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21 May 2013

10 Productivity Hacks To Get You Through


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


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Working long hours does not necessarily equate to high productivity. There are numerous ways in which we can become more productive, simply by applying a few rules and through some creative thinking. Even something as simple as how you sit can affect your productivity.

Be decisive

Weighing up pro’s and con’s, mulling over what to do next, or waiting for instruction on what your next task is is not getting you anywhere, productivity is ‘zero’. Making a decision and sticking to it will get you going. It may be that the decision you make is not the right one, learn from this and carry on. Spending all of your time ‘thinking about doing something’ will lead to distraction and low productivity.

Here is a great article entitled ‘9 Steps to be Decisive’ explaining techniques you can use to gain clarity and become more decisive.


Richard Branson says that he is ‘twice as productive’ due to the regular exercise he takes, in his case running. Exercise during the workday improves productivity, research has shown. A study by the University of Bristol showed that after exercising, participants returned to work more tolerant of  their colleagues. Their productivity was also consistently higher, displayed by improved time management and mental sharpness.


This one sounds obvious, but it is an important element in keeping productivity high. Getting the important things done first, and leaving the less important, non urgent, tasks until later will get things done in the right order. Rather than creating a huge ‘to do’ list, add the important items to your calendar and set chunks of time to accomplish each. Working under pressure or within time constraints is known to concentrate your efforts.

Get to work early

As well as missing the rush hour traffic, getting to the office early will give you precious time in a quiet environment with little or no distraction. It is likely that this will be the most productive part of your day, allowing you to get ahead of the game.

Simplify and de-clutter

Having a tidy work space is not only psychologically beneficial, but will also make finding your things quicker and allow you to concentrate on your work. Making your work space a ‘nice place to be’ will also make the time you spend at your desk a more pleasant experience and help to make Monday mornings easier to swallow.Photojojo offices Photojojo offices – credit: Life Hacker

Avoid the net

Try and avoid internet surfing. It’s very easy to get sucked into a lengthy article or interesting video and this uses up valuable time. Visiting your favourite sites and interacting on social sites can be done at lunchtime or after work, not during.

Anti planning

An anti-plan has you throw out all such rules and just dive in, adapting, as best you can, to your circumstances. It requests only that you keep a record of your experience, capturing, for later review, your thoughts, triumphs, and frustrations.”

The theory behind anti-planning is that it exposes you to a much wider swathe of the productivity plan landscape. Your journal will keep you updated on how well you’re doing, which provides the selective pressure needed to drive you towards some novel approaches to getting more depth out of your working habits.

Time and location boxing

Time boxing is the concept of allocating a period of time to an activity. This can be taken a step further by assigning a location to a particular activity. This not only allows a change of scenery but, chosen correctly, will increase your productivity, concentration, creativity, etc. For instance, running through your emails could be completed at the local coffee shop, whereas creating a marketing campaign could be completed at an inspirational location, maybe a room overlooking the city or park.

The half hour productivity hack

If you have a personal project or goal, but you find it difficult to motivate yourself to do anything about it, especially after a long day at work, try this. For 1/2 an hour straight after work, work on your personal project. Don’t take a break between work and the 1/2 hour of personal project time, not even to eat a snack, just get on with it. It’s not a huge amount of time but proves very productive and rewarding.

Stop waiting for the ‘right moment’

Waiting for the right time to say or do something is simply a delaying tactic. Why wait and delay the inevitable, it’s just wasting your (and possibly others) time.