The productivity hacks that work and the ones that don’t

We all want to do optimize time and do more with less. Here are the productivity hacks that work and the ones that don’t work.

Most of us want to accomplish more in less time. We want to get better at time management and improve our productivity, especially now that so many of us are working from home and there’s nobody watching our every move.

So, there are a lot of purported productivity hacks out there, and new ones are regularly trotted out as the secret to cracking the productivity code.

Get up early! Drink water! Use a timer! Make lists! Sleep twice a day! Take naps! Listen to music!

We’ve heard it all. Do these techniques work? Of course, they do – and don’t.

The people at business support platform Rovva sought to find out which productivity hacks work and which ones don’t, noting that “it’s hard to find genuine advice on how to procrastinate less and do more.” They took a look at the latest scientific evidence to find out how we can be genuinely more productive and found that among the most effective hack was having two monitors, which can increase productivity by as much as 42%. Meanwhile, among the least effective, were taking cold showers and getting up early (many night owls will be relieved by that last one).

Here are the most and least effective productivity hacks according to the research with rationale and commentary taken from the Rovva research.

Most effective productivity hacks.

  • Having two monitors: Studies have shown that two monitors can increase productivity by as much as 42%.
  • Setting a timer/ Pomodoro technique: There’s little scientific evidence for Pomodoro and similar techniques in themselves, studies show that taking short breaks and diverting away from a task periodically can improve overall productivity.
  • Drinking coffee: Mixed evidence of a direct effect on productivity directly, but may help indirectly with stress reduction. Little evidence of negative effects (other than some risks during pregnancy).
  • Drinking water: Can positively affect cognition.
  • Making to-do lists: Making a list can free up cognitive resources.
  • Going for a walk: Studies show that walking increases creativity ideation both during and after the exercise
  • Blocking distracting websites: Evidence suggests blocking distractions increases productivity, though effect may vary by individual and type of work.
  • Getting dressed to work from home: Studies have found positive links between dressing for work and productivity, and also a link between working in pyjamas and poorer mental health.
  • Attending fewer meetings: Meetings have been found to be unproductive and wasteful. Essential meetings could be improved with better structure and preparation.
  • Natural light: Multiple studies demonstrate natural light’s positive effect on productivity and health in the workplace.

The least effective productivity hacks.

  • Having a clean desk/workspace: Studies show that clutter on a desk can actually improve productivity.
  • Polyphasic sleep: Found to have strongly negative effects. Evidence of claimed benefits is weak.
  • Multitasking: Reduces productivity in more than 97% of people. Exceptions are “supertaskers” but these are rare.
  • Taking cold showers: Likely no direct effect on productivity and may have a negative impact on cognitive performance
  • Getting up early: Natural early risers may have an advantage, but natural late risers may not benefit from forcing themselves to wake up earlier.

Read the entire list on Rovva’s website.

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