We Personally Tested These 6 Productivity Hacks. Here’s What We Found…
by Sjoerd Klaver on October 4, 2022
At PSOhub, we’re basically productivity nerds.
We like to try new things– both professionally and at home– to see what little choices can really improve efficiency and ultimately, quality of life.
We think about productivity. We write about productivity. We think about how software can help increase it. You get the idea.
But it’s that experimentation that really helps us see what works and what doesn’t. It’s finding that simple thing that can benefit your efficiency in work and in life.
We love experimenting with productivity hacks!
Like much of life, with experimentation comes success, failure, and ambivalence–
In other words, not all the common productivity hacks people preach about online work for everyone.
As a matter of fact, certain productivity hacks are completely unfeasible or even unhealthy for many of us.
That’s why we picked 6 of the most popular productivity hacks we commonly see on the internet. And we rated them based on our own experience.
Check out these supposed productivity boosters and our 2 cents about each one, i.e. Does it really work? Who does it work for? Why does it work?
We’ve collectively experimented with them all and want to share our discoveries. Let the productivity nerdiness commence!
Productivity Hack #6 Wake Up Earlier
Feeling stressed? Wish you could fit more hours in the day to accomplish what you want? When you voice these things to another person, or in the case of Google, an algorithm, one of the first pieces of advice you’ll get is to simply wake up earlier.
Mark Wahlberg (the actor) famously wakes up at around 3 AM every day and is in bed by 7:30 PM. He’s a successful actor and investor and fitness enthusiast, among other things: a productive person all-around.
Other influential people known for their early bird ways include Tim Cook, Michelle Obama, Jack Dorsey, and more.
Then there are others, like this relatable mom, who swear by the early morning wake-up, not necessarily to do anything productive, but rather to do nothing. This creates time and space for early birds to meditate, relax with a book, or simply just ‘be’.
Our Verdict: As evident from social proof and even the medical community, waking up earlier really can help boost your productivity. Whether it’s accomplishing steps toward a goal or simply engaging in recovery-style alone time, gaining those couple extra hours can go a long way… FOR SOME.
For others, getting a solid 8 hours of sleep is more important to overall productivity and well-being. Waking up early when you just fell asleep a few hours before, we think, is actually a hindrance to productivity. At the end of the day, we like this hack, but a restful night’s sleep of 7+ hours takes precedence.
Productivity Hack #5 Exercise Every AM
In the same vein as the ubiquitous ‘just-get-up-earlier’ hack, exercising in the early hours of the morning is another productivity tip that many people swear by. One of these is again, Mark Wahlberg, an unintended hero on our list.
Exercise releases endorphins, which can aid you in both physically and mentally feeling good for the rest of the day.
Plus, people really feel like they accomplish something when they exercise. Accomplishing something before 8 AM? That’s an even better accomplishment. Working out in the morning can not only keep you healthy, but it can also boost those pathways of confidence knowing that you’ve achieved something before you officially get started for the day.
Our Verdict: Exercising in the morning before getting the day started is almost always a good idea with very few drawbacks. The energy and overall health benefits you receive are boons to your productivity levels throughout the day. We consider this a tried-and-true hack to feeling better in general, but again, a restful night’s sleep takes precedence.
Productivity Hack #4 Multitasking vs Monotasking
The multitasking school of thought says that the more you can do at one time, the more productive you will become. On the flip side, die-hard monotaskers insist that multitasking is actually the enemy of productivity. There’s a mountain of information on both sides to suggest that each is superior. But really the multitasking vs monotasking answer is more nuanced, with each increasing productivity only in certain situations.
Our Verdict: Multitasking is a necessary evil at work, and a terrible productivity hack for professional services. In the work environment, we are more productive focusing on one thing at a time. This goes for those of us that are creatives and those that are working with customers. Admin, planning items, keeping track of deadlines, and whatever else needs to be done in the background can be done with software.
Households cannot be run without multitasking. Doing laundry while you cook dinner and spend time with your family is the natural way of doing things. Don’t beat yourself up for multitasking at home, when in fact, many situations call for it.
Productivity Hack #3 Time Blocking
A favorite of both the PSOhub team and PSOhub users is the great time-blocking hack. There are a few popular intervals people prefer, but in a nutshell, time blocking involves breaking your work up into smaller chunks of time. It’s a favorite of mono-taskers, as each block of your time is pre-planned to focus on a single task.
Most people who use this productivity hack will break up their time into 20-30 minute blocks with breaks in-between for about 5 minutes or so. Time blocking is great for days when you feel sluggish, as an entire workday may seem daunting, but 20 minutes is a doable feat.
Our Verdict: Time blocking is great to get you revved up on days when momentum is low. It’s also great when you’re under the gun timewise and need to be as efficient as possible. That said, we recommend using time blocking only when necessary, as we found it to be unsustainable day in and day out.
Productivity Hack #2 Switch Up Your Workspace
This hack is admittedly more for remote work, but you can still do it while in the office, too. Switching up your workspace and working from a different location can be a huge productivity boost. If you feel like you’re in a rut, try working in a different space. A new environment can give the brain different stimuli and help you feel energized as you go about your work. If you don’t work remotely, even simply working outside for a couple of hours or taking a meeting in a coffee shop can help you feel refreshed and recharged.
Our Verdict: This is one of the best productivity hacks out there, provided you have the ability to actually do the switch-up. We recommend working outdoors or in spaces with a lot of natural light. Once you get sick of a new workspace, switch things up again. Or go back and visit old haunts. It makes the workday more interesting, and for us, it can really help the brain stay fresh.
Productivity Hack #1 Do The 1 Thing
Our #1 productivity hack is the hands-down favorite because you can apply it to any and all facets of your life. It’s called doing the 1 thing. It works like this:
Lots of productive people (ourselves included) are regular list makers. They may wake up every morning to make a list, make a weekly list, or have multiple lists going at once. That’s all well and good, but it can get overwhelming quickly.
This is where doing the 1 thing really comes in handy–
What you do is instead of making a list of say 5 things to do, you think of just 1 thing you can accomplish that will trigger action on the other tasks. In other words, the rest of the tasks will unfold naturally, like dominoes.
While sometimes equated with monotasking, doing the 1 thing is not exactly the same. It’s about making more creative, intelligent decisions as to what specific task will essentially be the moving force of all that follows.
A great example of doing the 1 thing is simply showing up. In tons of professional and personal situations, showing up is arguably half the battle. What you have to do once you ‘show up’ will move forward anyway, based on the momentum of the 1 thing. This hack is all about not getting overwhelmed by mountains of tasks.
Our Verdict: Doing the 1 thing is one of the best productivity hacks of all time. It’s all about working smarter and not harder. So instead of getting overwhelmed with a massive to-do list, you can pause and think a little differently about how to go about it. Just do one thing. And in many cases, that one thing is showing up. The result? Accomplishing more with less effort and stress.
Put It All Together Now
The above represent the top 5 productivity hacks of all the little suggestions that abound online. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to keeping your productivity on track, but rather, you can leverage hacks based on your situation and drop/add them as life changes.
All in all, ‘doing the 1 thing’ is the most useful hack you can apply to your life both in and out of the office. It can help you get more accomplished sans overwhelming stress, and a lot of successful people swear by it.
On top of that, switch up your workspace when you feel particularly unproductive or stuck. Use multitasking at home to keep your household functional and monotasking when working on a project, especially when time and creativity are top of mind.
Exercising in the morning provides tons of benefits, but like rising super early, it’s not for everyone. A good night’s rest takes precedence over these two hacks hands down.