Hackers Digest #43: Do Less Work

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Welcome to this week’s installment of the Hackers Digest, a feature that shines a light on some of the more interesting and engaging ideas about productivity that emerged over the past several days. We explore every nook and cranny of the Internet to find the six best hacks and productivity stories of the week so you don’t have to.

Here’s what’s on tap this week:

1. Four science-backed tricks to increase your productivity.

There’s no shortage of productivity gurus out there that swear they have the secret to increasing your output. There’s even a guy who says the best way to get ahead each week is by pulling an all-nighter on Sunday night. He says he’s able to crank out a ton of work during the wee hours when his wife and kids are sound asleep. Maybe his system works for him, and that’s okay. But it’s probably pretty safe to say most people need to get a good night’s sleep before they start their workweek. Instead of taking anecdotal advice to increase your productivity, maybe it’s time you turn to science. A number of studies have proven that there are indeed science-based ways we can make ourselves more effective workers. Among them? Trying to work in natural light, taking naps, and taking a break every 90 minutes. For more on those tips and others, head to Fox News.

2. Flip around your to-do list.

There are only so many hours in the day. To stay on top of all of our assignments and remain productive, many of us jot down our objectives on a to-do list each day. But as our lists get longer and longer, it’s simply not possible to tackle everything every single day. That being the case, is it possible that you’re spending too much time spreading yourself out too thin? Instead of writing a to-do list each morning, you may want to write a “stop-doing” list instead. What habits of yours tend to eat up your day when you’re trying to work? At the very least, a stop-doing list may force you to take a step back and look at certain changes you can make to get more done each day. The story is over at Verily.

3. You’re spending too much time in your inbox.

It’s no secret that email is an incredibly important tool in the modern business world. If you’re a knowledge worker, you probably check your inbox 11 times an hour. Well the dust settles, you end up spending 28% of your entire workweek reading, writing and managing email. Which isn’t exactly the most efficient use of time, to say the least. If you want to take your game to the next level, it’s time to reexamine your approach to email. Don’t be the guy or gal who’s in their inbox constantly. Work strategically and process your emails in batches. You may feel as though you need to keep popping over to your inbox to make sure you didn’t miss anything important. Use VIP notifications so whenever important people drop you a message you’ll know right away. More on those tips and others are over on The Guardian.

4. These 17 terrible habits are holding you back.

Since you’ve just learned about the concept of the stop-doing list, perhaps it’s time to put it to use. There are a number of bad habits you’re almost certainly guilty of that are preventing you from reaching your full potential. For example, hitting the snooze button in the morning might feel great for those extra nine minutes. But voila, do that once a day, and there goes 45 minutes from your week. It may not seem like much at the time, but at the end of the year it adds up. If you’re running late for work, you might also think that skipping breakfast can help you reclaim some time. But then your body’s running on an empty tank to start off your day. Do you sit down too much during the day? Go for a walk. You’ll have more energy and be able to better focus on the task at hand. Those tips—and 14 others—are over on Business Insider.

5. Start tackling your real work first thing in the morning.

Our tasks at work can be divided into two categories: there’s the “work” we do, and then there’s the actual work we do. In the former category, there’s checking emails, attending meetings and doing administrative duties. The latter category, on the other hand, contains the actual work—projects, white papers or sales—you do that help you meet your own goals while assisting the company in achieving theirs. To be successful, one writer claims you need to tackle the real work you have on your plate first thing in the morning. Set aside a full hour to really dive deep into your work when you start your day, and you should see your productivity increase. Head to Inc. for the story.

6. Take work off of your employees’ plates.

If you’re in a management position, you’re very interested in improving your team’s productivity as much as you can. But no matter how much you might improve workflows and expedite decision making, your employees are still human. They can only handle so much work each week. Unfortunately, there’s a trend in today’s business world to squeeze workers for every last bit of worth. But what if it’s possible to make your team more effective by taking work off of each employee’s plate? Quality matters, after all. If you want your team to be healthy, happy and productive, make sure they have a manageable workload. Don’t keep adding tasks to it each week—take tasks off. The less stressful your office is, the more productive your workers will be. Quartz has the scoop.

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