Do you have two extra minutes?
Then you have enough time to be more productive.
David Allen of the Getting Things Done method says that’s all the time you need to decide what to do next on one of your tasks. Sounds easy, right? It’s actually a new habit that must be developed over time.
Productivity writer and expert James Clear takes that concept further. He says that two minutes is all you need to start new productivity habits. No, you can’t accomplish all of your goals in only two minutes, but you can at least dedicate two minutes to beginning or thinking about the tips below.
Once your two minutes are up, you’ve gained some momentum. The next time you try it, it’ll be easier. All of the tips below can be started in under two minutes. For tip number one, you can write down at least a few of them in two minutes.
Are you ready? Dedicate two minutes to trying and thinking about each of these tasks and see what a difference they make.
1. Write things down
It’s impossible to remember every item that you need to do each day. Work tasks can be forgotten in the midst of personal tasks, and vice versa. Maintaining a regular to-do list will help you keep your next tasks top of mind. Make lists on paper or choose a helpful to-do list app where you can set up recurring tasks or reminders. The point is, don’t keep everything in your head. It won’t stay there.
One of the benefits of ClickUp is the flexibility to use it for your personal task management and work projects, even in the same team with private and public spaces.
2. Choose a system and prioritize your work
The busiest people will need a system for managing all of the information, tasks, and responsibilities being thrown their way. The Get Things Done methodology has become a popular way to manage that flow because it gives you direct steps on how to take action with your email and clutter. There are other methods to prioritize your work, including a simple quadrant, ranking the importance of each item; selecting your most important things for the day and other similar strategies.
3. Ask for help
Often in a professional sense, we think of asking for help as an admission of failure. But in fact, it can be a more productive way to finish tasks. Instead of struggling for hours on end, asking for help from someone senior or with a different skill may lead to a faster solution. To properly ask for help, try it for a reasonable amount of time and then provide some options that you’ve already tried or that you think may work.
4. Take breaks
You’re not a robot. And until the singularity happens, you’ll still need to take a break. In fact, breaks restore our energy levels, helping us feel more energized when we turn back to the task at hand. Walks can also re-energize your mind and provide a much-needed boost as you think about problems in a new and different environment.
Also, it’s important to manage when you eat. Growth marketer Sunil Neurgaonkar says that When you eat, your body is focusing on digesting the food. “If you need to get something done, your body needs to be focused on getting things done and nothing else. That’s why people are more productive before lunch and less productive after,” he says.
Note: See how to be more productive in this productivity guide!
5. Avoid notification overload
It’s an impossible conundrum–the tools that help us do our work also demand our constant attention. This is notification overload as we move between each ping and ding without actually doing the tasks in front of us. To combat this, only check your emails and notifications occasionally or on a set schedule. You may need to put your phone in another room, keep it in your desk drawer or turn it off for periods of time.
ClickUp has created a dynamic notification system where you get notifications about projects and tasks when they are most convenient for you. Select how you want to be notified and when–such as only on your phone or in the web browser. You can also set reminders for any upcoming deadlines, helping you stay on task–while eliminating any unnecessary notifications. Check it out!
6. Thoughtfully accept meetings
For some companies, it’s a badge of honor to have your whole day full of meetings. Jumping from one conference room to another, shouting out your opinion and scratching your brilliant thoughts on as many whiteboards as you can find. But that doesn’t make sense for the real strategic work that must be done. Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame suggests having dedicated office hours for meetings–this is easy to do if you’re in control. But what if you’re not? It may mean declining a few of the invitations, especially if you’ve got your head down working on an important project. Or even if you’re not and need some time for blue ocean thinking. Don’t let meetings dictate your schedule. Another option is to avoid some of the routine meeting updates with a project management tool like ClickUp. You can list out details, updates and even review and comment without having to meet face to face.
7. Use productivity apps
Productivity apps aren’t only to-do list apps. These apps contain ways to remember passwords, scan business cards, timers and more. Using these tools the right way will lead to more focused attention and provide you with a few easy shortcuts. Here’s a list of productivity apps to help you get started and save a few precious extra minutes.
8. Try meditation
How does meditation help you? Doesn’t it take valuable time away? No, in fact, it helps with your willpower and strengthens your resolve to resist those notifications and other distractions. It also focuses your mind and helps you think through your day before you jump in with both feet. Another practice to try is priming. This is a breathing exercise that Tony Robbins suggests! Here’s more info on how you can incorporate priming in your morning routine.
9. Simplify your workflow
If your workflow has a lot of steps, see if there are ways you can cut it down. There may be some redundancies that are tripping up your team. With a streamlined workflow, you’ll save time which could help your company make millions (depending on your company!). One way to help you do this is with checklists that ensure each step is accounted for. Another step is getting pre-approvals with clear project details to empower your team and colleagues to make a tangible impact. Project templates can also solidify your process and helps all of your team members take the same steps.
10. Prioritize your personal well-being
Overworking employees leads to more burnout and less productivity. That also means more turnover…which then means more training. Rockstar employees make your business hum, and the way to keep them happy is emphasizing a great work-life balance.
But the title of this tip isn’t work-life balance, because sometimes great work gives meaning and purpose to employees. Not all people are made the same, and creating meaning through work can be incredibly engaging and stimulating. Noted author John Coleman says that “purpose is built, not found.” Often, you’ll have to find values in your work that line up with what you’re doing, such as crafting the work you want to do out of the work you’ve been assigned. And finding a little extra in how you’re serving your customers or your skills.
11. Say no
It’s not mean. It could be for your own good and for the person who is asking you. This may seem counterintuitive to Tip #3, but it’s also good to recognize your limitations and to think about what the request is. It doesn’t have to be you saving someone from their own disorganized system. It doesn’t have to be you rescuing a person that you know hasn’t put in the time or learned the right skills. The requests could also be very unreasonable.
This productivity tip takes the most nuance, and is very context-specific.
12. Plan your next day
Each day, go back to #1 and start over. Review the next day’s activities and go back to #1 and write things down that you’ll be tackling the next morning. This will clear your mind for the rest of the day and give you a fresh start with a new to-do list. At ClickUp, we always list to the team what we accomplished the day before and what we’re working on next. Everyone is involved and we can clearly see how our next day or two will pan out. The Notepad in ClickUp is a great tool to help you keep track of any notes or reminders that affect your daily activity.
Many of these productivity tips involve having the right mindset and environment to get things done. With the two minute rule in place, it’s easy to try out each of these productivity tips.
And another quick note: Many people don’t want to try and be more productive because they see how their team affects their productivity. How can I be more productive when Person X is the bottleneck?
Even though others can affect your environment, there are many productive habits that you can develop aside from what others do. Once you have these key productivity tips in place, you’ll find it much easier to collaborate with others because you won’t be as influenced by their whims or preferences. It only take a few minutes to get started.