BestLife | Article | March 2023
Everyone wants to get out of work early. Our goal, day in and day out, is to complete our tasks so we can enjoy life outside of the office. Unfortunately, scrolling TikTok or online shopping isn't going to move up your quitting time. But there are some little things you can do to get all of your professional responsibilities taken care of in record time, whether you work from home or head into the office. We've collected a ton of helpful work hacks that can help you get more done quicker. Keep reading to learn the best tips from business coaches, CEOs, and productivity studies.
The Best Work Hacks for Getting More Done Quicker
1. Be an early bird
The most successful people get up early. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Virgin founder Richard Branson are all up before 5 a.m.
"No matter where I am in the world, I try to routinely wake up at around 5 a.m.," Branson previously told Inc. "By rising early, I'm able to do some exercise and spend time with my family, which puts me in a great mind frame before getting down to business."
Casey Jones, founder and director of global digital marketing company CJ&CO, recommends waking up early and dedicating that first hour to self-care. "Meditate, exercise, and practice positive affirmations. The idea is to relax your mind and body to supercharge them for the entire day."
2. Turn on the light first thing in the morning.
Light—be it natural or artificial—tells the brain that the day has begun and sends signals to the body to stop producing melatonin, the sleep hormone.
"For productivity, daytime light or bright light with cooler tones help signal to your body that it's time to be alert and ready to focus," explains Robert Soler, co-founder of SkyView Light and former advisor to NASA on circadian lighting. He likens this to the fact that you may feel happier and more productive on a day with a clear blue sky than one that's overcast.
3. Invest in circadian lighting.
Those harsh fluorescent bulbs in your office may be negatively affecting your work performance, according to Soler, who says it's important to invest in circadian lighting that mimics the sun and the sky. "You want to look for a gradient that incorporates different light temperatures as well as the blue reflection of the sky."
He points to a 2022 study published in PLOS Biology that showed such lighting had "beneficial effects on self-reported alertness, performance, mood and improved cognitive performance and higher-order decision making" on daytime office workers. It also showed improved "measures of concentration and reading comprehension" in students.
4. Start your day with a cold shower.
Cold showers can instantly make you more alert, readying you for your tasks ahead. "Cold water exposure has been shown to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood-enhancers," Alex Trevatt, MD, who works as clinical lead at Avon Aesthetics and runs the medical education company Medistudents, previously told Best Life.
Other possible benefits of a cold shower include increased attention, a stronger immune system, and improved circulation.
5. Use the Pomodoro Technique.
If you've never heard of the Pomodoro Technique, you'll want to learn about it now, as the majority of the experts with whom we spoke recommended it for better productivity.
This time management technique was created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, named after the Italian word for tomato as he was inspired by the popular-at-the-time tomato-shaped kitchen timers.
Here's how it goes: Step One—work like your life depends on it for 25 minutes; step two—kick back and relax for five minutes; repeat this for four cycles; then chill for a whole 15 minutes.
The idea is that this technique "can help prevent burnout and fatigue," explains Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and founder of DontPayFull.com. "It's especially useful when dealing with tedious or complex tasks that require intense concentration or creative thinking."
6. Implement the Eisenhower Matrix.
Another popular technique cited by experts is the Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent-Important Matrix. It divides tasks into four categories: Urgent and Important, Not Urgent but Important, Urgent but Not Important, and Not Urgent and Not Important.
Karina Konkova, chief communications officer at developer MY.GAMES, describes it as a "simple but powerful tool that can help you make better decisions about how to use your time and achieve your goals more efficiently." She notes that it can be helpful to use the Eisenhower Matrix for both work and personal tasks.
7. Follow the Two-Minute Rule.
We tend to put off the small stuff, but productivity pros swear by the Two-Minute Rule. It's the idea that if a task takes less than two minutes to complete, you should do it immediately. It's the ultimate way to avoid procrastination.
Juliet Dreamhunter, a certified goal success coach and founder of Juliety, says she likes to step it up by setting a 30-minute timer and seeing how many under-two-minute tasks she can complete within the half-hour.
8. Start timeboxing.
Another time-management technique Dreamhunter likes is timeboxing, which she says is especially helpful if you're a perfectionist who tends to spend too much time on unnecessary details.