What is productivity? Why does it matter? Put simply, productivity is a term used to qualify how much work you can get done in a certain amount of time. Being productive means you can do more. If you’re having a low-productivity day, you didn’t get much done. You can improve your productivity through tools, mindset, knowledge, and more. That’s where these productivity tips come in.
In this post, you’ll find our master list of every productivity tip we’ve ever written. That includes breakdowns of the best productivity tools, popular productivity techniques, important concepts, and other tips.
5 productivity apps you should have in your stack
Building the right tool stack is an important component of productivity, whether you’re focused on your personal productivity or your team’s. Here are the six tools you should definitely have in your stack.
- A Pomodoro app: With the Pomodoro technique, you work in 25-minute blocks that are separated by five-minute periods of rest. The technique’s creator used a kitchen timer, but decades later you now have access to a host of apps built for this productivity method. Here’s our complete breakdown of the best ones, including Pomodone, Focus To-Do, and more.
- To-do list apps: How are you keeping track of what you need to get done? If you answered with anything paper-based, you might be due for an upgrade. Top productivity tip: with a to-do list app — like Todoist or Notion — you can track your work across all your devices so nothing slips through the cracks. Get our complete breakdown here.
- Note-taking apps: Whether you’re sitting in a meeting, getting an update from a stakeholder, or just jotting down ideas, notes can be like a second brain. By using the right app, you can make sure these notes are always accessible and never accidentally left in a pocket on laundry day. Here’s our list of the best note-taking apps.
- Project management apps: It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a full team or just working on your own; project management apps can help you hit your deadlines. But project management apps aren’t all created equal. If you’re working on your own, you’ll do just fine with a tool like Trello, while a bigger team might rely on a tool like Asana or ClickUp. Learn more about these apps here.
- Tools for focus and distractions: Unless you’re working in a cave away from society, you’re going to run into distractions. That’s why hardcore productivity freaks with the best productivity tips often rely on tools that limit their exposure to distractions like social meda and news sites. With Spreed, you can quickly read through online articles in minutes, while Freedom and Rescue Time help you make better use of your productive time. Find out more here.
7 productivity tips about methodology
Some of the most popular productivity tips out there are about how you get things done. Structuring your day, prioritizing tasks, tracking your time, all these things go into making yourself more productive. With that in mind, here’s our list of the best productivity methodologies out there:
- SMART goals: Working without a goal is like going sailing without a destination. Best case scenario, you hit a rock close to shore and get home pretty quickly. Worst case, you’re out on the open sea for days, starving and delirious. But not all goals are created equal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Here’s why they work.
- Eat the Frog: How good are you at prioritizing your work? And how often do you actually follow your priorities? Everyone has tasks they desperately want to avoid. They’re difficult, they take a long time, and you’d rather be doing anything else. Our best productivity tip for getting them out of the way is using the Eat the Frog method to get them out of the way first. Here’s more on this method.
- Getting Things Done: Conceived by productivity consultant David Allen, this method is all about bringing order to the deluge of requests the average worker can get in a single day. Put simply, it involves capturing that work, clarifying what’s actionable, organizing it all, regularly reflecting on your work, and then actually getting it done. Read our full breakdown of this method here.
- Unito’s guide to prioritization: In this step-by-step guide, we help you combat analysis-paralysis and start getting to work. This involves breaking down large projects into monthly, weekly, and daily goals, as well as using tried-and-true methodologies like the Eisenhower Matrix. Here’s more about this.
- Pomodoro: The Pomodoro technique can help you squeeze the maximum amount of productive time you can out of your day without feeling completely drained when it’s all done. With this productivity tip, you’ll work in 25-minute chunks, with short breaks in between. Learn more about how (and why) it works here.
- Habit stacking: One of the best productivity tips anyone can give you is to start building up positive habits. But change is hard, and the human brain likes to stick to what it knows. Habit stacking is a method you can use to graft a new habit onto an existing one, which can help you adopt it much faster. Here’s how it works.
- One Task: Similar to Eat the Frog, the One Task method is all about getting your most important work done first. It’s a little more intense than Eat the Frog in that, instead of just making your important task first in the day, you make it the only task you plan to get done. The theory is that this creates a more positive relationship with your work, which can actually help you finish more tasks throughout the day. Here’s our full breakdown.
5 productivity tips and concepts
There are productivity tools and productivity methods, and then there are more general productivity tips and concepts. These are aspects of work, psychology, and discipline that can help you get more done. Here’s the full list:
- Flow states: A flow state is that moment when you’re completely lost in your work. Hours pass without you noticing, and you only get up when the task is done or someone starts badgering you to come to a scheduled meeting. To achieve a flow state, you need to find a middle-ground between apathy and anxiety. This is done by managing your workload and the difficulty of your tasks. Learn more about flow states here.
- Context switching: Ever get interrupted in the middle of your work then think “wait, what was I doing again?” That’s usually because you’re dealing with context switching, which comes with interruptions. After being interrupted, it can take up to 25 minutes to get back on task. Here’s more on context switching.
- Productive habits: If habit stacking is one of the best ways to make sure a new habit sticks, how do you know which habits you should pursue? Some of the most common habits of productive people include regular prioritization, information management, and showing empathy for colleagues. Here’s more about these habits.
- Time management: Productivity isn’t just about packing in as much work in your day as you can. It’s also about making the most out of the time you have. Since you can’t add more hours in a day, you need to stay organized, learn to prioritize, delegate, plan, and more. Here’s our full time management guide.
- Focus: Are you struggling to stay focused? Then you need some productivity tips on avoiding distractions. Some of the most reasons people lose focus include multitasking, a less-than-ideal workspace, and a lack of prioritization. Here’s more on focus — and how you can hang on to it.
12 other productivity tips and resources
Single purpose focus
Although we live in an ever-increasing fast-paced & rapid developing environment & that the consensus is that multitasking is now normal, the fact remains that you will do your best work and be better at accomplishing tasks off your list by focusing on one item at a time. Splitting your attention across multiple tasks simply dilutes your concentration, which will reflect in the quality of your work. Do one thing at a time, do it well, and do it in full. (You can read more about our Lean Management methodology)
Continuing from the previous point, getting distracted can really take away from the important mental state that it takes to focus properly on getting a task done. Distractions get you out of “the zone”, and getting back into this zone is not as easy as it may seem. Your work pays dearly in terms of quality and time wasted, so you should take the habit to ensure that you are blocking out all distractions that may interrupt you while getting a task done. Things such as emails and phone calls can be attended to later on. As far as colleagues, you can set up rules. For example, here at Unito, we do not interrupt a colleague that is wearing headphones. This is to respect that if he/she is in the zone, we don’t want to take away from their momentum.
When scheduling a task or a group of tasks, you should give yourself 90 minutes blocks to accomplish each item off your list. This is because 30 minutes is clearly too small of a time frame to complete anything of value, and 60 minutes is usually not enough when you take into account all the potential impromptus or unexpected turns that can happen. 90 minutes gives you ample time to stop being stressed about working against the clock while allowing you to have enough time to complete your task effectively.
Group distractions together
Taking from the previous points, as you are working in interval time blocks and silencing distractions around you, you should allocate a specific time for attending to all these distractions that you blocked out. For example, you could give yourself 15-20 minute intervals throughout the day to attend to emails, return phone calls, and discuss with colleagues. Implementing this can dramatically boost your efficiency as you completely remove the disruptions from your precious work time, but still allow yourself to attend to potentially important needs that are pending in due time.
Classify your work with 20/80 rule
With so many things to get done within a day, you might be asking yourself, what is the most effective way to tackle this? You should rank your tasks in order of importance, and always focus on the top 20% of that list. As you cross items off, items from the bottom of the list will eventually make their way into your top 20%, but only when it is deemed crucial. Therefore, this allows you to continuously work and focus on what is most important at all times, without being subjected to tasks that can wait for your attention down the line.
As you go about your work, you might notice that a lot of what you do is repeated work, or work that follows a certain pattern. To help build your productivity, it would be wise to bundle these patterns into functions or processes, wherein you create a clearly defined roadmap that is easy to follow and for others to replicate. Which leads into the next point…
Delegate if possible
With processes clearly defined and easy to duplicate, then you should strongly consider delegating these processes, whether it be to employees, colleagues, or outside help. For example, proofreading, bookkeeping, data entry, are all tasks that can be outsourced, which will free your schedule of valuable time that can be better utilized towards more important or profitable endeavours.
Email checking rules
Even if you were to allocate a time block for checking emails, it’s undeniable that emails in general are a huge time waster. What you need to have is a system to go efficiently through your emails, so that you can get the most done in the least amount of time possible. Here are some pointers: If it will take you less than 2 minutes to deal with the email, deal with it right away, whether that is filing/archiving it, or responding to it. If it will require more time and attention, then mark it for review at a later date when you have ample time to properly deal with it without having it cut into your work time.
Use technology to your advantage
While we do live in a faster-paced and more demanding world, we are also extremely fortunate that we exist in an era that has created an amazing array of tools, apps, and softwares, that can help us do what we need to do, better and more effectively. Whatever you may be thinking of improving, there is likely to be a tool already in existence to help you! For example, here at Unito, we build tools that help you sync your project management tools, so that you don’t have to do repetitive work in different platforms, while allowing your team members to work off the platform they prefer. How’s that for specificity? There is always a way to do things better, so always be on the lookout for ways to leverage technology for your own benefit.
Improve your physical fitness
Take a closer look at the most productive people you know, and I guarantee you that these people are more physically fit than the average. Why is that? Because in order to be optimally productive from a mental standpoint, you need to be the equivalent on the physical side. Doing some type of physical activity helps in balancing your mental state, disconnect from work, as well as in removing stress & anxiety that comes from a grueling work schedule. Plus, it helps to make you feel better, and when we physically feel good, our mind tends to follow suit. By feeling great overall, you are better positioned to not only be more productive and efficient, but to also want to be so. Greatness then becomes a state of mind and trickles down into every aspect of your life.
Leverage commute time
How you are getting to work — and what you do in the meantime— can make a massive difference in terms of your productivity. For example, you could take the time that you spend on the bus or train to review emails, or documents, or any passive work-related tasks that are usually big time wasters and distractions throughout your day. If you are driving, you could perhaps make calls with partners and colleagues via Bluetooth, or you could listen to audio tapes or webinars that you might not have time for otherwise. Better yet, if you are cycling to work, you are not only turning your commute into a very good workout, but you are also freeing yourself from usually unpleasant commuting environments (traffic!), and you are helping the environment at the same time!
Work when you don’t want to
Doing what you should be doing when you want to do it is easy. The difference between peak performers and everyone else, is that they condition themselves into doing what they should be doing, even when they do not feel like it. Why do some people frequent gyms and have totally different results? Because some go when they feel like it, and some go even when they don’t feel like it. Same philosophy applies to your work. It is easy to work and get things done when you are feeling great and everything is on point. But you can get yourself to accomplish amazing things when you can push through when you are tired, or when your mind is playing tricks on you. Remember, perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did 🙂