10 Easily Applied Productivity Hacks

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

When it comes to productivity there are countless tools to take advantage of. Though most of them are useful, not everything will work for everyone.

That being said there are some tried and tested methods that are very much effective for the majority of people. Here are ten easily applied productivity hacks.

1. To-Do List

When it comes to accountability for one’s goals and targets nothing beats a good old-fashioned to-do list. As simple as this enduring productivity tool is, the to-do list is effective for one simple reason. It gets you to ‘commit’ to carrying out a set of specific tasks in a specific order. 

When written out correctly, a to-do list is best arranged in order of importance with the most critical and urgent tasks at the top and the least important at the bottom. 

One of the things you can do to make your to-do list more effective is to assign a specific date and time of completion for each respective task.

At the end of the day, you’ll have evidence of your productivity or lack thereof in black and white in the form of your to-do list. You can then reflect on what went right and what needs improving.

2. Eisenhower Matrix

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the ‘Eisenhower Matrix’ popularised by 34th U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower. This tool is more complex in that it splits one’s tasks into 4 separate categories using two axes.

The first axis covers ‘importance’ with the two contrasting levels of important and non-important at opposite ends of the spectrum. The second axis covers urgency with ‘urgent’ tasks at one end and the ‘non-urgent’ tasks at the other. 

Once combined you should have your tasks grouped into the following four boxes: important and urgent, important and non-urgent, non-important and urgent, and lastly, non-important and non-urgent tasks.

The important and urgent tasks are to be carried out immediately without fail. The important and non-urgent tasks are to be scheduled, the non-important but urgent tasks are to be delegated, and the non-important and non-urgent tasks are to be eliminated as they waste too much time. 

3. Pomodoro Technique

This technique is best utilized when you have a pile of repeating tasks or work that needs to be completed efficiently. Invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, the Pomodoro technique increases efficiency by introducing breaks in between timed ‘bursts’ of activity.

For example, when I work on Click Worker’s UHRS platform conducting micro judging tasks, I usually work in bursts of twenty to twenty-five minutes, with a short five-minute break after each burst. These bursts are what are called Pomodoros.

After three or four ‘Pomodoros’ I then take a longer fifteen to twenty-minute break before repeating the entire process.

4. Don’t Just Set Goals, Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

Working on a project without a set of goals is akin to working as a delivery driver without any delivery addresses or timeslots. You’re just going to drive around in circles to no end, and you’ll end up missing all your timeslots.

Having goals is one thing but having the right goals is even more important if you’re looking to reach peak productivity. What better way to do this than by setting S.M.A.R.T goals.

This snazzy little acronym breaks down as follows:

S – Specific

Be specific in your goal setting. Being specific not only means that you have a clear direction in which to move but it also means you’ve invested some serious time in thinking about what it is you really want to achieve.

M – Measurable

How are you going to measure your progress? Can your goal be measured on a daily basis or does it have to be monthly? What units of measurement are required. This aspect is crucial as it lets you know at all times whether you’re on the right path or not.

A – Achievable

Mapping out a new plan can be exciting. Nothing is more thrilling than a new adventure. However, one of the most common pitfalls of goal setting is to set the bar too high. So take extra care in making sure that your goal is not only practical but also achievable.

R – Realistic

In order for your goal to be achievable, it has to be realistic. What are the odds of a young lady on a bicycle acing a woman in a brand Tesla car in the race? Zilch.

Make sure that your goals are both achievable and realistic. Doing this ensures that you don’t waste time and energy on things that are simply never going to happen.

T – Time-Bound

So you’ve managed to set some objectives that will have you accomplish your definite chief aim. Have you also remembered to set deadlines for both your objectives and your main goal?

Not having deadlines can lead to complacency and a lack of urgency. Both of these are like kryptonite to goals and objectives.

5. Eliminate Distractions

This easy fix is oftentimes easily overlooked. Sometimes all we have to do to increase our productivity is to remove anything that’s not conducive to being productive.

Eliminating distractions can take many forms. It can be as straightforward as putting your phone on silence and turning off your internet router to focus on writing your book.

Eliminating distractions could also be as complex as designing your environments such as your home office or work desk to be centred around work by removing things such as video game consoles, tablets, and any other unnecessary tidbits.

6. Build A Habit

Productivity is an area that often requires constant focus and conscious effort. These two things aren’t always easy to maintain.

Fortunately, there is a way to get around this. If you can create habits that are conducive to your productivity then you can pretty much automate the bulk of your work.

What’s more, once you’ve created or identified a habit you can then link another habit to it using a process called ‘habit stacking.’

7. Meditate

As something that’s oftentimes associated with occult and metaphysical practices meditation has always suffered from prejudiced thinking. The evidence, however, is overwhelmingly in favour of regular meditation as a positive and healthy practice.

Science has shown that the brains of people who meditate regularly benefit from changes in grey matter in different parts of the brain. The benefits are many but not limited to increased levels of concentration, better discipline, and even better executive-decision making.

8. Start Small

This seems counterintuitive at first but there’s sound reasoning behind this suggestion. One of the most common pitfalls, when people set out to accomplish a task or carry out a project, is they take on too much far too quickly which often leaves them feeling overwhelmed.

By starting small you basically guarantee yourself some small wins. It’s those small wins that once repeated enough times can snowball into bigger and longer-lasting successes.

9. Marginal Gains

Alongside starting small is the concept of marginal gains. This is an idea that’s transformed entire organizations and sports teams into the dominant players in their fields.

The idea of marginal gains is very straightforward. It revolves around the idea of improving a smaller part of a larger whole in easily manageable but perpetual increments.

Taking smaller actions rather than big sweeping movements all but guarantees your commitment as it’s easier to do and requires less effort than a bigger task. When you set out to take massive action it’s sometimes harder to maintain such a high level of intensity over long periods of time.

10. Adopt A Growth Mindset

We live in a very fast-paced world in which today’s cutting-edge breakthrough may just be old news come daybreak tomorrow. Philosopher Eric Hoffman summed it up perfectly when he said “In times of change the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Having a growth mindset means never resting on your laurels. By constantly updating your knowledge and skillset you ensure that you’re always at the forefront of the cutting edge. By having a growth mindset you ensure that you’re at the very least mentally prepared to strive for improvement in what you do.


Coupled with other principles such as marginal gains, the Pomodoro technique, and smart hacks such as a well-ordered to-do list a growth mindset can increase your productivity.

When all is said and done there are hundreds if not thousands of different tools for improving productivity. But it takes a bit of time, patience, and practice to find what works best for you. The most important thing you can do is to simply get started.


Sales 101: The Basics



Welcome to the very first post in the Sales 101 series of articles. In this weekly series the aim is to divulge tried and tested sales tips, techniques, and know-how to help you improve your sales performance.

To kick things off in this introductory post is the oft overlooked topic of ‘sales fundamentals.’ Like with any other discipline, a strong foundation in the basics of sales is key to setting a steady trajectory in the right direction.

Having the wrong fundamentals in place means that not only will you repeatedly fail to get your desired results, but you’ll also waste a lot of time in doing so. The other thing that will happen is that you’ll habituate all the wrong things, and have your autopilot constantly flying you in the wrong direction.

Product Knowledge

A lot of salespeople spend a lot of time working on their questioning and/or their closing techniques. This is good, but in only focusing on these two areas, the area of product knowledge often gets neglected.

Do your homework and learn as much useful and relevant information about your products and industry as possible. But don’t just stop there, instead take it a step further, and also learn about your competitors’ products.

Having a good level of product knowledge prepares you to provide a compelling argument for why your customer should buy your products. This will also make it easier to switch a rival’s customer over to your product(s) or overcome any objections.

To really take your knowledge level to that of an expert, learn about your industry and all of its subtle nuances. The more you know the better prepared you are to successfuly pitch your products, and to all the right customers.


One of the most important areas to look at when it comes to sales basics is questioning. This is almost a science in its own right due to the various different categories of question groups such as open, closed, probing, and closing questions.

Most of us have heard about the basics of questioning such as the five W’s in Who, What, When, Where, and Why. But understanding how to apply different questioning techniques at the right time can take your sales game to a whole different level.

For starters rather than solely relying on questions during the early stages of the sale, you can use questions throughout the sale to gauge your customer’s ‘mood.’ For instance after mentioning a solution to a customer’s problem, you can then pose the question ‘how do you feel about that?’ or ‘what are your thoughts on XYZ?’ to further gauge their mood.

To help yourself master the basics of questioning techniques you can write down, and memorize a series of questions for each part of your sales process. The art of timing your sales is something you’ll only get to grips with through ‘practice.’ You can give yourself a headstart by writing down your questions in advance and practicing at home or better yet on your colleagues at work through some good old fashioned role playing.

Body Language

A lot of information can be communicated without so much as saying a word or writing anything down for that matter. Body language is very important when it comes to the art and science of effective communication.

A great example of this would be a mother giving one scolding glance to her mischievous children. And with that one glance, a lot is said without any words having been spoken. Other great examples include body posture or vocalisations such as sighs which can tell you whether or not the person you’re interacting with is fully engaged with you or off in some dreamland.

An easy way to ‘hack’ the area of body language to your advantage is to practice ‘congruence.’ In communication, congruence is when all aspects of your communication align in harmonious agreement. That means that the message you’re trying to convey matches the tone and passion of your voice, which in turn aligns with your posture, hand gestures, and overall body language.

Overcoming Objections

At some point throughout each sales journey you’ll most likely come across objections from your customer. The inexperienced salesperson will probably take that initial no at face value and move on to the next prospect.

Effectively overcoming objections is a crucial skill to have as a salesperson. The opportunities you lose in objections could be the difference between you missing your target and achieving your monthly or quarterly bonus.

But what exactly is an objection? Well what it isn’t is something to be taken personally.

When a customer tells you ‘no’ it means that something’s gone a bit wrong somewhere within the sales process. It could also mean that you haven’t laid enough foundational groundwork prior to attempting to close the sale.

Customers can object to your pitch for a number of reasons ranging from a lack of trust to feeling pressured, or even cheated on the pricing. It’s crucial that you understand exactly what it is that your customer is objecting to.

The best thing you can do to overcome an objection is to proactively read the customer’s mood from the minute they walk in to just before you attempt to seal the deal. You do this by asking the customer ‘how does that make you feel? or ‘what are your thoughts so far?’ at different intervals throughout the sale.

If the response to the above questions is negative then your next step should be to understand why the customer is feeling this way. You can then use the feedback from your probing questions to formulate and propose a solution that will make them happy or at atleast assuage their worries.

This is where it helps to write down some questions beforehand and memorise a few for such occasions. In essence, you’ll want to have some basic ‘probing questions’ written down and/or memorised beforehand.

A simple probing question in relation to a price objection is ‘what price did you have in mind?’ or ‘what’s your budget for this service or product?’

To help you with your preparations go to the top salespeople in your team and ask them which objections they come across the most, and what works best in overcoming them.

You can also Google or search for common sales questions online and then personalise them by adding a bit of flair to make them unique to you. The last thing you’ll want to do is come across as robotic as it will give the impression that you’re just going through the motions to get the sale.


So you’ve done all the groundwork from asking all the right questions to pitching the best solution to match your customer’s needs. You’ve overcome your customer’s objections by providing solutions to their ‘perceived’ or ‘potential’ problem(s). Now what’s next?

At this point, you’ll want to seal the deal, and in doing so get your customer’s approval to finalize the deal. In order to close a deal, you’ll need to have removed any potential objections that your customer had beforehand.

You also have to master the art of reading your customer’s buying signals. These buying signals can be verbal or non-verbal. This includes the customer nodding along enthusiastically, asking follow-up questions that ‘imply the intent to buy, or proactively sharing information about their needs with little to no prompting from you.

Sometimes a customer just walks in and buys a product right off the shelf along with a few additional tidbits that can be potential cross-selling or upselling opportunities. But this is a rarity, and more often than not you’ll have to do the heavy lifting by asking all the right questions in order to effectively read people.

After all, is said and done remember to ask for the customer’s business. There are various different questions you could ask, but the most important thing you can do is to be confident in your approach.

Just as there are different types of questions there are also different closing techniques. With each unique closing technique the initial approach to the sale is also slightly different. And how you set the tone of the sale at the beginning of the process is massively important to how effective your close will be.

For example if you didn’t do enough research on your prospect before then this will eventually show and stifle your customer’s confidence in your ability to advise them effectively, and as such this also affects their willingness to accept your ‘expert opinion.’

Personal Development

Last but not least comes personal development. This is a topic that, in recent times, has become very popular and with good reason.

Personal development in this context is merely adopting a growth mindset. The focal point of which is the continual growth and development of one’s sales skills, and know-how.

Personal Deelopment author and writer Brian Tracy often toutes the 3% rule as good strategy for both personal and professional growth. The 3% rules is where you take 3% of your income and reinvest it in your education.

Your self education can be comprised of books, audiobooks, courses, and/or seminars. It can also be a combination of different things that complement each other. The main point being that the reinvestment into growing your skillset will eventually boost your earning potential in the long run.


When all is said and done sales is a combination of many different areas. In order to start your sales journey effectively you’ll first need to have a good foundational understanding of each individual aspect.

To become a sales expert however you’ll need to understand how these different areas relate to each other. You’ll then have to put the in the work so as to practice using these skills on different customers and in different scenarios time and time again.

Book Review: Atomic Habits

Much has been written about the power of habits. But rarely has the topic been assessed through a metaphorical magnifying glass and then presented in layman’s terms.

Author James Clear attacks the much-studied subject of ‘habits’ and human behaviour from a new perspective. As a result this book offers a fresh take on habit formation and change.

As the old saying goes “never judge a book by its cover.” However, no one ever said that you couldn’t judge a book by its title. And Atomic Habits is one of those books whose name either leaves you intrigued or sends you running for the hills.

The author goes to incredible lengths to illustrate the benefits of not only cultivating good habits, but also the near exponential power of ‘marginal gains.’ This is key to fully appreciating and grasping the lessons brought forward by this interesting read..

Often times it’s easy to think of habits in a grand and almost awe inspiring way. But it’s truly refreshing to learn that habits like anything else can be broken down into manageable units that virtually anyone take full advantage of.

If anything, Atomic Habits could have introduced more case studies pertaining to marginal gains. That being said, author Clear did a magnificent job of illustrating every key point.

One of the most noticeable patterns in this book is how every technique discussed can be applied to the reader’s own life. The author also never fails to mention any available downloadable resources on his website.

There’s much to be learned over several re-reads of this book thanks to the author’s extensive research. And when all is said and done ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear will surely go down as one of the classic books on habit formation and change.

3 Key Takeaways; The Richest Man In Babylon

Told from the perspective of an ancient Babylonian man, George S. Clason’s 1926 classic teaches us the essential basics of how to build and sustain wealth. There are three key takeaways from this book that are absolutely vital to understanding personal finance and they are as follows;

#1 – Pay Yourself First

This goes against our basic instincts because as human beings we are evolutionarily hard-wired to survive. But by neglecting to pay oneself you sacrifice long-term prosperity over short-term gains. To be more precise Clawson teaches that you must set aside at least 10% of what you earn before you pay anybody else.

#2 – Put Your Money To Work

Put that 10% to work right away. Saving has long been heralded as the secret to wealth building and whilst that’s true, that’s only partially correct. The other part is that those savings have to be put to work by way of sound and fruitful investment. Even after investing your 10%, there is yet more to be done in order to truly build sustainable and long-lasting wealth.

#3 – Compound The Interest

The third key takeaway from Clason’s classic is that you must allow that invested 10% to earn interest. The important to do is to then take that interest and reinvest it and so and so forth. Through a little simple process called compound interest, you can grow your investment exponentially over time.

There is, of course, more to be gained from The Richest Man In Babylon but if you were to simply grasp the above three rules and practice them then you’ll be well on your way to starting your saving and investment journey.


Please note that I am not a financial advisor, and the above article is not intended as applicable ‘financial advice.’ Please consult a fully qualified financial advisor before making any financial decision.

Book Review: The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Have you ever picked up a book that you simply couldn’t put back down again? If not then make this your first, and if so then add this to your tally. Author James Duhigg delivers an insightful and educational read through The Power of Habit.

Many books have been written before on this transformative topic. Despite its popularity, the subject of habits remains one that the vast majority know relatively so little about, and yet it’s probably the single most powerful force driving human behavior.

In the first chapter, the author introduces the basics of habits. This brief introduction perfectly sets up the remainder of the book which succeeds in illustrating the influence of habits in both positive and negative scenarios.

What makes this an enthralling read are the myriad of case studies. Not only are the stories captivating but they also illustrate the power of habit at both an individual and not so individual scale.

Count Your Blessings

As I sit here in my car during my lunch break I’m mildly intrigued at the fact that I’m now a twenty something man bordering on thirty. Oh, where has the time gone? In fact what happened to the past ten years. In hindsight time seems to move rather fast.  

It’s only when I assess my challenges, milestones and accomplishments that I realise just how much I’ve experienced over the past ten years. Through the 2010s I managed to graduate from University with a degree in Creative Music Production, start and complete the first part of my MA in Music, and release two EPs as well as my debut album, albeit to a rather non-existent reception. I also met my soulmate, made and lost many friends, many times over. And perhaps one of the most unexpected moments for me was losing a very dear cousin whom I lived with during childhood to a very aggressive cancer.  

On a different note I also started two blogs and a record label through which I released the aforementioned projects. I attempted a couple of Independent Label Market events. Me and my partner also bought our very first car, as well as moving into our first flat together. One of the best things to come out of the last decade for me, aside from meeting my amazing woman, is that I got to travel the world with her. 

In a nutshell the point I’m trying to make is that remember to count your blessings as we’re not promised tomorrow in way, shape or form. The other thing that I’ve learned in my very short yet eventful twenty something years of life is that as important as it is to learn from the past and think about tomorrow, do not forget that now is all we’re ever going to experience at any point in time.  

Top 10 Motivational Quotes For 2020

So it’s official; 2020 will be remembered as possibly the worst start to any decade in recent memory. That is precisely the reason why I think we could all do with a tiny bit of motivation.

Here are our top ten motivational quotes to help energise you all for the remainder of this God forsaken year.

  1. “Be not impatient in delay, But wait as one who understands; When spirit rises and commands, The Gods are ready to obey.” – James Allen
  2. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King Jr
  3. “Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” – Earl Shoaff
  4. “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.” – Rumi
  5. “Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I rise.” – Maya Angelou
  6. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
  7. “The major question to ask on the job is not ‘what are you getting paid?’ The major question to ask on the job is ‘what are you becoming?” – Jim Rohn
  8. “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
  9. “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.” – Napoleon Hill
  10. “When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.” – Tony Robbins

As A Man Thinketh

James Allen

Only the third of his twenty-one books over a career spanning eighteen years, As A Man Thinketh by James Allen is a short but masterful chronicle on untapped human potential. Long before the likes of Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale and Jim Rohn came James Allen hailing out of Leicester, England.

The book’s title and contents draw inspiration from the bible passage of Proverbs 23:7 which reads “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” This theme is consistent woven into each of the books seven short yet insightful chapters.

James Allen takes us on a journey of human growth with chapters such as “Thought and character” and the penultimate “Visions and Ideals” which is followed up by “Serenity.”

Compared to other classic books such as Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, As A Man Thinketh would only take up a mere chapter or two in terms of word count, but regarding quality and subject matter, this book has been as influential if not more so than either of those classic reads.