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Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 9 September 2022 ·

Productivity hacks to work smarter and accelerate results

At Reclaro, we live and breathe all things productivity. Our unique software helps companies to improve their productivity, efficiency and effectiveness using our award-winning 1-3-5® OKR approach. We’ve done lots of research into what makes people more productive and created a list of the ten most effective productivity hacks that will help you achieve more without working longer hours but by working smarter.

Top ten productivity hacks

  1. Consider the objective of each task before you get started; this will let you assess the time required to achieve your desired outcome. It might help to use the SMART framework to set objectives. This means goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound and also ensure your daily tasks are directed at a critical goal to achieve the most success.

  2. Track the time you allocate per task and remember - aim for progress, not perfection. This can be done in a spreadsheet, word doc or similar. With our 1-3-5® OKR software, you can log what to work on, when to focus on each task and which actions feed into achieving each of your primary objectives - it allows you to focus on what matters most and avoid distractions.

  3. Hold stand-up meetings. This keeps everyone on track and avoids people getting too comfortable. If you want to go even further with this point, consider if meetings can be eliminated entirely by using email or group chat, shortened by 15 or 20 minutes, or if the number of attendees could be reduced to only contributors, with others notified by circulating the minutes via email. It’s essential to make every minute count!

  4. Celebrate the small wins. Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks to avoid being overwhelmed and encourage progress. The 1-3-5® OKR, Objectives and Key Results framework allows you to structure your work and take action, naturally helping you to create checklists of tasks and milestones that you can tick off as they have been accomplished. Tracking regular progress also allows you to celebrate even the small wins that will motivate you to keep going.

  5. Set deadlines for yourself (and your team) and stick to them. When you set Key Results, you can break these down into a set of Milestones which help assess the progress toward each particular key result, together with a deadline by which each of these Milestones must be achieved.

  6. Cluster tasks according to the theme so you can get in a specific mindset and box off more in less time. Our award-winning 1-3-5® OKR planning process breaks down your Vision into 3 primary Objectives, each driven by 5 Key Results, each of which is then broken down into Milestones. Clustering certain genres of work and focusing on these together can be a more effective way to achieve more in less time. For example, as a content creator, once you’ve removed all distractions (see point 9 below) and got yourself in the writing ‘zone,’ you may be able to plough through many different pieces of copywriting in one session and then take a break. Switching tasks often means losing momentum; you may cluster all financial tasks together, so once you can get into that mindset of running numbers and financial forecasts, you can speed through these actions in one session. It’s a much more efficient way to work. This naturally provides focus and allows structured progress towards common business goals daily. Get in the flow and batch production.

  7. Write out your focus list at the end of the previous day so you can get straight back into the zone the following morning. Start the day by reviewing your 1-3-5® OKR plan and the planned list of tasks or Milestones that will move you closer to achieving your goals. At the end of the day, before leaving your desk, record your key accomplishments made that day, so you can hit the ground running tomorrow.

  8. Automate anything you can. With our 1-3-5® OKR software, you can track and observe your daily progress towards OKRs by ticking things off and watching your performance dials move forward automatically. Your manager will also see your progress in real-time. This frees you from needing to update different Excel sheet versions to see how far you’re progressing.

  9. Remove all distractions, including mobile phones and email alerts, and set your status on messaging apps to ‘busy’. Distractions can significantly influence your progress, so removing these becomes pivotal to becoming more productive. Research has increasingly validated the notion of deep work being the most effective, where our focus is on solving a specific problem. According to MIT Professor of Neuroscience Earl K. Miller, multitasking is ‘not humanly possible,’ given the constant context switching caused by interruptions and breaks in concentration.

  10. Log your progress regularly to stay on track and avoid any tangents. It’s important to feel you are on track and moving towards your daily goals. Having somewhere to log your progress and review your achievements is very important. Our 1-3-5® OKR planning software allows progress tracking from top to bottom, from the level of the Vision, through to Objectives, Key Results and down to individual milestones to be achieved each week, month or quarter.

Final thought

If all this has got you thinking, you can read a more comprehensive analysis of how to improve efficiency, effectiveness and productivity in your organisation here.

Finally, if you’re keen to learn more, take a look at our productivity cost calculator to receive an estimate of how much low productivity could be costing your UK business every year.

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