The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 23.10

Saturday, March 11, 2023

My top 5 productivity hacks

Here are the top 5 productivity hacks I use every day. Some of these are quick and easy to implement - others require that you form a new habit.

In no particular order:

1: Time blocking

The concept of time blocking is simple:

Before you start the day, block out time in your calendar for all the things you need to do today.

I used to do time blocking once a week (on Fridays), planning out next week as best I could. Recently, I’ve started doing this every morning, and it’s turning out to be more effective. Some priorities do change during the week, so I have to move things around to accommodate those.

Pro tip: don’t block out all your time every day - you will need “slack” time for overruns, unexpected interrupts, and so on.

2: No interruptions

The only way to get “deep work” done is to focus exclusively on that task for an extended period of time.

To help me focus, I have two shortcuts (MacOS) I use multiple times each day:

  • Start talking: Starts up all the apps I use to communicate with the world: email, messages and WhatsApp. When they’re running, I’m talking to the world and allowing interruptions.
  • Stop talking: Closes all those apps and turns on “do not disturb”. No more interrupts - so I can focus on the stuff that requires my full attention.

When I run “stop talking”, I notice there’s a sense of calm that takes over. the underlying stress of having to respond to emails or messages just goes away and I’m better able to focus.

3: Textexpander

This is a little app that expands shortcuts. For example, when I type “.tia” it expands to “Thanks in advance and best regards, Neville” (including a newline after the comma).

Then there’s “.book30” or “.book60” which expands into my Calendly booking pages links (for 30 minute and 60 minute meetings respectively). I never have to go and find the booking pages - the links are just a memorable phrase away.

And then there’s “.article” which expands into a full article framework (for articles like this one). This gives me a place to type in all the titles, subtitles, issue number and so on that make up an article like this.

There are three ways this helps:

  • I save time by not having to type our long phrases
  • Fewer errors with things like website or calendar booking links
  • Not having to remember all the things that go into, for example, an article.

Whenever I find myself typing the same thing over and over again, I create a shortcut in TextExpander.

4: Calendly

My calendar booking app. I’ve set it up to synchronize with my calendar (in fact, multiple calendars) so there’s never any booking conflicts.

This is one of my biggest time- and hassle-savers. When I need to book a meeting with someone, I just send a link. They book a time that works for them, and my setup on Calendly ensures a) there are no conflicts and b) it happens only in the time windows I’ve allowed.

I use and recommend Calendly, but there are many similar apps.

5: 1Password

1Password is my password manager of choice. No more wondering about which password I used where, generating strong passwords or synchronizing passwords across devices.

I highly recommend using a reputable password manager, but not just for passwords. All my credit cards, banking details, scans of passports, medical information and more goes in here.

What’s your favourite productivity hack? Let me know!