I’m going to have little goals for each month and make it a point to complete them.


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I hope the above was helpful. Do let me know if you have other suggestions!


All the best with 2019, friends! May we have a great year ahead!

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