The very days you are hacked off because you can’t seem to get anything done are the very days you need a few hacks in your world.
The slang “hacked off,” meaning getting angry, may have come from the tech world where system administrators are upset because their sites may have been victimized- or hacked.
On the other hand, hacks have become slang for great ways to fix something. They are a tip, tool or technique you might not have thought of for doing a task. Since I’m all about being productive, I love a good hack. Give me a way to do something efficiently and I’ll shout it from the roof tops.
It seemed like a good idea to pull together some of my favorite hacks. If you can find a few of these to use yourself, and save some time, then you can funnel that saved time into making money or quality family time or even “me” time you know you need.
Here’s some of our best productivity hacks…
Cord Control: Stop crawling under the desk to find the cords that slipped to the floor when you unplugged everything to work elsewhere. Doesn’t it seem like every time you do that, it takes 10 minutes to get the cords back where you want them? Buy some large size binder clips- large enough to clip on the edge or your desk. Run your charge cord or printer cable through the wire on the binder clip. Snap the clip on the edge at the back or side of your desk. Now your cord can only go as far as the clip.
Drawer Scramble: Every time you open that drawer and close it, the contents do a jig until they are all a mess. Now you never can find a paperclip or a postage stamp. Use a muffin tin to create great desk drawer organization. Those 12 holes for the muffins give you a dozen spots to sort out your do-dads.
Project Profile: Put projects front and center by creating a grid of clipboards in your office. I’ve had a grid of a dozen clipboards over my desk. They can be used to hold client info, project info or various categories of things you work on such as bills to pay or lists or projects to bid on. If you want to get all cute, have at it and spray paint them or cover them with wall paper. But most important, use them to clean up that desk. Now when you need to work on A, you can find A.
Build a Routine: If you sometimes feel like you are running in circles, then you need a routine. Have a set routine for getting out the door in the morning. If need be, start out by making a checklist of everything you need to do from feeding the pet to thawing something for dinner to taking a shower. Getting a routine saves a ton of time because forgetting things and doubling back is a sure time waster.
Batch Errands: Keep a basket by the door. Anything that goes out of the house goes in the basket. Try to run errands on your way somewhere. For example, drop off the dry cleaning on the way to work instead of making a separate trip on the weekend.
Get up Early: Make the earliest doctor appointment they have. If you are the first or second appointment in the day, there is less chance of you having to wait than if you are the twelfth of appointment and they are running late plus have squeezed in emergencies.
Make a Menu: Make that menu and grocery list and shop once for the week. I’ve even shopped for two weeks at a time and just stopped at a produce stand to add some fresh veggies for the second week. The more times you have to go to the store, find a place to park, walk through the whole store, take it to the car, drive home, unload it…well, you get the idea. You could have done a week’s worth or two weeks’ worth in the same amount of time.
Fuel Up: Not you…the car. Keep an eye on the gauge and find a way to get fuel when you have gone out for lunch, are getting groceries or between appointments. Don’t wait and need fuel when you need to work.
Clothes without Wrinkles: Build a habit to not put anything in your closet that isn’t ready to wear. Make sure it is pressed or steamed and ready to go. If that isn’t your cup of tea, then start using a dry-cleaner. There are even ones that deliver. If your closet is so jammed everything gets wrinkled, them it is time to declutter. Donate. Sell some to consignment. Move out of season clothes to storage to make room. Take the steps you need so when you reach in your closet in the morning, no iron is involved.
Be Breakfast Ready: You can’t do a productive day at work if you don’t fuel yourself. Plan ahead. Buy high protein bars, boil a dozen eggs so you can easily reach for one, chop up fruit for smoothies and throw it in the freezer so it is blender ready or keep whole grain English muffins and almond butter handy. The point is to plan ahead for grab-and-go nutritional starts.
Never Remember to Back-Up: Nothing will ruin your life like losing your files. Got cloud-service automatic backups going? It will back up your files every time you are online. For less than $10 a month, there is no excuse for you not being covered.
App Up: Get a notetaking app, such as Evernote. Use it to make lists and keep notes on your phone.
Doodle: Use your noodle and get online to schedule meetings instead of emailing or calling around trying to figure out when everyone is free. Visit Doodle.com and use this free meeting scheduling service.
No New Ideas: Remember the saying there are no new ideas. Always turn to the Internet to see if you can find what you need before spending time “inventing” it. Need a business form? Bet there is a free template for it online. Look for already designed templates and business materials you can add your logo or name to instead of starting from scratch. Use your time then for something else.
There’s not always a shortcut for things. Sometimes you just have to buckle down and do one thing at a time. The best hack of all – for every category – is prioritization. You’ll be a lot less crazy if you take a deep breath and focus. What is the most important task that needs doing right now? Do that one first. Works every time.