Our Editors Share Their Most Effective Productivity Tips
You're six words into an email when pop! A bright red circle alerts you to an unread Slack message from a co-worker. She's wondering if you've finished up that strategy deck. "I'm working on the final two slides," you begin when you feel your pocket buzz. Your best friend just DM’ed you a beaded gown she's eyeing for her big day. You tap the photo and peruse the rest of the bridal feed, getting lost in layered cakes and flower crowns and wait—are those wedding taco trucks? You peer up from your phone to Google the phenomenon—only to find your abandoned email staring back at you.
With the deluge of daily pop-up notifications and the black hole that is social media, it's a wonder we’re able to get anything done at all. So we asked some PureWow editors who seem to take it all in stride for some productivity advice. Here, their best tips for staying on track in a world full of distractions.
Best Productivity Tips
1. BOOMERANG—best for when your inbox is also your to-do list. – Mary Kate, Chief Content Officer
2. Noise-cancelling headphones. Not super innovative, but noise-cancelling headphones are my savior for productivity. They keep me from getting involved in superfluous conversations that always derail my work. Also, a mental trick I use is that on days I know I've got to get sh*t done, I tell myself before I even get to work, "Today I am going to put on my headphones and speak to as few people as possible." It sounds psycho and antisocial but it helps me prioritize. Sometimes you just gotta work! – Katherine, Associate Food Editor
3. Time blocking. I time block! I write out my schedule the day before and make a list of the things I need to do before work, during work (sometimes going as granular as before noon and after noon) and after work. It helps me stay on task throughout the day and not lose track of loose ends. – Rachel, Director, Special Projects
4. Find a quiet space. As quite a few people in this office can attest, I like to go sit in the hallway when I have a lot to get done. And while it's fairly absurd that there's no place else for me to go, I find isolating myself in a quiet space devoid of any physical distractions to be super helpful. I want no notebooks, water bottles, or to-do lists to stress me out. For most people that's more likely to be an empty office or conference room than the hall floor but, hey, any quiet space will do!! – Abby, Associate Editor
5. Go analogue...and also meditate. I started a bullet journal, which is much better than trying to get all the details on digital platforms. I keep a skinny retractable pencil inside the journal so I'm not going nuts trying to find the pencil. The tiny notes on the bullet journal help keep me organized.
Twenty minutes of meditation every morning, even if I am just flat on my back in bed, before I even get out of bed, help sort of clear my mental slate so I can tackle one thing at a time during the day without losing my concentration or cool. – Dana, Senior Editor
6. A change of scenery. I usually try to move from my desk and work in a completely new setting in order to boost productivity. It really helps to have a change of scenery when you want to get a lot done, since your mind is more alert when it's not in the same ol' routine and same ol' place (your desk). – Roberta, Branded Content Editor
7. Email myself a to-do list. On a truly crazy day, I will email my inbox (personal or work) with a "To Do's - Date" subject line. As I go through the day completing tasks, I will reply to that email thread with an ever-shrinking list of tasks. It feels great to watch the thing I have to get done disappear off the list. – Corley, Manager, People Operations
8. Write down everything I need to achieve. To-do lists! I'm a very visual person, so seeing what I have to do each day and week really keeps me on track and helps me to not fall behind. I use the Notes app and Stickies on my desktop. I jot everything I need to remember to do daily/weekly and refer back to it all day long. – Emily, Audience Development Editor
9. Wake up earlier and focus on a single task. When I need to work on a task that requires complete, uninterrupted focus, I’ll wake up an hour or two earlier than normal to get it done before heading into the office. Taking that calm stretch of time to think clearly before all of the e-mails and work chats flood in at 9 a.m. is so helpful. – Michaela, Social Editor