Our team, though small, deliver a tough bite when push comes to shove. We care about the quality of our searches and placements. In such a high-functioning job where we manage clients and candidates beyond office hours, it is easy to get burnout and lose sight of the end goal. We do our best we can to avoid getting to that point. Throughout these 7 years, we have tried many things, ditched some, kept quite a few things that work for us and we thought of sharing these hacks with you!
- Eat that frog
The most popular of productivity hacks and one we swear by. You have heard it a thousand times, but can we just say - this. really. works. Get the task you hate but yet you need to do, done first. The “need to do but hate to do” task once done and sorted out, it is a load off your shoulders and everything else won’t feel so heavy and dreadful anymore. A load of your shoulders is such a good boost to start the day and honestly, it really does feel so good to get the things you have been procrastinating on out of the way - FINALLY.
What happens when you have two frogs? Eat the ugliest one first.
“Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worse things that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.” – Brian Tracy, on his blog. Brian Tracy is the author of Eat That Frog, 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating – also one of the books we highly recommend you give a read.
- Know your peak period
Everyone functions at different speeds, and the best at different times. For most of us, post-lunch fatigue is the most difficult time of the afternoon. If your peak performance is between 8 am to 11 am then use that time to complete your Frogs. The enthusiasm and energy level that you have during your peak performance period will offload the sluggish feeling you get when you're not in your best hour.
- Take a stand
This one is something that some of us actually do, including our MD. We either shift our workplace temporarily somewhere else within the office or we use an extendable desk. Anytime we feel lethargic, we extend the desk upwards and shift into a standing position. It actually helps. Moving around or standing up while doing your work will refresh you, and more than, it will actually reduce your risk of diabetes or heart disease.
“New science shows very persuasively that standing up about every 20 minutes, even for only a minute or two, reduces your risks of developing diabetes and heart disease.By standing up, you cause the big muscles in your legs and back to contract, which leads to an increase in certain enzymes that break up fat in the bloodstream. You don’t have to jog in place or do jumping jacks. Just stand. A very pleasant additional benefit is that standing up every 20 to 30 minutes also seems to prompt the body to burn calories, so you don’t gain as much weight from sitting at the office most of the day.”
- Use the Pomodoro Technique
Break down your work into intervals of 25 minutes with five minutes in between for short breaks. Some people are comfortable with a longer period. Use an alarm, your phone, or even download apps (like ‘Calm’) that will ring as a reminder. The technique was developed to allow people to focus on short sprints of work before taking a breather. We have a colleague who uses an actual timer that will ring once her 35 minutes is up. It allows her to deep-dive into her task with maximum concentration before taking a break.
- Cut to the chase
It is almost reflex to reply an email with an email. Why not just provide an adequate response to temporarily kill the matter, right? Well, the thing is...there are times when much more can be done in a faster time when we pick up the phone and call someone or when we just send a quick text instead of waiting on them. We have colleagues who dedicate a specific time every other day to make those calls or texts!
- Schedule time to check emails. Emails don’t have to be instant like texts.
Reading emails and deleting stuff from our inbox takes up precious time and cuts into your “zone” mood. If you are working on a task and constantly replying to the emails coming in, productivity drops and you lose concentration.
Schedule once in the morning before work to catch up on news, mid-morning after your FROG, once in the afternoon and before you leave for home. Don't let the urge to reply to emails instantly kill your concentration dealing with your task!
- Use your commute time
The understated commute time is one of our favourites. One of our colleagues recently stopped driving to work a few times a week so she can use the morning commute to review her plans and to-dos for the day. The morning commute also helps her get in the zone with tech news to stay updated. Taking advantage of the morning and evening commute maximises her efficiency and gives her time to review what is done for the day and what she can focus on the next day.
Dedicate an hour at the end of the workday to plan your next day. Look through pending emails, brainstorm ideas, prep yourself on how your day is going to be like, or write your to-dos. Some prefer to do the planning during the morning’s commute time (if you are lucky to get a seat) so that you gain momentum before you step into the office. Once you are in, you do not even need to spend another 10 minutes warming up. You are already ahead of time.
- The Ivy Lee method
Want to achieve peak productivity? Write down the six most important things you need to accomplish. What makes this method so effective? It forces you to make tough decisions and also gives you an opportunity to single-task instead of multitask. The method was used in 1918, and it still is being written about and implemented today!
- Getting Things Done (GTD) method
The mother of all productivity hacks has got to be the GTD method. The framework revolves around capturing, clarifying, organising, reflecting and engaging. There is no right or wrong way to the method because the crux of it is that GTD is a process that will allow you to major decisions on urgent work plus look at what you need to do next. It is recommended by David Allen who also authored the bestselling book and is a productivity consultant. Allen believes that “our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organised can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential”.
One of our colleagues’ practices prioritising tasks based on the ones that are closest to the revenue line. Another one of our colleagues does not multitask at all - he gives his 150% in a single task so once it is done, he knows for sure that he can move on to the next task without simultaneously working on something else or stressing about something else.
- Using a bullet journal
This has been quite a trend in recent years. While it might be tough for people in the technology world to use this written journal style effectively, “on the fly” and “accessible on all devices” for the 40-50 tasks we do a day, it has been useful for some of the colleagues here to plan the day, write objectives and wrap up their days with some self reflection.
Written by: Yasmeen Banu and Josephine Chia