My top 4 productivity hacks for 2021

Digital nomad working on a laptop and phone, productivity hacks
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

1. Turn off all notifications

I turn off all notifications on all my devices, for all my apps except for Calendar, Reminders, Facetime and Messages. Do Not Disturb (under Focus) allows me to mute everyone’s calls, except my family. I have created a family group in my contacts with friends and family whose calls I can’t miss. We are constantly testing applications and digital products. That means I stare at a computer screen for most of the day. The last thing I need is notifications popping up on my screen every second.

Throughout the day, I systematically check for emails and messages when I take my tea breaks. This puts me in charge of what and when I see notifications from different apps. I also Don’t Allow new apps to send me notifications. It has become my default preference choice. Devices are here for my convenience, so I limit their ability to grab my attention at inconvenient times.

2. Don’t pack too much in one day

I keep my planning to a minimum, mostly because some tasks are now an obvious part of my daily routine. In the morning I check for new updates on App Store and check for urgent follow-up emails that require responses from me. I have to check emails in the morning because we work with many people in different time zones. It helps to respond to them as soon as possible whenever I can. Small routine tasks like that don’t make it on my calendar or to-do list. I tend to remember them off the top of my head, receiving notifications for them would just be annoying.

If I must, I schedule a maximum of three tasks per day. These are items I have to do, usually, things I have either postponed for a while or I have been forgetting to do. Since I quit med school, there hasn’t been a lot of those. My days are spontaneously a mixture of trying different apps, scriptwriting, recording videos and editing them. Since I do this every day and I systematically work through different apps with an algorithm of sorts, I don’t actually need to sit down and plan for every day of the week.

3. Plan around what matters

I decided, a long time ago, that I am not going to be one of those people that wish they had spent more time with their loved ones. Relationships matter the most to me and I have tried to build my workflow around them. I am first a daughter, sister, girlfriend… hopefully wife, mother and grandmother in the future. I intend to be all of those things when it’s required of me.

I love spending time with my loved ones, be it on a phone call or physically. I always make time for them, when they look for me. My daily routines and workflows have been designed around them. That is why I don’t ignore their phone calls and I loosely pack my days. It probably sounds ridiculous, but it has worked great for me so far. Here’s how that whole set-up works:

  • I am always free for a chat. It doesn’t matter what I am doing, I always make time to talk to my parents, siblings and close friends. They all know that if you’re feeling lonely, chances are, Ropsie is free for an hour’s chat. Funny thing about that is, I tend to recieve those once a week because everyone is so busy working. Technically, it doesn’t take up much of my time.
  • I have adapted to work during odd hours of the night, when everyone is sleeping. Usually, time I lose during the day, I make up for in the night. I have reserved the early hours for the night for most of my work, I developed that habit when I was still in high school. It works wonders, especially because I don’t have fixed working hours.

4. Plan on the go

Apple Reminders and Apple Notes are probably my most-used apps in 2021. When a random idea pops up in my head, I either note it in Reminders or Apple Notes, depending on how detailed it is. I mostly do this on my phone, on the go, no matter where I am.

Once a week, I go through our team’s calendar on ClickUp to check items we have completed and schedule new tasks. This is the time I revisit my on-the-go notes to see ideas we can start working on. I also check ClickUp if anything in our schedule changes, delays, or gets cancelled. I am responsible for delegating work for our team and everyone can see these in our spaces on ClickUp.

I keep my planning simple and avoid planning for routine everyday tasks that we all know need doing. I would rather spend more time ticking items off my checklist than planning for every second of my day. That is why I use GTD apps, instead of planners.

Any thoughts? Do tell, do tell!