Technology is both sinner and saint. The Internet and its mobile cousin, the smartphone, have given us incredible gifts: unlimited knowledge at our fingertips and a reach greater than the Pentagon had just 40 years ago.
Despite this, our lives seem to be getting harder and more stressful.. We have become so dependent on technology to the point where it’s become the opposite of what it set out to do – make our lives better. It’s certainly more convenient, but for many people, it’s become an addiction. And no addiction is good.
Numbers don’t lie
According to a national survey from TeleNav, here are some statistics to think about.
- 66% of smartphone users said they sleep with their phone next to them.
- 21% of respondents would give up their shoes for a week instead of their phone.
- 21% of iPhone users said that they would rather go a week without seeing their significant other than give up their phone
- 34% of iPhone users regularly check their email at the dinner table.
So we have a problem and the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging you have one. The second step is going to work on it.
Here are five productivity hacks that are surprisingly simple, and yet incredibly effective. It’s not a question of if they’ll work for you and your unique situation, but how many of them will you actually put into use.
1. The email trap
This is something a friend learned from Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Academy and was kind enough to share it with me. Want to be 30% more productive today with almost no effort? Stop looking at your email in the first 60 minutes of the day. 90% of people wake up, grab their phone, and check their emails. By doing this, you let other people’s needs and wants dictate your life.
Tony Robbins would talk about this back in the 80s with his late-night infomercials, and it’s something he’s gotten even more passionate about as new information is uncovered in the fields of nutrition and neuroscience. Health can be divided into three separate areas: Food, water and stretch.
Food is fuel for your body. You wouldn’t put cheap oil in a Ferrari, so why do people eat fast food? Because they want something quick that fills them up. I get it, and from time to time it’s no big deal, but you want to have a well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, fish, chicken, and pork.
Hydrating, aka drinking water, is one of the fastest productivity hacks around. Every high-performance coach talks about it. Instead of drinking alcohol, coffee, soda, switch to water. Within a week, you’ll feel a difference in how you feel. You’ll have more energy, sleep better and more productive than ever. Try it and see.
We all know the benefits of exercise, so why is it we find every excuse not to do it. A work-out takes time, you sweat, you feel tired and it can be downright depressing to see how out of shape you are when you haven’t exercised for a long time. Stretching, on the other hand, is quick and easy. No heavy lifting. Just 10 minutes to get your body limber will go a long way to feeling better. Your body will thank you.
“Love is not as important as good health. You cannot be in love if you’re not healthy. You can’t appreciate it.” – Bryan Cranston
3. Oxygenate your body
If you want to give your body a boost then breathe. Not unconsciously, like we all do but consciously like people doing yoga. This takes less than five minutes and you’re good to go. Athletes such as swimmers, runners, and karate fighters understand the power of breathing better than anyone, and how it is a critical component of success. The best part, it’s easier than ever to train yourself to breath better with the help of apps such as Breathe2Relax, Pranayama, Breathing Zone and Relax: Stress and Anxiety Relief.
4. Confirmation email
This was taught to me by my mentor back in my late twenties and it transformed how I dealt with coworkers. We often think that the greatest pull on our time are clients, but what is often overlooked is the frenemy. Colleagues that are seemingly on your side, but are taking advantage of your time and energy.
We have all met them before. They are the ones who pawn off their most difficult, challenging tasks to others. They appeal to people’s kindness and ask them if they can “help” them with something. What they often mean is, “Can you do it for me?” But they know that doesn’t fly so they resort to sneakiness.
When I first learned the technique of the confirmation email, I could hardly believe my eyes because tasks that had been thrown in my lap and taking up much of my time, suddenly vanished. People eventually stopped asking me to help them, because they couldn’t be bothered.
Car salespeople have an expression for these people: tire kickers. In business, to weed out the serious from the not so serious, just ask them to put their request in an email. It’s amazing just how powerful this technique can be.
“We cannot waste time. We can only waste ourselves.” – George Matthew Adams
My personal favorite productivity hack, and the one I have my clients implement immediately because it’s just so easy. Essentially it’s doing two tasks at the same time, but no, I’m not talking about multitasking. Multitasking is dividing your energy between two or more tasks, which is counterproductive. Chunking is combining two activities together that don’t detract from the other.
Here are some examples of chunking that work for me:
– Having a meeting while walking
– Stretching while watching TV
– Doing breathing exercises while sitting in front of your computer
– Listen to an audio program while driving
And there you have it, the five most effective productivity hacks for the busy entrepreneur. Easier than you think, more powerful than you realize.