Want to get more done? Use this productivity hack.

Hint: it's in your pocket.

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Have you ever noticed how we time our meetings and even our workouts but we rarely time quotidien tasks in our lives? What would happen if you start timing your most common tasks such as how long it takes you to get ready in the morning or how long it takes you to prepare a work presentation or read ten pages of a book?

What I’ve found is that the more I time myself to do certain tasks, the more efficient I become at doing them and the better my brain gets at accurately measuring time. For example, I’ve noticed that if I set the timer to 20 minutes to get ready for work, with enough repetition I now finish right at 19 minutes and 55 seconds, give and take a few seconds. In other words, my brain is getting used to what twenty minutes feels like, accurately accomplishing the task at hand right before the timer goes off. Boom.

Chunking down your time and demanding that you focus on one thing and one thing only creates urgency, maximizes your productivity, and frees up more time for you to do other things.

-Jen Sincero

Schedule Everything

Train your brain to learn how long your most important tasks take by timing them. With enough repetition, you will be able to instinctually predict and measure how long a single task takes you. I use my iPhone’s timer to schedule important tasks every day, thus allowing me do more over the span of my waking hours.

What’s fascinating about setting a timer is the fact that if you tell yourself you only have 15 minutes to do X, you will find a way to make it happen. Sometimes we think we need more time than we actually need to accomplish a task.

This is specially useful with work meetings. Long are the days where meetings took one full hour. Nowadays, most 1:1 meetings are between thirty and forty-five minutes, and I challenge myself to leave a five-minute buffer at the end to transition into the next meeting.

Time Your Most Common Tasks:

  • Your morning routine. If you don’t have one, check my blog on the benefits of establishing a morning ritual.
  • Getting ready for work: shower, getting dressed, making coffee, make-up, commute time to work, etc
  • Exercising: cardio time, weight time, yoga time, relaxation time, etc.
  • Prepping meals, grocery shopping (oh, the joy of grocery shopping!).
  • 1:1 meetings: leave at least five minutes to transition between meetings.
  • Reading/Journaling. For example, I set my timer to read thirty minutes in the morning and journal for fifteen minutes. Once I sit down to read, my brain now predicts when thirty minutes have gone up before the timer goes off. Magic.

You will reap these benefits:

You will be more present.

You will accomplish more.

You will focus on the task at hand and bypass interruptions.

You will prevent decision fatigue.

At the beginning, I would let every ding on my phone or notification on Facebook catch my attention like the visual of a squirrel to a dog. There, squirrel! But over time, I’ve trained myself to ignore the dings and better yet, I silenced my phone so I don’t get any notifications until the allotted time has gone up.

With enough repetition, you will allow your brain to go in auto-pilot for the most common tasks, leaving you with more decision-making power to accomplish important milestones of the day.

Want more?

Check out these 6 productivity boosters you can do every day

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