Top productivity hacks from over 400 user interviews

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Over the last 6 months we have run a long cycle of user discovery

To all of them we asked “what blocks your productivity and what are your best practices?”

When it goes to best practices, most if not all the participants engage in a combination of the following: 

Goal Settings, planning activities, reviewing results

Weekly Goals - a key principle is to focus on what moves the needle.
In our interviews we've heard a lot of "this week I will be successful if I do these (3) things”. When you need to prioritize, the The Eisenhower Matrix outlines a framework to segment your goals by importance and urgency:

Weekly and Daily Planning - make sure you organize your time around your goals.

👉 Here is how you can Follow a daily routine in Mindmesh

Time bulk activities

In our interviews we’ve heard people that “try to do emails and slack only a few times a day to limit distractions”, others who “bucket their own focus work half of the day and have meetings the other half” and some who “clear Friday afternoon to get back to people's emails”. 

Context switching is productivity's top enemy. A widely quoted articles maintains that Employees switch apps more than 1,100 times a day, decreasing productivity.

To escape productivity loss from all the workplace distractions, many find helpful to get to the most important work first. This approach is at the cornerstone of the Eat the Frog Method - the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. You must develop the routine of “eating your frog” before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it”.

Another popular approach is the 2 minutes rule from Getting things done “If an action will take less than two minutes, it should be done at the moment it’s defined” the reason is that is more efficient to deal with something now and be done with it, than starting from scratch later. This approach works much better tough if combined with time bulking, i.e. deciding when focusing on lots of small tasks and ace many of them (the so called “processing time”)

Focus Time

Today’s knowledge workers typically spend more than 85% of their time in meetings (MIT Sloan review). As a consequence many organisations such as Atlassian and Facebook are enforcing no meeting days, while Google has 2 no meetings weeks.

Regardless of company policies a very popular hack is to block time on your own calendar to keep external disruptions out and focus on our own work. Microsoft suggests some best practices for focus time:

👉 Here is how you can do Focus time in Mindmesh - this is a feature we loved building - you can also directly book in your Google/Mindmesh calendar a Mindmesh To do Card, but also an Email to answer, or a document from 25+ app to focus on.

Meeting preparations 

92% of employees consider meetings costly and unproductive (Harvard Business review), and yet meetings are not going anywhere (even though their average length went down during the Pandemic).

To make meetings worth it is key to prepare them by. Here are some tips to prepare and run successful meetings:

👉 Here is how you can do prepare a meeting Mindmesh

Note Taking and Todos

A key principle of Getting things done is downloading stuff somewhere >  stress can be reduced and productivity increased by putting reminders about everything one is not working on into a trusted system external to one's mind.

We believe that these interview quotes explains it well:

A crisp overview of your work can benefit from the right visualisation - very popular Japanese model now mainstream is the Kanban Methodology 

This is the core value proposition of Mindmesh - centralizes your own notes, todos and work coming from 25 + apps - so that you can sort, prioritize and focus on what is coming next.